I was asked once, what was the funniest gig experience I have ever been through. While I have several hundred stories I could tell, one event on the road really sticks out for me. First a little background on my childhood. My name is Joe Vitale Jr. and I am the son of veteran rock drummer Joe Vitale, who has played drums for the Eagles, Buffalo Springfield, Joe Walsh, Crosby Stills & Nash, Dan Fogelberg, Peter Frampton, and the list goes on. I had a normal childhood but I also grew up going out on tour with my dad. My mom and I watched my dad perform with a multitude of groups and at nearly every show there would be something hilarious worth mentioning.
In 1991, my dad was out on tour with the Joe Walsh opening for the Doobie Brothers. Now as many of you know, Joe Walsh is quite a character... So are the Doobie Brothers. The events which follow started as a simple prank by Joe Walsh and his band serving drinks like waiters to the Doobie Brothers while they were performing their show. This one event started a chain reaction prank war between Joe Walsh's band and the Doobie Brothers and each night they tried to one up each other. This continued for several weeks until the show in Cincinnati, Ohio. During Joe Walsh's song "Funk 49", my dad and another drummer (Joe Walsh likes to have 2 drummers on stage) would toss drum sticks back and forth during the drum solo section. The crowd has always loved this going back into the 1970s. Although I was only 14 at the time, my job was to catch the drumsticks that fell in between the drum sets. This night was no different except that this night the Doobie brothers had lined up behind the wall that separated their equipment from Joe Walsh's gear. Each of them had 2 cans of silly string and when the drum solo started, like a sky full of spaghetti, the silly string flew! It covered both drums sets and due to the wind that evening, the bulk of the silly string landed, covering me. I have all of this on video.
Needless to say the counter attack on the Doobies had already been thought out, planned, and executed. Cincinnati has a wonderful zoo and before we got there, Joe Walsh had his staff contact them and ask them if they could bring out a variety of animals to be paraded across the stage during the Doobie Brothers son "Jesus is Just Alright." The Zoo was happy to comply. So like Noah leading the animals two by two to the ark, Joe Walsh, (dressed as Noah) led the parade of animals, including parrots & emus across the stage. This final strategic strike won Joe Walsh the prank war and forever resides in my memory as one of the funniest on tour events I have ever been a part of.
Joe Vitale Jr
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