Monday, March 19, 2007

Rock Star Joe Walsh - pictures at his home in LA

Back in 2002, I had the opportunity to meet and interview
rock star Joe Walsh (James Gang, The Eagles) at his 'bachelor
pad' home in Studio City (he really lives in San Diego - this house
is just filled with toys and he hangs here while working in the
studios in Los Angeles). The house is on Blairwood Drive in
the winding streets above Studio City.

I spent over 2 hours in the house, preparing for photos for a
magazine shoot (CQ Magazine - devoted to ham radio interests,
one of Joe's callings). It ended up being the cover story
(November 2002 issue). The interview was conducted by phone
a month before, so this day was reserved for photos.

These are scans of the slides I shot - I also shot 2 1/4" slides
with a Hasselblad 500c but the magazine wanted only the 35mm
slides. Fine by me - paid quite well, and hey - I got to meet
a favorite rock star of my own past!

This was a really fun project - I had never done anything this high
profile before. My girlfriend Anne (now wife) went with me on the
trip from Seattle to LA, and we had a blast. But at the time I had
HUGE guilt because my mother was dying in a nursing home in
Tacoma - she was WAY past the conscious point and I had spent
nearly every day and hour with her in the weeks prior - but there
was no way I could have passed on this assignment without huge
grief from the publisher, and I figured that my mother would
understand (and given that she was not able to perceive the
world at that point). So we just went, and I'll
always feel guilty for doing it. But in the end, it all worked out ok - I
was back in time to be with my mom again, and we got the cover.

I'll never forget my nervousness taking all the film to the lab in
Hollywood. Joe had just left for San Diego, then off on tour - no
re-shoot chances at all! If the slides were bad, I was toast. Slides,
as photographers know, have very little exposure leeway and
tolerance, especially with flash. So I was VERY
nervous, and decided to have the film processed at a major
studio-grade lab in LA. Imagine my relief when they all came out
great, with the exposures exactly as I had planned them to be!

The next 2 months I crafted the article, and sent the whole
package off to CQ magazine, and as I type this, I can see the
autographed copy of the final piece in a frame over my desk.
Along with the autographed Hotel California
LP and The Eagles guitar picks that Joe gave me at his house.
All in all, it was one of the most memorable and exciting projects
of my life!

Note: These are just raw scans from a slide scanner - the cropping
isn't perfect, there may be dust, the saturation may not be perfect,
etc. I didn't feel like doing all the little corrections. These are pretty
much exactly how the editor saw them, and he liked them enough to
give me the gig.

Note also: Please respect that these are c. 2002 David E. Ellison
I realize it's easy to copy and paste them - that's fine - just use
them respectfully for your own use and don't try to publish
them or use them for some negative purpose. They are all
digitally signed (embedded), as are all my online photos.

Captions follow.

This was my favorite shot, and the one I hoped the magazine
would use. It was shot on 2 1/4" Fujichrome slide film on
a Hasselblad 500c, with 1000 ws of flash with umbrellas.
I intentionally balanced the dark and light space based
on the magazine's history of cover placements. I actually
asked Joe Walsh, rock star, idol of my own teenage rock
band years (I play guitar), to CHANGE HIS SHIRT!
He had been wearing a white grungy tee-shirt, and I asked
him if he had a black sweater of some kind, so the magazine
would have black space in the lower right corner. So Joe
changed his shirt for me!
But alas, they chose the last picture in this series, rather
than this shot - after all that. But it still remains a fave
of mine, and how many people can say they asked a
rock star to change their shirt for them!

Living room - pretty much just a radio room now.
Joe lived here during his 'wild and crazy' days, but now
it's just a place to live while working in LA. But this is
where most of his ham radio gear lives. By the way, if
it means anything to you, his callsign is WB6ACU

Joe in the basement studio (where a number of his album
projects were recorded). Here with his Synthesis Technology
synthesizer that he built up from modules
This is one of my favorite pix we shot that day.

One of several basement radio positions
I just love the busted window frame in the background
The guy is worth mega-millions, but like the rest of us,
his basement is just his basement. Joe is about
the most unassuming rock star on the planet.

Another basement radio position, with a view of Studio
City through the window and over the hill in the

This is the shot the magazine ended up using (they cropped
it a bit). Not my first choice - this was shot hand-held, with
a 'potato masher' flash. The shot at the top was what I
hoped they would use - larger slide (Hasselblad 2 1/4"),
and in my opinion, a better shot. But hey - I still got the
cover, so I don't care.


Craig said...

Dave, you lucky dog! There are few experiences that compare to having so many facets of your life come together in one moment like this – photography, music, and ham radio.

I can relate after having shot stills of, among many people, one of my film heroes, Dennis Weaver, for publicity on a television program. But shooting WB6ACU would be the ultimate.

Craig - photographer, guitarist, Eagles fan, and W2LHM

P.S. I’d choose the first one for the cover, too.

mel t. said...

I'm a lifelong Walsh fan and a ham as well, and have a copy of the CQ mag with this story. How great to know the story behind the shoot! I've also had the privilege of meeting JW on a few occasions, and he's one of the most laid-back, down-to-earth people I've ever met - great guy! Thanks for sharing this on your site!

Melanie, KC0RZG

bryan said...

Good job Dave and Congrats on the killer shoot.

Being a guitarist, ham and a big JW fan this was a true treat.

Thanks for posting the story and ROCK ON ~~~

Bryan Wadsworth ~ WB9MCW

Anonymous said...


I work for the National Electronics museum in linthicum, MD where we have an amateur radio station. We are redoing the exhibit boards for the radio station and we would like to inlcude a few pictures of famous HAMS. May I have your permission to use one of Joe Walsh's pictures in our exhibit?

Thank you,


Account Administrator said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Account Administrator said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

用心經營的blog~您的部落格文章真棒!! ........................................

Anonymous said...

Joe is the coolest guy their is!!!

Account Administrator said...

Translation of the Chinese above: Careful management of the blog ~ your awesome blog!!

Antti, OH2DT said...

I've been a JW fan ever since 'Hotel California'. I've tried my hand at guitar (as well as some amateur photography) but Joe is the wizard I greatly admire.
Very nice photos!