Two Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famers and guitar legends to strum away at Borgata this weekend. Joe Walsh talks to AC Weekly in advance of his twin billing with B.B. King.
ATLANTIC CITY — Having thrived on all of rock ‘n’ roll’s most meaningful fronts — songwriter, solo artist, studio musician, power-trio front man and lead guitarist for hall-of-fame band — Joe Walsh is about as seriously successful a career musician as there is out there.
But Walsh loves to laugh at life, too, as best noted by one of the biggest hits in his storied career, 1978’s “Life’s Been Good” — a satire of the excesses and pitfalls the touring rock star often encounters, and something the now healthy Walsh can say he survived.
Walsh’s lighthearted nature also showed itself in a recent phone conversation with Atlantic City Weekly, particularly regarding the early stages of his musical odyssey.
“I played trombone and clarinet for a while, then I played oboe in high school,” Walsh says from a tour stop in Raleigh, N.C. “Then I discovered I wasn’t going to get any girls playing oboe, so I decided that maybe I should play guitar. And I didn’t really get any girls playing guitar either, but I had a lot more fun.”
Walsh, a 1998 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee with the Eagles, is currently on tour with his solo band that stops at the Borgata Event Center on Saturday, Oct. 22. The Eagles, who are on a tour break, last appeared in Atlantic City at the Event Center in summer 2008, and Walsh was revered by fans at a show many heralded as being among the best since the Borgata first debuted in 2004. Walsh's solo band consists of keyboardist Bukka Allen, drummer Thomas Hester, bassist George Reiff, drummer Rick Richards, guitarist Greg Suran Jr. and backing vocalists Giulietta Ciambotti, Marilyn Martin and Ricky Washington.
Walsh, who turns 64 next month, has been touring with the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, whose 34-year-old namesake will be among the next wave of guitar legends. In Atlantic City, Walsh (Ringo Starr’s brother-in-law) will do a gig with longtime friend and past project partner B.B. King, another Rock Hall of Famer  and one of the most influential blues guitarists in history. Walsh took some time to talk with Atlantic City Weekly before an Oct. 18 gig at the Durham Performing Arts Center near Duke University.
Pictured right: Bruce Willis (right) joined Walsh on the Borgata stage in 2007.
How did it work out that you’re touring around with Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s band but you’ll be doing the show in Atlantic City with B.B. King?
I’ve known Kenny for years and years, and his band has been opening for mine on this tour. We played four shows in five nights and they’ve all been great. Kenny’s got an album out [entitled How I Go] and he’s a great young guitar player. He’s the next generation coming up. I’ve known B.B. most of my life and have played on a few of his records [among them 1970’s Indianola Mississippi Seeds], but this [Borgata] gig is a package that I think the casino put together and I’m not entirely sure how it’s set up yet. I haven’t seen B.B. in a long time and, if we can possibly do it, it would be great to play [on stage] together. But for the rest of my tour, Kenny Wayne is out with me.
What will some of the songs on your set list include in ATLANTIC CITY?
I’ll do “Pretty Maids [All In A Row],” “In the City,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “Life’s Been Good,” “Rocky Mountain Way” from my Eagles days, “Funk 49” and “Walk Away” from the James Gang — so there’s something for everybody.
My favorite Joe Walsh song is “Life of Illusion” — are you doing that one?
That’s the second song on our set list.
A blues supergroup called The Rides, comprised of music luminaries Stephen Stills, Barry Goldberg and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, is making the Tropicana Showroom its second stop on a 16-date tour that starts with back-to-back gigs at New York City’s venerable Iridium Jazz Club.
"It’s a good time, a rockin’ time. I plan on bringing some joy and rock-and-roll vibes to Atlantic City. "
As we continue our countdown of “Best Lists” at Atlantic City Weekly, here are the 10 best interviews we had in 2011, in alphabetical order.
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