Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh just played Desperado for a rain-soaked crowd of 300 at a historic Māori fort in New Zealand

Joe Walsh onstage at Ōtātara Pā
(Image credit: Hawke's Bay App)

The Eagles' most recent show was at the 17,500-capacity Spectrum Center in Charlotte, NC, last month, but guitarist Joe Walsh was on stage again at the weekend, for a much more intimate event.

Walsh joined a group of music students onstage on Saturday at Ōtātara Pā, a historic Māori hillfort on the bands of the Tūtaekuri River in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, where he performed for a rain-soaked crowd of around 300 locals. It's a place that's close to Walsh's heart, as it was this spot where he had an "epiphany" that led him to give up drink and drugs, while on tour with NZ reggae band Herbs in 1989. 

"What happened to me was kind of a spiritual awakening," Walsh told the crowd. "The spirit of this place talked to me and told me who I had become was not me. 

"And the spirit that was here gave me power over all that, that I took back to the United States and I stopped drinking and doing drugs, and I tried to help people who were doing that, and I paid a lot less attention to being famous and having fun spending money. 

"I lost my perspective. I came here and I got it back. I've been 30 years sober now and that's because I came here, and where we are right now has so much good energy and spirit."

On Walsh's previous visit, in 2015, he spent time at Auckland's Hoani Waititi Marae (a Māori meeting ground) where he spoke with members of two gangs, Black Power and the Mongrel Mob, about the dangers of meth addiction. 

This time was a more celebratory affair, as Walsh was entertained by The Ukettes, a band of ukulele players from the local Greenmeadows School, who performed a rousing version of the Eagles' Hotel California, before he joined music students Frankie Stevens, Brannigan Kaa and Pereri King for a cover of The Doors' Roadhouse Blues, then rounded things off with a solo piano version of another Eagles classic, Desperado.  

"I'm so grateful I could come back,” Walsh told the crowd. “I’m kind of home in a way."

Fraser Lewry

Online Editor at Louder/Classic Rock magazine since 2014. 38 years in music industry, online for 25. Also bylines for: Metal Hammer, Prog Magazine, The Word Magazine, The Guardian, The New Statesman, Saga, Music365. Former Head of Music at Xfm Radio, A&R at Fiction Records, early blogger, ex-roadie, published author. Once appeared in a Cure video dressed as a cowboy, and thinks any situation can be improved by the introduction of cats. Favourite Serbian trumpeter: Dejan Petrović.