Joe Walsh’s 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard
Joe acquired this guitar sometime in the late sixties, probably around 1968 when Joe joined the James Gang. This was the first of the two vintage Les Pauls that Joe had around the time, the second one being the one he would eventually sell/give to Jimmy Page in 1969.
According to Joe, he found this first Les Paul in a basement of a music store in Athens, Ohio.
And I happen to have two. I found one in the basement of a family-owned music store, I think in Athens, OH, where Ohio University is. It was just in the basement. I just walked in another garage, and it was all boxes – and I said, ‘What do you got downstairs?’ And there was a Les Paul!
And I found another one through a friend, I traded him some stuff for one. So, one I really liked and one I just was saving for a rainy day, so I gave Jimmy that oneJoe Walsh – Wong Notes Podcast
Unfortunately, there’s really not a lot of credible information out there on how much exactly Joe used this guitar. From the photos available it seems that this was his main guitar with the James Gang, but it was far from being the only guitar he used around that time.
Joe does mention that he likes playing a Les Paul the most and that he always comes back to it, so it’s safe to assume that it was one of his main guitars. But again, it’s important to note that no one really knows for use whether he used this particular guitar on the four albums he did with James Gang, or whether there were multiple different guitars involved.
There are only two guitars, as far as rock and roll goes, Of those two guitars, I always come back to the Gibson Les Paul. Everything else is great, but nobody has ever topped the Les Paul. In 50 years, no one has built a better guitar.Joe Walsh – Guitar Center interview (page offline)
Joe also mentioned meeting Jimi Hendrix at a gig in Youngstown, at which the two briefly tried each other’s guitars. Walsh mentioned specifically having a 1960 Les Paul, so it was likely this guitar.
The James Gang once played a gig in Youngstown [Ohio] with Hendrix. Sly Stone headlined. We all had a dressing room. … Well, Sly had his own dressing room. Which he rarely came out of – especially when it was time to go on! But Jimi was great. His guitar was sitting there, and I was looking at it and he said, “Go ahead, pick it up.” So I did. And I had a beautiful Les Paul, a 1960, and he checked that out. So that was special. And then Sly went on about an hour and 20 minutes late. We left – along with half the audienceJoe Walsh: My Life in 15 Songs
There are some inconsistencies with this story, however. James Gang played with Sly & The Family Stone in Youngstown on November 2, 1969, but there are no records of Jimi Hendrix playing on that gig. Around that time Jimi was working at the Record Plant in New York, working on songs.
The James Gang did play with Hendrix in Memphis, TN at the Mid-South Coliseum, but then again, there are no records of Sly & The Family Stone playing at that gig.
So likely Joe got things mixed up a little, but the essence is correct. Jimi and Joe did likely meet at a gig.
Around 2013 Gibson released a replica of Joe Walsh’s 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard. Unlucky for us, for whatever reason they since deleted the official press release from their website, but with the magic of the WayBackMachine, it is still accessible.
But, even so, what Gibson had to say about the replica guitar didn’t really reveal all that much, and it is nowhere specified whether the replica was built based on Joe’s first Les Paul, or on any other Les Paul that he may have acquired later on. This is pretty weird, it seems like it would be a smart idea to mention that this was Joe’s first guitar and that it was one that he decided to keep for himself when he gave his second one to Jimmy Page. It would make sense in terms of marketing and attracting more attention.
The only reason why they did not mention this is that perhaps they didn’t know whether this was that guitar or not. This again goes to show that nothing regarding Joe Walsh’s early guitars can be considered a well-established history.
From joining the James Gang in 1968, to his long and ongoing solo career, to his pivotal role as lead guitarist with the Eagles, that thick, rich, sustaining Les Paul tone has remained the centerpiece of Joe’s sound. Now the look, feel, and tone of his own exalted original 1960 Les Paul Standard has been recreated in exacting detail by the world-renowned craftspeople of Gibson Custom as the Joe Walsh 1960 Les Paul Standard.Gibson.com
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