As snow swirled in Seattle, rocker Joe Walsh was feted by the likes of Ringo Starr, Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, guitar marvel Kenny Wayne Shepherd and rocker and producer Todd Rundgren as he received The Founders Award at the Museum of POP Culture.
Life has indeed been good to rocker Joe Walsh.
Two weeks ago, he and the surviving members of The Eagles were celebrated at the 39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors in Washington, D.C.
And last night, as snow swirled in Seattle, Walsh was feted by the likes of Ringo Starr, Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters, guitar marvel Kenny Wayne Shepherd and rocker and producer Todd Rundgren as he received The Founders Award at the Museum of POP Culture.
“I didn’t think anybody was going to come,” Walsh cracked in his signature, whimsical whine.
The award was presented to him by Starr.
“I love the man,” Starr said. “Joe and I have known each other a long time, and probably longer than either of us can remember. Because we were both taking lots of medication.”
“… Now that we are both medication free, we remember everything.”
Earlier in the day, Starr tweeted a photo of the view from his hotel window:
I love the view I’m getting excited tonight we will be at MoPOP which is celebrating Joe @ Walsh peace and love. pic.twitter.com/irGbMKhaYk
— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) December 8, 2016
The connection? The two men are in-laws. Starr has been married to Barbara Bach since 1981, and Walsh married Barbara’s sister, Marjorie, in 2008. The two musicians have appeared together a number of times, most recently last May during a show on Walsh’s tour with Bad Company.
That recent tour explains why the celebrants included Bad Company frontman Paul Rodgers, who joined Grohl and Hawkins (Walsh made a guest appearance on the Foo’s 2014 album “Sonic Highways”), Shepherd, funk and soul artist Robert Randolph (who worked with Walsh on a solo blues album) and Rundgren, who — along with Walsh — is a member of Starr’s “All-Starr Band,” which he formed in 1989.
Walsh, 69, has been on a bit of an awards circuit lately — although The Founder’s Award, presented by MoPOP owner, billionaire and philanthropist Paul Allen is the first time Walsh has been recognized for his solo work. (Last year’s award went to Jimmy Page.)
Just two weeks ago, he and the surviving members of The Eagles (founder Glenn Frey died in January) received the Kennedy Center Honors, which recognize “lifetime artistic achievements.” The awards show will be broadcast Dec. 27.
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The Founders Award celebration is the signature event for MoPOP, formerly Experience Music Project. It honors the life’s work of living legends while raising money for the institution’s education programs. (Total raised was $1.2 million, including a guitar signed by Walsh that went for $7,000; $50,000 donations from Olivia Harrison, widow of Beatle George Harrison; Starr and Bach; and Grohl.)
Also in the audience last night: Krist Novoselic of Nirvana and “Survivor” host Jeff Probst, who grew up in Bellevue. Video tributes from Keith Urban, James Taylor, Jeff Lynne, Ronnie Wood, David Crosby and Graham Nash were shown in between performances.
They included Rundgren’s wonderful rendition of “Life’s Been Good”; Rodgers singing “Life in the Fast Lane”; and Walsh performing “Walk Away” with Grohl on guitar and Hawkins on drums.
“We rehearsed once,” Walsh cracked.
Earlier in the day, Walsh met with students involved in museum programs, including the members of Electric Magnetic Pulse — or EMP — who performed at the awards dinner.
“Everything he said had a lot of meaning,” guitarist Cameron Lavi-Jones said of Walsh’s visit.
From the stage, singer Paris Alexa thanked Walsh and Allen for the chance to play, but had to confess:
“All of us freaked out,” she said. “Singing Joe Walsh’s song to Joe Walsh?”
In his speech, Walsh reiterated the need for music programs like MoPOP’s.
“They shut down music programs in public schools something like 10 years ago,” he said. “And now they’re going, ‘Geez, what happened to music? There’s no good songs anymore!’ Duh!
“My high school music teacher has a lot to do with the reason I’m here because he told me, ‘Joe, you got it, go do it.'”
His grandparents pushed him to go to college, he said, so when he showed his grandmother his first gold record, she asked, “When are you going to cut your hair and get a job?”
“It’s so important that young people have a place,” he told the crowd. “It’s like ‘Field of Dreams.’ You build it, and they will come and play. And that’s what this place is.”
That done, it was time to play music. “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Turn to Stone.” It went until midnight, while just outside the doors, snow covered Seattle.