Joe Walsh doesn’t cook much in quarantine — “You don’t want me to go there!” he cracks — but the rocker has kept busy as a ham radio operator. “That’s obsolete,” he admits. “We’re dinosaurs because of the internet. That’s pretty fun, because I’m not a rock star, I’m just Joe when I do that. So that keeps me grounded.”
For the most part though, Walsh’s days are just fine. “It’s kind of a blur at this point,” he tells Rolling Stone in the latest episode of the Rolling Stone Interview: Special Edition video series. “If I can get into the drama of it all and the fear and the anger…just enables negative thinking. If you just keep it simple and take it one day at a time, it’s a lot like early recovery. I get along pretty good.”
Next week, Walsh will host his fourth annual VetsAid charity concert, held virtually on December 12th. The livestream will feature archival performances from the last three years — including Don Henley, Haim, the Doobie Brothers, and Sheryl Crow — as well as new appearances by Eddie Vedder, Alice Cooper, the Killers’ Brandon Flowers, and more.
“When you have a charity event, what you do is you humbly ask everybody you can think of,” Walsh says. “And you hope that three or four of them won’t be on tour or won’t be in the studio and they sign on. I asked 30 people, and they all said yes.”
Walsh himself is part of a Gold Star family: his father died in the Army Air Corps when he was just two years old. “I just always wondered if my dad approved of me,” he says. “I just miss my dad. I didn’t have anybody to throw a ball with or pick up as a role model. When a loved one doesn’t come back from the war, it’s an awful feeling.”
This year also marked the 50th anniversary of the Kent State shootings, where Walsh was enrolled as a student at the time. “I see parallels to the division in the country,” he says of 2020. “It’s the same kind of tension and lack of understanding and refusing to bend, refusing to come into the middle and at least agree on stuff so you can get stuff done. And it makes me uneasy, because that’s back. And I thought we were over that.”
Walsh famously ran for President of the United States in 1980, when he pledged to make his hit “Life’s Been Good” the national anthem. “Wouldn’t that be good before a football game?” he jokes. “I would have had a lot more fun than Trump. With Wednesday, I would have just said ‘We’re gonna cancel Wednesday.’ We’re gonna do Tuesday right to Thursday to get to the weekend closer.”
Which begs the question: What percentage of the crazy rock star antics in “Life’s Been Good” are real? “I used to completely trash hotel rooms,” Walsh says. “I never had a Maserati. I finally got one, because everyone was making me feel really guilty. The look of sadness on their face…so I went and got a Maserati. I don’t know if it does 185. I chickened out at 140.”
Elsewhere during the interview, Walsh discussed his friendship with the late Who drummer Keith Moon. “Hanging out with Keith Moon was one of the highlights of my life,” he says. “It was absolutely terrifying at the time. Now, it’s funny.”
This is the latest installment of Rolling Stone’s latest new video series, RS Interview: Special Edition, featuring in-depth conversations with notable figures in music, entertainment and politics. Episodes premiere every Thursday afternoon on Rolling Stone’s YouTube channel.