Joe Walsh: Stage fright led to battle with addiction

Joe Walsh: Stage fright led to battle with addiction

Joe Walsh, the renowned guitarist for rock band The Eagles, recently recalled how his epic descent into decades of substance abuse began as a cure for crippling stage fright.

Walsh, who has been sober for 25 years, was speaking at a charity gala sponsored by Facing Addiction With NCADD at which he and his wife Marjorie were honored with a humanitarian award for their years of support of the recovery movement.

Facing Addiction With NCADD is the new name of the recently merged groups Facing Addiction Inc. and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). The two advocacy groups provide services focused on treatment, prevention and reform.

Walsh helped launch the grassroots group Facing Addiction, and performed at the group’s massive rally on The Mall in Washington DC in October, 2015.

In 2016, Novus chronicled Walsh’s years of addiction and inspiring recovery in a detailed biography, covering his life from before, during and after his battle with substance abuse.

Walsh and Marjorie were cheered on at the presentation by two stellar members of the audience, Ringo Starr and his wife actress Barbara Bach, married since 1981. Even more fun when you learn that Ringo and Barbara are Walsh and Marjorie’s brother- and sister-in-law – Barbara and Marjorie are sisters.

Childhood troubles

Walsh told the audience about his personal journey of alcohol and drug dependence, which had its roots in a very troubled childhood that contributed to paralyzing stage fright later in life.

Growing up in the 1950s, his life was a desperate struggle for normalcy. He was suffering from not one, but three undiagnosed conditions that today are recognized, named and treatable – including Asperger’s syndrome.

“There was no awareness of what that was,” he said. “You were just difficult. I was difficult. I was different that way from the other kids, and because of that I was terrified. I was truly terrified because I felt stupid and alone and that nobody understood.

“In my late teenage years I tried to play guitar in front of some people and I couldn’t do it. I was so scared. I could not do it. I hyperventilated. I started shaking. I started crying.”

That’s when he discovered that “a couple of beers” took the edge off the stage fright. “That planted the seed. I thought alcohol was a winner,” he said.

He recalled that in college, cocaine and “other substances” seemed to help with writing and playing so much that his records became popular. “And later on when I did an album that didn’t do so good I thought, well obviously I’m not drinking nearly as much as I need to,” he added.

“My higher power became vodka and cocaine,” Walsh said. “I burned all the bridges. Nobody wanted to work with me. I was angry. I turned into this godless, hateful thing.”

Alcoholics Anonymous helped recovery

With the help of AA, Walsh finally got sober – over time, but it worked. “Gradually they showed me that I’m not a unique, one-of-a-kind person. I’m just an alcoholic, and for the first time in my life I felt like I was somewhere where I belonged.”

After The Eagles reformed in the 1990s and began recording again, his life took on a new dimension, including the decision to help others suffering from addiction.

Ringo Starr, also a recovering addict and alcoholic, told The Associated Press at the event that he also wants to help people before they hit rock bottom. As a Beatle, he said, it didn’t take long for the band to realize drugs and alcohol did nothing for the music.

If you or someone you love is battling a substance use disorder, don’t hesitate to give Novus a call. We’ll help get you pointed in the right direction to get the situation fully handled.

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