‘I didn’t know what to do’: Joe Walsh on the ugly turn his life took without the Eagles

Joe Walsh was reminded, at screenings worldwide of the new documentary History of the Eagles, just how far he’d slipped into addiction during the group’s long hiatus between 1980-94.

“When we stopped, I didn’t really have a life,” Walsh says in this SuperPopAccess clip, “and I didn’t know what to do — and I was sad. So, I pretended that we didn’t stop, and I kept going. Basically, I ended up as an alcoholic, and dependent on substances, and those things gradually convince you that you can’t do anything without them.”

He’d continued a solo career, but with diminishing returns. 1981′s There Goes the Neighborhood was a Top 20 album, while 1983′s You Bought It, You Name It barely cracked the Top 50. Walsh put out four more albums between then and 1992, with the last two finishing at Nos. 113 and 112, respectively. Meanwhile, his personal life had become a disaster.

Just then, his former Eagles bandmates Don Henley and Glenn Frey came calling, but with one caveat: “Don and Glenn came to me in 1993 and a half, and said: ‘We’re thinking about trying it again, and we can’t really do it without you — and we can’t do it unless you’re sober.” I was hitting bottom, right then. I had really took it as a far as a I could go. That was the reason I had been waiting for, all of those years. So, it was pretty much a no-brainer.”

The rest, pardon the pun, is history. The Eagles reunited for the celebrated Hell Freezes Over album and tour, then issued their first new album since 1979 with Long Road Out of Eden in 2007. Walsh himself returned with his initial solo offering in 20 years too, with 2012′s Jeff Lynne-produced Analog Man. And yet, Walsh says he still thinks it’s important to remember those down times, if only because it could serve as a cautionary tale.

“You know, it’s uncomfortable seeing me when I was a mess,” Walsh says, “but I think that’s very important that that be in the documentary.”

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