In Cleveland power trio the James Gang, Joe Walsh combined Who-style fury with Yardbirds-style technical fireworks and R&B crunch, notably on 1970's "Funk #49." The humor in Walsh's bluesy facility came out in the talk-box flight on his '73 solo hit "Rocky Mountain Way." But it was when he joined the Eagles in 1975 that he truly lodged himself on classic-rock radio. Walsh brought a hard-rock edge to the Eagles' easygoing pop songs, creating a series of indestructible licks in the process: See his staccato-snarl riff in "Life in the Fast Lane" and his elegant aggression in the dueling-guitars section of "Hotel California." Walsh influenced the Who's 1971 classic, Who's Next, although he didn't play a note on it: He gave Pete Townshend, as a gift, the 1959 Gretsch Chet Atkins guitar that Townshend played all over that album. Townshend later repaid the favor while talking to Rolling Stone in 1975: "Joe Walsh is a fluid and intelligent player. There're not many like that around."
Key Tracks: "Rocky Mountain Way," "Funk #49"