Bands In The Woods Wednesday: Joe Walsh and James Gang

The photo that accompanied every copy of “Rides Again” (1970) of James Gang out in the woods on motorcycles.

Joe Walsh is the only cool Eagle in my books. Just watch The Eagles documentary, History of the Eagles (which is only a little less funnier than This Is Spinal Tap) and you know that he is the only cool non-ego in the bunch. That’s why his work before and after the Eagles rocks. Which brings us to today’s Bands In The Woods Wednesday: James Gang’s second album, “Rides Again” (1970) and the iconic photo of them out in the woods that has, in many ways, become synonymous with the album and the band itself.

More ‘Bands In The Woods’:
Bands In The Woods Wednesday: Neil Peart (Of Rush)
Bands In The Woods Wednesday: ZZ Top
Bands In The Woods Wednesday: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

The photo, taken by legendary photographer Tom Wright, on a snowy January day, which is not unlike the sloshy weather we are currently experiencing in Ontario as I write this article. Tom, who was their manager at the time, took the photos of the band in this remote location while touring in Massachusetts. Quite contrary to their icey surroundings the band was a rather warm reception having just released their debut album to critical acclaim, Yer’ Album (1969).

Listen to James Gang’s “Funk #49” on Cottage Country Mix Vol. 1 :

James Gang and the whole gang from the James Gang “Rides Again” spontaneous photo shoot.

The story goes that they were crashing at a fellow band’s place while on tour with very little to no money back then for a hotel. This band happened to be living with bikers, whose bikes held a special place in their homes, with many bikes themselves inside the house. The Gang (James Gang now) were eyeing these bikes and were hoping/conspiring to use them in a photo but they were hesitate to ask, impartially due to the snowy conditions. When they eventually worked up the courage, the bikers were more than happy to oblige, and proceeded to start the motorcycles inside the house and road them outside where the legendary photo shoot took place, much to the amusement to the band.

Their surprise is confirmed in their expressions, well at least in that of Jim Fox (drums) and Dale “Bugsley” Peters (bassist) on the left. The series of iconic photos show the band in the great outdoors. Sitting on a couple panhead motorcycles on a snowy and soppy dirt road, surrounded by barren winter trees, but the band don’t seem to mind. Joe looking a bit grumpy (maybe he wishes he wore something warmer) or perhaps he was just playing it “cool”.

These outakes taken from their Faceook post. Photographed by Tom Wright.

Looking at the photo above, depicting Joe Walsh pulling the motorcycle out of the barn (I guess they couldn’t get it out the front door), it is not without irony that Joe Walsh would eventually leave James Gang to form his own band in Colorado called, Barnstorm. Eventually Joe would be replaced by in James Gang by, Canadian guitarist, Domenic Troiano.

So, in the tradition of cowboy movies like The Lone Ranger or Destry, the Gang “rides again” in this, their second album, James Gang Rides Again (1970), which the photo was used for. Except here, of course, they are on steeds of steel instead of horses and instead of guns, they are armed with some of the heaviest jams ever produced by a three-piece band. Songs like “The Bomber” and “Funk #49” are still blazing and will likely put a hole in your head like a bullet. It would further solidifying themselves as a gang, a musical gang. Move of Gang Of Four, we have the original “gang of three”: Joe Walsh, Jim Fox & Dale Peters.

James Gang’s “Walk Away” is featured on Cottage Country Mix Vol. 11:

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