The Critics Were ConfusedJoe Walsh joined the Eagles in 1976, replacing departing guitarist Bernie Leadon, a move which had much of rock's cognoscenti taking bets as to how long it would be until Joe left.
A: What critics know, and
B: How much they pay attention.
Though to outsiders this was an odd pairing of musical tastes and approaches, in actuality Joe and the Eagles went way back- through the albums So What and But Seriously, Folks... they had lent their distinctive backing harmonies to Joe's albums and also had producer Bill Szymzcyk in common. The Eagles were called in to help out on a project that was rather dear to Joe's heart- Dan Fogelberg's 1975 release, Souvenirs. When Fogelberg's backing band, Fool's Gold, set to work on a self-titled album in 1976, Joe co-produced with Glenn, Glyn Johns (!!!) and John Stronach.
So, really, adding Joe to the roster in 1976 was not such a radical plan on the part of L.A.'s foremost country rockers. It was simply the next step in a long musical friendship, as well as a timely move towards Glenn's long held desire to create a more muscular, hard rock sound for his band. Don Felder had been added in 1974, and soon had a musical soulmate joining him on the far right-hand side of the stage. . .
And, in fact, the alliance goes back even farther than their days of fame... back to the midwest beginnings of Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh, both high school kids with garage bands. Joe had the James Gang; Glenn, The Mushrooms. Initially, The James Gang opened for the Mushrooms, but quickly began to hold sway on both sides of Lake Erie. Both guys would have run into each other on the club circuit and also at the local teen dance shows, most notably Detroit-based Swing Time and Cleveland's Upbeat, a show produced by the late Herman Spero, father of Joe's future manager, David Spero. David had worked on the show since age thirteen, and came to know all of the guys from the midwest band scene, future Eagles Joe and Glenn certainly no exception.
Fast Forward. . . to 1992. Glenn was on tour, supporting his fourth solo album Strange Weather, and was in Cleveland for a show the following night. David Spero got a call from him out of the blue, and they had dinner. As could be expected, all the gallons upon gallons of water passed under various burned bridges was discussed, but nothing really came of it all.
The next day, at David's urging, Glenn dropped in with David to do an impromptu interview on Michael Stanley's radio show on Cleveland station WNCX. Listeners could call in to ask Glenn questions. Well, he probably was not prepared for a reunion that early in the day!
You guessed it, David went 'round the corner, made a quick call, Joe called the station, and the once and future Eagles found themselves talking for the first time since the band's demise.
That night at his concert, Glenn's encore was Rocky Mountain Way.
Taking the Party on the RoadThis was too good to let it go at that. Due to interest from promoters around the country, Joe and Glenn found themselves on a 45 date tour, including a benefit in Aspen where they appeared on stage with Don Henley for a few songs. Here were the tentative beginnings of what would come to be known as the Hell Freezes Over Tour.
Party OnGlenn and Joe, as The Party of Two, still appear at various charity and corporate functions and appeared in Fort Lauderdale in May, 1997-- see the link below.