Joe Walsh, Ringo Starr and the Mission to Save 45 Million Addicted Americans

The Eagles guitarist and Beatles drummer have a frank conversation about the fear, sacrifice and surrender required for getting sober

It was a foggy autumn night in New York’s Rainbow Room when Joe Walsh took center stage — no guitar in sight. So he addressed the elephant in the room: “I’m Joe, and I’m an alcoholic.” It’s a half-joke, meant to set the audience at ease while gently reminding tables of suits that addiction is not some distant, dark memory; but on the contrary it’s a specter that hangs over fifty million Americans. Even the ones who sell out Madison Square Garden.

That night the 71-year-old old Eagles guitarist, 25 years a “sober alcoholic,” received the highest humanitarian award for activism in the addiction recovery community, jointly awarded by the nonprofit Facing Addiction and the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD). His wife, the elegant Marjorie Bach, was also honored and she stood behind him, wiping tears from her eyes with a napkin even when he cracked jokes. Bach is 27 years sober. Earlier, she spoke with unflinching gravitas about fearing at one point, her husband would die. Walsh’s in-laws, Ringo Starr and Barbara Bach, presented them with the award.  Between the four of them, they have over a century of sobriety. 

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