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James Gang perform for the first time in 16 years at Taylor Hawkins tribute event

Joe Walsh performing live
(Image credit: Benjamin Wright/Twitter)

For the first time in almost two decades, Joe Walsh led his James Gang bandmates Dale Peters and Jim Fox on to the stage, as the legendary hard rock three-piece reunited for Saturday’s mammoth Taylor Hawkins tribute concert.

In what was their first live performance since 2006, Walsh and co were introduced to the audience by Dave Grohl, who fondly reflected, “If you’ve ever seen a picture of Taylor Hawkins, most likely he was wearing a fucking hat that said James Gang on it.”

Grohl also speculated that James Gang might have been Hawkins’ “favorite band of all time, Joe Walsh maybe his favorite person of all time”.

James Gang – like most special guests that day – performed a short three-song setlist, and celebrated their reunion by playing all originals: Walk Away, The Bomber: Closet Queen / Bolero / Cast Your Fate to the Wing and Funk #49.

Kicking off with the lead single from 1971’s Thirds, Walsh wielded his PRS McCarty single-cut electric guitar for Walk Away’s classic rock riffs, with it quickly becoming clear that those 16 years had done absolutely nothing to harm the trio’s rock-steady chemistry.

The Bomber followed suit, before Walsh and co invited Grohl back on stage to round their set off with a rendition of their timeless classic, Funk #49, with the Foo Fighter on drums. 

James Gang were last in action in 2006, when they completed a headline tour of the US that concluded on September 2 at the Maricopa Events Center in Sun City West, Arizona.

They had teased their return in a tweet published the day before the concert, which read, “The James Gang takes the stage for the first time in more than 15 years to honor the memory of their friend, fan and little brother, Taylor Hawkins.”

Unsurprisingly, spectators at the stadium and on social media went nuts for the reunion, with journalist Benjamin Wright writing, “Such an awesome thing for the James Gang to reform especially for Taylor Hawkins tribute concert.

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“They were one of his fave bands,” he continued. “For a bunch of dudes who haven’t played together for more than 15 years, the James Gang are sounding righteous and tight.”

In a statement shared prior to the event (via Ultimate Classic Rock (opens in new tab)), Walsh revealed he was in frequent contact with Hawkins, who regularly quizzed the guitarist on his career.

“Taylor was like my little brother who was always asking questions,” Walsh noted. “He had an insatiable curiosity about playing hard and loud like we used to do in the ’70s. 

“We spoke a lot about being in a three-piece, how we recorded James Gang Rides Again and what life was like for a musician before he was even born. “He thought I was pretty cool and the feeling was mutual.”

James Gang weren’t the only ones to celebrate a reunion during the Taylor Hawkins tribute show. Shortly before their set, Them Crooked Vultures – comprising Josh Homme, John Paul Jones and Dave Grohl – performed their first live show in 12 years.

Other highlights from the 50-song concert included Wolfgang Van Halen’s set, during which he nailed two classic Van Halen tracks, and an appearance from Alex Lifeson and Geddy Lee, who teamed up to deliver a trio of Rush hits.

The roster also included the likes of Brian May, Chrissie Hynde, Nandi Bushell, Paul McCartney, Liam Gallagher, Nile Rodgers, Chevy Metal, Justin Hawkins and many, many more.

A second Taylor Hawkins tribute concert will take place at LA’s Kia Forum on September 27. Visit Foo Fighters’ website (opens in new tab) for more information.

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.