Life's been good to Joe Walsh so far, to paraphrase one of his biggest hits, but he hasn't always been so good to himself.
It's true he had the smash singles “Walk Away” and “Midnight Man” during his early '70s ride with the James Gang, followed by solo successes such as “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Turn to Stone” and “Life's Been Good,” and then his long run as the Eagles' lead guitarist beginning in 1976.
But the Wichita, Kan.-born axeman's solo output dried up in the early '90s, and that's when Walsh decided to dry out.
“1994, I decided to stop all my silliness and get sober,” he said in a phone interview from Austin, Texas, last week where he was rehearsing with his new band.
“And so I went through that, and for everything to start making sense it took four or five years. That was a long way back. I had never played live sober or written sober or done anything really sober. And so I had to learn how to do all that stuff, and I'm 17 (years sober) now, so that's been a while.”
Walsh's Eagles obligations have taken a lot of time as well, touring the globe tirelessly and in 2007 releasing their first full-blown studio album, “Long Road Out of Eden,” since 1979's “The Long Run.”
“The Eagles were pretty darn busy for the last 10 years,” Walsh said. “We worked the better part of every year. And so, downtime I would work on music at my home a little bit, but when the phone rang I had to drop everything and go. You know, we played all over the world, and so I never got any momentum on my album. I just would write three or four days at a time.”
But the stop-and-go work is about to reach fruition, because in February 2012 Walsh will release his first solo album since 1992's “Songs for a Dying Planet.” Jeff Lynne, of Electric Light Orchestra (aka ELO) and Traveling Wilburys fame, is producing.
“I met Jeff actually through my wife,” Walsh explained.
It turns out Walsh is married to Marjorie Bach, younger sister of Barbara Bach, who is married to Ringo Starr, and they're all friends of Lynne.
“And so Ringo is my brother-in-law,” Walsh said. “That is cool, yeah.”