One of the highlights of latter-day Eagles concerts was the band’s performance of “Funk #49,” the 1970 classic that Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh recorded with the James Gang. Eagles’ performances of the song were preceded by Walsh and guitarist Glenn Frey having a friendly guitar duel, going lick for lick before launching into the song.
The “Funk #49” performance shown below comes from the group’s six-concert stint at the Los Angeles Forum in January 2014, on the History of the Eagles tour. The fan-shot video gives a good view of Walsh and Frey, who passed away on January 18, as they perform their routine, with Frey gamely allowing Walsh to provide a modest demonstration of his impeccable guitar chops.
Walsh had been a well-established artist by the time he joined the group in December 1975. In addition to his tenure with the James Gang, he’d launched a solo career that produced his 1973 hit “Rocky Mountain Way.” When founding Eagle Bernie Leadon left the group, Walsh stepped in at the suggestion of producer Bill Szymczyk. His first album with the group, 1976’s Hotel California, gave him ample opportunity to put his fiery guitar work to use, alongside guitarist Don Felder, and transformed the sound of the band, known best for its laid-back country-rock style.
“When Bernie decided that he just wasn’t interested very much in continuing, Don [Henley] and Glenn thought I would plug in really well with where the Eagles were eventually going to go,” Walsh told our sister publication Guitar World. “And at the time, I was going, ‘Aw fuck, it’s time to do another solo album. Oh, shit. Anybody got any ideas?’ You know? So, it all just kind of came together. I joined the Eagles, and the result, of course, was Hotel California.”
Tributes to the late Glenn Frey continue to come in since word of his death at age 67 was reported. Frey died in New York City on Monday from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. The guitarist had been battling intestinal problems for months. He had surgery for those issues in November, but his health declined in recent days.
On Tuesday, his friend and frequent musical collaborator Jackson Browne addressed Frey’s passing two songs into his performance in Tampa, Florida.
“This is a sad, sad, sad day,” Browne told the audience, without mentioning Frey by name, and without needing to. “The only thing I want to do is what I know how to do.”
Frey and Browne wrote several songs together, including Eagles’ first hit, “Take It Easy.”