[Note: After this post had been written but before it was published, one of my readers, Mike Honcho, said the following about Joe Walsh that I thought would be good to share: “How about Joe Walsh/James Gang. I know he’s in with the Eagles, but so is Don Henley, on the list of snubs. Unbelievably influential to generations of guitarists. First to do the talk box, sold/ gave Jimmy Page the Les Paul he made famous, helped Pete Townshend with some if his tone through gear (gave him a Gretsch used on Who’s Next and Quadrophenia). Rocky Mountain Way, Life’s Been Good, Funk #49, Walk Away, All Night Long, The Bomber etc. There are more, but he’s all over what’s left of FM radio and the satellite now. The amount of guys he’s influenced stretches from Billy Gibbons to Joe Bonamassa to Brad Paisley. He could write, sing, play killer rhythm, lead and slide. He did it all- fronted the James Gang and Barnstorm, was/is a successful solo artist and vaulted the Eagles to what they became. Imagine Hotel California without him.”]
If you think about the music career of Joe Walsh, there are a few different images you can have. Perhaps you think of his time with the Eagles, singing the occasional song he penned about sad cafes and pretty maids standing in a row. Perhaps you think of his dry and sardonic look at the way that life’s been good for a music star, even if he finds himself unable to drive because his license has been taken away or his contribution to the “Urban Cowboy” soundtrack. One thing you may not think of, though, is that he is a fairly obvious snub for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist or, even more notably, under the “Award For Musical Excellence” that goes to those who help make other people’s music better. Not long ago I found that my writing about Don Henley’s case for induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist received some attention from some Eagles fans , and that some people lamented that Glenn Frey had not been inducted either, but it was noted that Joe Walsh had perhaps the most obvious case for induction aside from Henley. And why that is the case is the subject I would like to tackle now.
The Influence Of Joe Walsh
In looking at the influence of Joe Walsh we are left with a lot of possibilities. Do we look at his solo career, and examine his hit singles and albums, as the linchpin of his case for induction? Do we look at his time with the Eagles and other bands? Do we look at his side work for other musicians on their albums as evidence that the talented musician was someone well recognized for making other artists better? The fact that all of these remain viable options suggests that Joe Walsh is a figure more important in the history of rock & roll music than he may initially appear to many people at first. After all, someone can have influence on music in a variety of ways. Walsh’s influence was varied in nature, including songs written and recorded under his own name, songs recorded by bands he was a part of, and songs recorded by others that he wrote, produced, and played on. This varied and complicated influence is the sort that is better recognized by those involved in the music industry than those who are merely fans of artists and focused on those names that appear on the cover of singles and albums, and it is that case to which we now turn.
Why Joe Walsh Should Be Inducted Into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
As is sometimes the case for musicians, the whole of their case is greater than each individual element of it. Joe Walsh recorded with the Eagles, writing and singing songs like “The Sad Cafe” and “All The Pretty Maids In A Row,” and he also recorded with such bands as The James Gang And Barnstorm. As a solo musician he had two gold albums and one platinum album, and 4 top 40 singles, most notably “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Life’s Been Good,” and “All Night Long,” as well as the #1 mainstream rock song “Life Of Illusion .” Besides this he was notable as a producer, songwriter, and session musician for a diverse group of worthy bands and musicians like: The Ohio Express, B.B. King, America, Billy Preston, Dan Fogelberg, Keith Moon, Andy Gibb, Jay Ferguson, Warren Zevon, the Beach Boys, Don Henley, Lionel Richie, Michael McDonald, Steve Winwood, Richard Marx, Wilson Phillips, Bog Seger, Fleetwood Mac, Ringo Starr, Kenny Chesney, and the Foo Fighters . This case, when looked at as a whole, signifies someone who made a lot of other musicians better and deserves credit for that in some fashion above and beyond his well-regarded work with the Eagles.
Why Joe Walsh Isn’t Inducted Into The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
It seems likely that Joe Walsh seems a bit anonymous as a musician. His work with the Eagles was towards the later part of their initial popularity, after they had been around for years. His solo work is certainly impressive, but hardly obvious, and most of his work is almost anonymous in providing songwriting and production to excellent songs and albums or providing a slide guitar part to songs that are known for their main musicians. He is someone who is known by musicians as being very good at what he does, not someone who is recognized by the masses as being an obvious star. And yet that lack of obviousness makes him a suitable case for the Award For Musical Excellence, as it does not require a mass campaign in his favor but rather the recognition of a job well done over the last few decades as a musician.
Verdict: Put him in. He won’t be in anyone’s way. Life’s been good for him anyway.
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