Joe Walsh is the legendary guitarist of The Eagles, and he’s had a strong solo career as well. Like many rock stars, he’s also had major bouts with alcohol and drugs, but he’s been sober twenty-five years now and is living to tell the tale of his rehabilitation and recovery.
Life’s Been Good?
Walsh spoke out about this recovery and rehabilitation for a non-profit event. Another fellow rock star with many years of sobriety under his belt, Ringo Starr, also attended the event.
Walsh wrote one of the funniest songs about being a rock star, Life’s Been Good, and while it was a great parody of the rock star life, some wondered if it really was a parody. But Walsh, like many rock stars, learned the hard way that the sex, drugs, rock n’ roll lifestyle wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
As a kid, Walsh had mental health struggles. He reportedly struggled from attention-deficit disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and Asperger’s syndrome. The awareness around mental health problems in the fifties wasn’t like it is today, in fact, Walsh told the Associated Press, “There was no awareness of what that was…You were just difficult. I was difficult.”
Walsh had serious social problems, but he would get courageous after a few beers. “That planted the seed,” he says today. “I thought alcohol was a winner.” He then discovered cocaine and other drugs in college.
When his albums did well, he mistakenly thought it was the booze and drugs that fueled the hits. When an album didn’t do well, he thought, Well obviously I’m not drinking nearly as much as I need to.
Walsh told Rolling Stone, “The worst part of success is that a lot of things come along with it that you didn’t really know you were going to get in the package…Money, drugs, women, partying. …When you’re young it’s really easy to lose your perspective, which I did…It was a real challenge to stay alive and end up on the other end of it.”
Hitting Bottom and Getting Back Up
Walsh then said that vodka and cocaine were his “higher power,” and he “turned into this godless, hateful thing.” As many discover once they get into rehab, Walsh realized his problems weren’t so special. “Gradually they showed me that I’m not a unique individual, one-of-a-kind person. I’m just an alcoholic, and for the first time in my life I felt like I was somewhere where I belonged.”
Walsh even wrote an album about the recovery process, The Confessor, and while he was often considered the clown prince of rock n roll, it was one of his first truly serious efforts as an artist.
Today Walsh loves his family and has learned to control his emotions so his emotions don’t control him. As he told Rolling Stone before he got sober, “I would fly into rages or I would just feel extremely sad. In settling down and just living life, I can experience emotions but I don’t become them…Man, being in the moment is where it’s at.”