Three Joes and Two of My Heroes
I had the opportunity to meet two of my heroes last night and it represented a lot of things coming together quickly that encapsulated a 40 year passage of time.
I grew up in Canton, Ohio and went to Lehman High School with a guy named Joey Vitale. Joe was an excellent drummer and always won all the drum contests and began playing in local bands in high school. Also during this time there was a little known guy named Joe Walsh who was playing music around the bars at Kent State University, in Kent, Ohio. Since Kent State is 30 minutes from Canton, it is a popular choice for college in the area, and I am proud to have been named a Distinguished Alumni there in 1999. Joe Vitale and Joe Walsh eventually met and the rest is history. They have been in numerous bands together over the decades. Joe used to play at a bar in Kent called the 5th Quarter in a group called the Measles. They later played at a bar where I worked as a bouncer (yep, honest) called the Dome, also in Kent. Joe Walsh went through numerous groups including the James Gang and Joe Vitale recorded several albums went all over the world and toured with just about every well known artist and group. They included Ted Nugent, Joe Walsh, Dan Fogelberg, Peter Frampton, The Eagles, Crosby, Stills and Nash, and CSNY to name a few. In addition, he has recorded with Rick Derringer, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, Keith Richards, Bill Wyman, Ronnie Wood, Van Morrison, Carl Wilson, Don Felder, Boz Scaggs, John Entwhistle and many others. No one drums like Joey V!
Joe Niamtu with fellow Canton, Ohio Drum legend Joe Vitale
April with Joe and Joe
So, Joe Walsh eventually hooked up with the Eagles and Joe Vitale also played with the group. One of my favorite videos is Hotel California with my pal Joe Vitale on the keyboard and Joe Walsh and Don Felder battling out the most famous guitar solo together.
So…..yesterday (the day of the concert) I tried to hook up with Joe Vitale and bingo, was successful. Although I have not seen him in decades, it seemed like only days. He is the most down to earth guy in the world. We shared some old stories and we would meet backstage in the evening.
As stated, Joe Walsh has always been one of my heroes, not just because of his guitar and music prowess, but also because he is simply wild. Crazy guy who is always hamming it up. For instance, he came out on stage last night and greeted the crowd with “good morning”. Vintage Walsh! April and I had the opportunity to meet Joe Walsh and share a few Kent State stories. Another Kent State and Measles musician Bobby Supulveda was a mutual friend from the “Dome” days and Joe’s first band mate and we discussed him. The Measles used to play this dance at the end of the night at the bar called the “Gamma Goochie”. It was a crazy song with suggestive lyrics and everyone would start wildly dancing in circles and “polka” into each other and it got pretty physical. Like the first mosh pit ever. Joe laughed when I reminded him about the Gamma Goochie, said he may play it that night!
The concert was awesome, vintage Walsh through the decades to the jamming beat of Joe Vitale with a dedication of “life in the Fast Lane” dedicated to “my brother and bandmate Glen Frey”.
A lot of great things came together in a short amount of time yesterday that had special meaning in my life from my birthplace in Canton, Ohio to my awesome city of Richmond, Virginia and got to see two of my heroes.
Joe Niamtu, III DMD
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