Joe Walsh is a legend and a guitar god. Even though his sense of humor and wit has earned him the nickname the “Clown Prince of Rock,” he’s a serious musician with an impressive resume. Walsh has composed, produced, and played multiple instruments. It’s his guitar playing, however, that has earned him a place in the Valhalla of rock. Walsh’s style is undeniable. His iconic guitar licks are pure classic rock infused with dashes of blues, folk, and country.
Walsh has experienced success in just about every musical endeavor he’s ever undertaken. They may not be well known but Walsh has been a member of Barnstorm, The Party Boys, and The Best—all well-received bands. He has also been a member of three better known groups: Eagles, The James Gang, and Ringo Starr & His All-Starr Band.
Walsh was a member of The James Gang from 1968 to 1971. Their biggest hits were “Funk” and “Walk Away.”
In 1975, Walsh declined an offer to replace Peter Frampton in Humble Pie and instead joined the Eagles. The first Eagles album with Walsh on board was Hotel California.
There was some uneasiness about Walsh joining the Eagles. Walsh was a bona rocker and used to playing a sound much louder than the “California rock” the Eagles had perfected. The worries over Walsh were quickly erased as the guitarist didn’t upset the mood of the band but added, in many critics’ opinions, a much needed edge.
Walsh has released several solo albums and amassed a lengthy list of hits. Some of Walsh’s best known songs include “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Life’s Been Good,” “A Life of Illusion,” and “Ordinary Average Guy.”
Even if Walsh had never made it in a band, or experienced success a solo artist, he still would have had a great career in music. Besides all the aforementioned accomplishments, Walsh is prolific session musician. Walsh has appeared on albums by Don Henley, Dan Fogelberg, REO Speedwagon, and Steve Winwood. He also made a guess appearance on Foo Fighters’ much acclaimed Sonic Highways project.
Walsh was born in Wichita, Kansas on Nov. 20, 1947. When he was five, his biological father perished in a plane crash. Walsh was adopted by his step-father. Disregarding the tradition at the time of adopted children taking the family name of their new father, Walsh took “Fiddler” as his middle name. This created Joseph Fiddler Walsh, or Joe Walsh, instead of “Joe Fiddler.”
Walsh was inspired to go into music by The Beatles and played oboe in his high school’s band. While attending Kent State University, he played in a band called The Measles. He eventually dropped out of college.
Walsh was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 as a member of the Eagles. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Walsh as the 54th greatest guitarist of all-time.