Joe Walsh joined the Eagles over 40 years ago…in 1975. His solo career predates his time with the band, and continued even while the group was active.
Joe’s career included time with The James Gang & Barnstorm…for which he was the principal songwriter, lead guitarist, and lead vocalist.
Joe Walsh was with The James Gang from 1969 to 1971. The main songs to come out of that time are…”Funk 49″ and “Walk Away”…plus I recommend their second album The James Gang Rides Again.
Barnstorm didn’t have any hits, but they’re on Joe Walsh’s first official solo album, The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get from 1973. It includes the classic guitar song “Rocky Mountain Way”…Walsh’s first Top 40 hit at #23.
Then in December of 1974, before Joe Walsh joined the Eagles, he released his very best album with the help of…the Eagles.
Don’t let the crazy cover and So What title turn you away. This is a masterful album that every Joe Walsh and Eagles fan should own (or stream). Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner, and J.D. Souther all contributed. The songs include “Falling Down” (co-written by Don Henley), “Welcome To The Club”, “Turn To Stone”, “Help Me Through The Night”, and “County Fair”. Those aren’t hit singles, but all of them were played by Album Oriented Rock stations. Joe Walsh is an accomplished instrumentalist, and for this album he played guitar, bass, piano, and various synthesizers. He said at the time that the goal of the album was to make his “Sgt. Pepper”. If he meant his “best album”, mission accomplished.
In 1976, Walsh and the Eagles released Hotel California. One of Joe’s many contributions was coming up with the guitar riff for “Life In The Fast Lane”. Before the Eagles’ next album, The Long Run, Walsh released his 1978 solo album But Seriously, Folks. I remember dropping the needle on the album. As I listened, there were no songs I thought were very good…until the very last song. Finally, I heard some cool guitar riffs, and then the words…”I have a mansion, forget the price. Ain’t never been there, they tell me it’s nice.” Instantly, you could tell this was a great song…”Life’s Been Good”. It was a hit single (#12 in Billboard, #6 in Cash Box), was added to the Eagles’ concerts at the time, and has been a staple of their shows ever since. It was worth the price of the album.
Joe Walsh continued to release albums while the Eagles were broken-up from 1980 to 1994. The albums include… There Goes The Neighborhood (1981) [Which is when we saw him in concert], You Bought It – You Name It (1983), The Confessor (1985), Got Any Gum? (1987), Ordinary Average Guy (1991), and Songs For A Dying Planet (1992). His most recent, Analog Man, was released in 2012. Other popular songs of his include…”All Night Long”, “A Life Of Illusion”, “The Confessor”, “Ordinary Average Guy”, and a couple songs off his latest album “One Day At A Time” and “Lucky That Way”. That last one is kind of a follow up to “Life’s Been Good”. It reflects on how his life is now.
Joe Walsh’s solo songs bring a lot of fun and energy to all those Eagles concerts. He’s considered one of the best guitar players ever, and despite some earlier substance abuse problems, he was a great addition to the Eagles. He straightened out his personal problems long ago, and life really has been good to him (so far).
Bonus Fun Fact: Good friends Joe Walsh and Ringo Starr are also family. Ringo Starr is married to Barbara Bach, and Joe Walsh is married to her sister, Marjorie. Associated Fun Fact: Eagles’ drummer Don Henley says his favorite drummer is Ringo Starr.
One more thing: One of the original Eagles, Randy Meisner, left the band after Hotel California. He had some really good solo songs…”Deep Inside My Heart” (#22), “Hearts On Fire” (#19), “Gotta Get Away”, and “One More Song” with backing by Don Henley and Glenn Frey. All four of the songs are on the 1980 album One More Song. “Hearts On Fire” and “One More Song” would have fit perfectly on an Eagles album.
That concludes the three-part series on the Solo Eagles. You can find the other two parts listed on the right side of the page, or at the bottom of this article. Don Henley…Solo Eagles Part 1 and Glen Frey…Solo Eagles Part 2.