How Joe Walsh Joined the Eagles–and the Solo Song That Earned Him the Spot

Before Joe Walsh joined the Eagles, they worked with Bernie Leadon. While the latter guitarist helped to create hits like “Witchy Woman,” his run was ultimately cut short. Despite his successful tenure with the group, his inability to adapt eventually forced him to part ways with the band. Walsh was primed to replace him, but how did he get such a coveted spot? Find out, below.

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[RELATED: 4 Joe Walsh Songs That Deserve a Revisit]

The Hit That Got Joe Walsh Into the Eagles

By the time he joined ranks with the Eagles, Walsh was enjoying a successful solo career. Walsh has lent his guitar prowess to several bands across his tenure but has never forsaken his solo catalog. In the end, that was the right move for Walsh, given that one of his solo songs earned him a spot in the Eagles.

Spent the last year
Rocky Mountain Way
Couldn’t get much higher
Out to pasture

According to Glenn Frey, he saw Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way” as a guiding force for the Eagles. The guitar-heavy track was the kind of thing Frey saw in the Eagles’ future-if they had the right guitarist to do it.

Around the same time, Leadon had issues with his bandmates and their non-stop touring schedule. While Leadon’s focus was on the “country” portion of the Eagles’ “country rock” label, his bandmates wanted to drop the western twang. Their never-ending line of shows (and inevitable exhaustion) only accented their disconnect.

Frey began to harbor resentment for the guitarist and started workshopping his replacement. Enter Walsh.

Walsh, heavy into his solo career, was invited to perform “Rocky Mountain Way” in the encore section of the Eagles’ live shows. It was enough to earn him a tentative spot in the band–one that would eventually become permanent.

“For our encores, we’d put Joe Walsh in a road box…there would be Joe with his Les Paul, and we would play ‘Rocky Mountain Way,'” Frey once said. “As we’re playing, I keep thinking to myself, ‘Joe Walsh over Bernie Leadon?'”

(Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)

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