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 was 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

Photograph by legendary photographer Tom Wright on a snowy January day (not unlike the sloshy weather we are having in Ontario). Tom who was their manager, at the time, took the photos of the band in this remote location while touring in Massachusetts. For many including the band themselves it marked an artistic peak for the band, after the warm reception to the previous debut album, 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.

Story goes: they were crashing at a fellow band’s place while on tour. No money back then. This band happened to be living with bikers with the bikes themselves inside the house. They were eyeing these bikes hoping to use them in a photo but were hesitate to ask, 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. Remember motorcycles are loud and funky but maybe not as much as James Gang themselves.

The now 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 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.

It is not without sad irony Joe would eventual leave James Gang to form his own band in Colorado called Barnstorm. Eventually Joe would be replaced by Canadian guitarist Domenic Troiano in James Gang.

So, in the tradition of cowboy movies Lone Ranger or Destry, The Gang “rides again” in the second album, except instead of horses presumably motorcycles and instead of guns, presumably the hottest licks ever produced by a three piece band that will put a hole in your head like a bullet. 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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