A life-long member of the Church of Rock’nRoll, Walter Egan came of age as that music and movement was shaking up the world. The collective voice of a generation determined to find something real in a buttoned-down lock-step world. [More Biography below the gallery] photo: www.MusicCityRoots.com
Walter Lindsay Egan Art Gallery
He heard Elvis’ battle cry that night on Ed Sullivan and it raised goose-bumps on his young flesh.And eight years later that goose-flesh came again; as four young lads from Liverpool resonated that same call on that same stage; and Walter was one of millions inspired in that moment: like Tom Petty, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, Jackson Browne…
In those intervening years between ’56 and ’64 his maturation included teaching himself to play the guitar and discovering the consciousness expansion that arrived with folk music, these songs had motive and meaning and set young minds to wondering.
And it was in that fateful year of 1964 that Walter became a songwriter living in that vibrant metropolis New York City. Raised in a household where step-father was an art director and mom a copy director on Madison Avenue, a true son of Mad Men he was. Creativity was expected, encouraged, and rewarded.
In high school an opportunity to join a surf band (the Malibooz) led him to acquire a Fender Stratocaster electric guitar and thus the pieces were now in place, the foundation laid for his life-long obsession and vocation.
In college as an art major he painted, sculpted and printed, finding new means of expression; more arrows in the quiver of his creativity.
Just as much as attending his course at Georgetown University (and graduating with a BFA in Art), during those years he religiously attended concerts being schooled by the likes of the Beatles, Hendrix, Dylan, the Stones, the Kinks, the Who, the Beach Boys, The Animals, the Dave Clark Five, The Doors, the Mothers, Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds…and he was among the throng at Woodstock in ’69.
This was his real education.With his band Sageworth he regaled the Georgetown DC area along with their peers: Bill “Take Me Home Country Roads” Danoff, Nils Lofgren, and Emmylou Harris.His break as a songwriter came when his composition “Hearts On Fire” was recorded by the soon to be martyred patron saint of Americana, Alt-Country, Country Rock Gram Parsons and his friend Emmylou. He followed that break and migrated to Los Angeles in the mid-seventies to chase his dream.
Walter fell in with the LA country-rock scene, Chris Darrow, Linda Ronstadt, Don Henley, Glen Frey, David Lindley, Jules Shear, and Jackson Browne and within two years, through a hoot night at the Troubadour, had secured a record deal from United Artists records in England. This was soon parlayed into a six-album deal with Columbia Records. That’s when he fell in with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, and they produced and performed on his first two albums, Fundamental Roll and Not Shy, including his million-seller “Magnet and Steel”.
Egan and his band toured extensively through the end of the seventies sharing the bill with Procol Harum, Heart, Kansas, Foreigner, Dave Mason, AC DC, the Beach Boys, Fleetwood Mac, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Achieving success is a by-product of hard work, perseverance, talent, opportunity and a lot of luck, maintaining and repeating involves the same challenges but with more random factors like record company politics. Many fall through the cracks swept away by the changing tides of trends and perception.
What’s an artist to do?
The real artist who lives and breathes his creativity has no choice, he perseveres and does his work.
Perceived as a teenage crooner Walter took steps to redefine himself as a true rocker and soon released his fifth album Wild Exhibitions in 1983 on Backstreet Records, which was Tom Petty’s label. The LP showcased his considerable talent for crafting clever intelligent songs that touched the heart, fed the mind and got you foot tapping. Before label politics blindsided his release, his song the rocking “Fool Moon Fire” was poised to take him back to the top before a shakeup at the label derailed that effort. Despite this, the record broke into the top forty.
While still working at his craft the following years were a desultory stroll in the wilderness of marriage and family (and providing for them). After a spell as a songwriter for Brian Ferry’s publishing company, E’G Music, Egan signed on as bass player for the legendary band Spirit through the end of the eighties. He wrote hype for the RCA records in-house monthly magazine; he reviewed books for West Coast Review of Books/ Books 100; he was a winning contestant on a couple of TV game shows; he worked as an extra in movies and TV; and he continued writing, performing and recording great music.
When he inherited his family home he and his family relocated to Queens, New York.
A new phenomena began happening in his life, he suddenly was an answer in crossword puzzles: in the New York Times, People magazine, TV Guide, and in syndicated puzzles across (and down) America.
Walter and his music had become a name in our national culture, a thread in the fabric of our lives…and a piece of many people’s fond memories.In the nineties something else happened, his song started to be featured in feature films: The Night We Never Met, Overnight Delivery, Boogie Nights, This Is Forty, as well as the TV show Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
On the east coast he played country rock with the Wild Ponies and the Brooklyn Cowboys with pedal steel star Buddy Cage as well as playing lead guitar for Randy and the Rainbows (“Denise”). The Brooklyn Cowboys were a well-liked Americana band throughout America and in Europe with their three CDs into the new millennium.
But New York City can be a hard row to hoe and by ’98 Walter and his family had moved to Franklin Tennessee outside Nashville. In Music City Egan still writes and records and performs with his Walternative Band and does session work. Since the move he has released The Lost Album (aka The Mad Dog Album); Walternative; Apocalypso Now; Raw Elegant; Myth America; True Songs; and the forthcoming fascination. He has played guitar for the legendary Wanda Jackson. Eminem used Walter’s ‘Hot Summer Nights’ as the basis for his ‘We Made You’ top ten release.
He has had exhibitions of his paintings in New York, Washington DC and Hollywood.
He continues to work and record with the Malibooz.
He has been a survivor in a business where many of his peers have fallen. It has brought him through and rewarded him with the dubious distinction of too many candles on his birthday cake. Yes, age cannot be denied but neither can experience and artistic drive and instincts. So Walter is a “one-hit wonder’ but it’s a wonder there haven’t been more. His three most famous songs, “Hearts On Fire”, Hot Summer Nights and Magnet and Steel give Egan a unique niche in modern pop-rock music.
As time and life and culture push ever forward into tomorrow inevitably there are artists and work that gets forgotten and misperceived. Yet some of the left behind continue to pursue their Muse from their place between the cracks of culture. Walter Egan has remained true to himself and his calling, keeping the faith.
The perception of his contemporaries who have secured a lasting position in popular culture and consciousness are not penalized for their age but rather judged by their work and ongoing presence. Egan deserves to be heard without the filter of preconception and misperception. His continuing story shows his youth and maturity at the same time.
“fascination” the cd/record is really a movie with a sad yet strong and positive ending. It is a sincere song cycle about rediscovering the ability to fall in love, after time and tears have rendered it a distinct impossibility. It has the added spice of involving a famous woman, well-known by many. It echoes the pathos imbedded in WE’s biggest song Magnet, the paean of unrequited love. In its songs we go through the increments of falling and realizing it may not work out like planned. The struggle to love and be loved. It is the meaningful creation of a seasoned craftsman with songs contemporary and classic.
Almost three decades later, Walter’s signature song is a staple on the radio, and can also be heard in feature films and on television. Meanwhile, he has continued to make original music as both a prolific individual artist, with a total of eight solo CDs to his credit, and as a member of performing and recording bands including the Malibooz and the Brooklyn Cowboys.