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Joe Vitale Interview: Drummer With CSNY, Eagles, John Lennon – Rolling Stone

Joe Vitale Interview: Drummer With CSNY, Eagles, John Lennon – Rolling Stone

Joe Vitale Interview: Drummer With CSNY, Eagles, John Lennon – Rolling Stone
August 28
12:50 2020

Rolling Stone interview series Unknown Legends features long-form conversations between senior writer Andy Greene and veteran musicians who have toured and recorded alongside icons for years, if not decades. All are renowned in the business, but some are less well known to the general public. Here, these artists tell their complete stories, giving an up close look at life on music’s A list. This edition features drummer and songwriter Joe Vitale.

Veteran drummer Joe Vitale was asleep for the night when Bob Dylan’s June 2020 interview with The New York Times went online, but a friend phoned him to say he had to wake up and read it at once. “I said, ‘Man, I can read it in the morning,’” he recalls. “I woke up later and read it and was like, ‘Damn! I wish that I had read that in the middle of the night!’”

Midway through the interview, historian Douglas Brinkley asked Dylan about his favorite Eagles songs. “‘New Kid in Town,’ ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ ‘Pretty Maids All in a Row,’” said Dylan. “That could be one of the best songs ever.”

Back in 1976, Vitale co-wrote “Pretty Maids All in A Row” with Joe Walsh, his longtime close friend and collaborator. “Coming from Bob Dylan, it doesn’t get any better than that,” says Vitale. “I called Joe immediately. And he goes, ‘I know what you’re calling about.’ I said, ‘This is so cool, Joe.’ He was excited too. He thought that was really cool. I printed out that article and framed it.”

Walsh has been playing with Walsh steadily for the past 50 years, but it’s just one part of his incredible musical legacy that also includes tours with Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Buffalo Springfield, the Stills-Young Band, Peter Frampton, Ted Nugent, the Eagles, and sessions with everyone from John Lennon and John Entwistle to Bill Wyman, Ringo Starr, and Eric Carmen.

We phoned up Vitale at his job in Canton, Ohio, to hear stories from his epic career. (We were just able to scratch the surface, so check out his book Backstage Pass for even more.)

Have you always lived in Canton?
I was born here. Briefly lived in Florida and briefly lived in Colorado, but I came back home.

I want to go back and talk about your life. When did you first get interested in playing music?
Well, father was a musician. My brother was a musician. My uncles were musicians. We were surrounded my music all the time. I was always pounding on my mom’s pots and pans. My dad said, “Guess what? You’re going to be a drummer.” I loved playing drums back then.

I started taking lessons when I was six. My father, being a musician, really knew a lot of the local teachers. I was really blessed. I had some incredible teachers. We grew up pretty poor. My dad was a barber, so we worked out a deal where he gave haircuts to the drum teacher and they traded off, haircuts for drum lessons.

Who were your music heroes back then?
My father was a jazz musician, so I was surrounded by jazz. I was listening to Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa and all those guys. That lasted a long time. In the Sixties, I started listening to rock & roll. I’m sure you heard this from everyone my age, but once the Beatles played Ed Sullivan it changed our lives and we were big Ringo fans.

Who did you get into as the Sixties went on?
Keith Moon and, of course, John Bonham. One of our favorite drummers that a lot of people don’t talk about, and we all wanted to be him, was Dino Danelli from the Rascals. Dino was so cool. He was a great drummer, but his whole stage act and whole thing was just cool. He was flipping sticks and he just had this cool attitude on his face. I finally got a chance to meet him later in life and that was very exciting.

Source: Joe Vitale Interview: Drummer With CSNY, Eagles, John Lennon – Rolling Stone

About Author

Martin Nethercutt

Martin Nethercutt

Martin A Nethercutt is a writer, singer, producer and loves music. Creative Director at McCartney Studios Editor-in-Chief at McCartney Times Creator-in-Chief at Geist Musik President (title) at McCartney Multimedia, Inc. Went to Albert-Schweitzer-Schule Kassel Lives in Playa del Rey From Kassel, Germany Married to Ruth McCartney

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