‘So What’: Joe Walsh, Just Before The Eagles Called
The 1974 album turned out to be Walsh’s last studio release before he joined the ranks of the Eagles, to replace Bernie Leadon.
Joe Walsh spent the first half of the 1970s burnishing his reputation as one of America’s top rock guitarists. The larger-than-life character from Wichita, Kansas had been building his career in the late 60s with Pacific Gas & Electric and then the James Gang, after which he was in the band Barnstorm. That group were effectively presented as Walsh solo, and gave him his first US chart appearance in October 1972, with a Dunhill/ABC album named after the band.
The record that really sealed the deal for Walsh as a solo artist was 1973’s The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get. It included the rock anthem “Rocky Mountain Way” and reached No.6 on the Billboard 200, going gold in just five months. Before the end of 1974, So What arrived as the follow-up, released on December 14 that year. It turned out to be Walsh’s last studio release before he joined the ranks of the Eagles as replacement for Bernie Leadon.
There may have been no one banner track that stood above all the others this time around, but So What more than enhanced Walsh’s name as a player of wit and imagination. It included a remake of “Turn To Stone,” which had appeared on the Barnstorm album of two years earlier, as well as a co-write with his soon-to-be-bandmate Don Henley, “Falling Down.”
Henley and fellow Eagles Glenn Frey and Randy Meisner were also present on backing vocals on a record also tinged with sadness in the track “Song For Emma.” It was written for Walsh’s daughter who had died in a car accident the year before. Where Smoker had taken five months to go gold, So What won that certification just a month after release, and climbed to No.11.
Listen to the best of Joe Walsh on Apple Music and Spotify.
By the next time he made a studio record under his own name, Joe was a fully-qualified Eagle and part of the multi-million-selling phenomenon that was Hotel California.
Buy or stream So What.
December 16, 2014 at 10:53 pm
i don’t think Joe was ever in PG&E but got his start in the James gang when Glenn Schwartz left ot Jon PG&E. Joe was in other bands prior to James gang including the. Measles , I believe. Good article otherwise!
December 17, 2014 at 7:24 am
Joe never had any affiliation with PG&E, Glen Schwartz did. Joe got his start with bands in the Cleveland, Ohio area and then the James Gang.
January 15, 2015 at 5:39 pm
This album has Glenn and Dons vocals all over it. It could have just as easily been an Eagles album. Some of Joes finest songwriting.
September 9, 2016 at 7:14 pm
Don Henley contributed lyrics on one song only, Glenn only provided background vocals. This is definitely a Joe Walsh solo album with some vocal backup from the others’.
July 7, 2020 at 11:12 am
I was a Walsh fan way before he joined the Eagles, I love the Barnstorm album, there’s something ‘other worldly’ about it.
For me, he only made one good solo album after joining the Eagles, that was But Seriously Folks, the others were a bit self indulgent with not too many memorable songs, I guess the money, fame and drink kinda got to his talent.