Personalities | Joe Walsh | The Outrageous Eagle | Guitar Heroes

Joe Walsh (b. 1947) was born in Kansas and spent his childhood in Ohio and his high-school years in New Jersey before returning to Ohio to attend college at Kent State.

He played bass in various bands before adopting guitar for a stint in the local group The Measles from 1965 to 1969. That led to a spot with Cleveland-based trio The James Gang, with whom Walsh appeared on the band’s debut Yer’ Album (1969). The follow-up James Gang Rides Again produced the rock-radio staple ‘Funk #49’ (1970).

Walsh found The James Gang confining and relocated to Colorado, forming the group Barnstorm and hitting big with the solo follow-up The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get (1973) and its smash hit ‘Rocky Mountain Way’. In the wake of expanding solo success, Walsh adopted an even bigger profile in 1976 as the new guitarist in The Eagles, replacing Bernie Leadon and helping change the band’s sound from mellow West-Coast country to the harder rock of Hotel California (1976).

Walsh continued to impact The Eagles until their breakup in 1980, all the while releasing his own solo material, including But Seriously, Folks … (1978), which featured his brilliant comic statement on the rock life, ‘Life’s Been Good’. In the 1980s, Walsh maintained a lower profile, dealing with alcohol addiction, and returned to touring with Ringo Starr in 1989. With The Eagles’ reunion in 1994, Walsh returned to the road and the studio for the band’s live Hell Freezes Over set and 2007 studio album Long Road Out Of Eden. His most recent solo album, Analog Man, was released in 2012.

Walsh’s rhythm-guitar playing defines classic funk-rock and his fluid lead lines on tracks like ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ and ‘Hotel California’ are textbook meldings of rock and soul. Combined with an outrageous personality that has made him a staple on American comedy radio and TV shows, his considerable talents helped Walsh forge one of the best-known and most endearing characters in rock. But his comic freewheeling nature belies his skills as one of the most tasteful, precise and accomplished guitarists in rock.

Essential Recordings

Solo: The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get

The Eagles: Hotel California

Solo: But Seriously, Folks …

The Eagles: Hell Freezes Over

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