Waddy Wachtel

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Waddy Wachtel
Wachtel in 2009
Background information
Birth nameRobert T. Wachtel
Born (1947-05-24) May 24, 1947 (age 76)
Jackson Heights, New York, U.S.
  • Musician
  • composer
  • record producer
  • bandleader
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1970–present

Robert "Waddy" Wachtel (born May 24, 1947) is an American musician, composer and record producer, most notable for his guitar work. Wachtel has worked as session musician for other artists such as Linda Ronstadt, Beth Hart, Stevie Nicks, Kim Carnes, Randy Newman, Keith Richards, The Rolling Stones (lead guitar on "Saint of Me"), Jon Bon Jovi, James Taylor, Iggy Pop, Warren Zevon, Bryan Ferry, Michael Sweet, Jackson Browne, and Andrew Gold, both in the studio and live.[1]

Early years[edit]

Wachtel was born May 24, 1947, in Jackson Heights to a Jewish family[2] in the New York City borough of Queens. At about age 9–10,[1] Wachtel began to learn to play the guitar, taking lessons with teacher Gene Dell (who insisted that he learn to play right-handed despite being naturally left-handed) until about age 14. At that age, he says, he began writing songs.[3]

Wachtel also studied with Rudolph Schramm, who was the head of the NBC staff orchestra and went on to teach music at Carnegie Hall. Schramm tried to get Wachtel to take piano lessons, but Wachtel was intent on playing guitar so Schramm agreed to give him guitar lessons three times a week on rhythm, melody and harmony.

After performing with local bands in the New York area, Wachtel formed his own band, The Orphans, who played in Connecticut and New Hampshire. Eventually the band settled into a regular bar band routine, playing in Newport, Rhode Island, where Wachtel took lessons from Sal Salvador.[2] When the Orphans disbanded, he formed another band, Twice Nicely. At the suggestion of Bud Cowsill (of The Cowsills), he brought Twice Nicely to Los Angeles in 1968 where they recorded a few demos, but after two years, Wachtel decided to work as a session player.[3]


Wachtel with his Les Paul guitar, in 2009

In 1972, he made an appearance in the film The Poseidon Adventure as the acoustic guitar player in a fictitious band on stage in the dining room when the ship capsizes.

He also played in the Oscar-winning short film, "Session Man" in 1991. Wachtel has composed and played instruments for film scores including Joe Dirt, Up in Smoke, Nice Guys Sleep Alone, The Longest Yard, The Benchwarmers, Grandma's Boy, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Strange Wilderness, The House Bunny, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. He has also composed, produced, or performed in songs with Warren Zevon, Joe Walsh, Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and others.

Session and touring work[edit]

Wachtel with The Cowsills in 2009

In 1972, he was hired by Warren Zevon to play guitar on The Everly Brothers' Stories We Could Tell album and join them in a subsequent tour.

By 1973, he played with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks on their first album Buckingham Nicks (credited as 'Waddy', no surname), and on tour. Later, when Nicks and Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac, he played rhythm guitar on their 1975 album Fleetwood Mac on the track "Sugar Daddy".

In 1980, he wrote, recorded and sang lead vocals on an album for producer Peter Asher with members of Linda Ronstadt's band, including musicians Don Grolnick, Dan Dugmore, Stanley Sheldon and Rick Marotta. Both the group and the album were titled Ronin. Released on the Mercury label, the record never charted.

In 1984, he played on Steve Perry's (Journey) solo album Street Talk.

He has appeared on hundreds of albums with many different artists and bands.

Production credits include albums by Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards, Jackson Browne, Bryan Ferry, The Church, Sand Rubies, George Thorogood and the Destroyers and Warren Zevon. Wachtel co-wrote several songs with Zevon including "Werewolves of London".[4] He also co-wrote the Warren Zevon song "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead" from the album Mr. Bad Example. He performed on all seven Warren Zevon albums from 1976 through 1992, producing or co-producing three.

Wachtel also shares co-writing credits with Stevie Nicks on a few tracks such as "Annabel Lee", and "I Don't Care".

Wachtel has been credited on some albums as Bob Wachtel, but some online sources have incorrectly credited him as Richard Wachtel on albums on which he was credited as having played guitar.[5]

Legal problems[edit]

Wachtel was arrested in 1998 on suspicion of possession of child pornography after images were found on a computer he had at home.[6][7][8] Wachtel pleaded no contest and was placed on probation for three years.[9]

Musician Brett Tuggle defended Wachtel saying "there is no way that Stevie would have him in her band if she thought he was guilty of any wrongdoing."[10] A detective of the Los Angeles juvenile sex crimes division reported that Wachtel produced copies of the computer-stored images which he kept in his bedroom.[11]


Wachtel plays a 1960 Gibson Les Paul and 1957 Fender Stratocaster.[12] He said in a 1980 interview that the newest made guitar he owned was a 1964 Fender Stratocaster. Wachtel purchased the Les Paul guitar from Stephen Stills for $350.[13] In September 2014 the Gibson Custom Shop chose the 1960 Les Paul Waddy Wachtel guitar for their new Collector's Choice series.[14]

2000 to present[edit]

Wachtel performs regularly with the Waddy Wachtel Band in the Los Angeles area, notably at The Joint from 2000 through 2013. The band at that time included Phil Jones, Rick Rosas, Bernard Fowler and Blondie Chaplin, among others.[15] He continues to gig with his band, with some personnel changes, while retaining Fowler and Chaplin.[16] Many famous artists have performed with the band as special guests.[17]

Wachtel appeared on the 2010 Grammy Award television show backing Taylor Swift's live presentation. In Swift's duet with Nicks on the song "Rhiannon", Wachtel was featured on lead guitar.

As of 2020, Wachtel is performing with a group of other Southern California classic rock veterans in a group called "The Immediate Family"[18] along with Danny Kortchmar, Leland Sklar, Russ Kunkel, and Steve Postell.


With Bill Cowsill

  • Nervous Breakthrough (MGM Records, 1970)

With The Everly Brothers

With Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks

With Sarah Kernochan

  • Best Around the Bush (RCA Records, 1974)

With Jackie DeShannon

With Fleetwood Mac

With John Stewart

With Splinter

  • Harder to Live (Dark Horse Records, 1975)

With Dianne Brooks

  • Back Stairs in My Life (Reprise Records, 1976)

With Barbi Benton

  • Something New (Polydor Records, 1976)

With Jackson Browne

With Andrew Gold

With Arlo Guthrie

  • Amigo (Reprise Records, 1976)

With Carole King

With Tom Pacheco

  • The Outsider (RCA Records, 1976)

With Tom Snow

  • Tom Snow (Capitol Records, 1976)

With Maria Muldaur

With Linda Ronstadt

With J. D. Souther

With James Taylor

With Wendy Waldman

  • The Main Refrain (Warner Bros. Records, 1976)

With Sammy Walker

  • Sammy Walker (Warner Bros. Records, 1976)

With Nickey Barclay

  • Diamond in a Junkyard (Ariola America, 1976)

With Rusty Wier

  • Black Hat Saloon (Columbia Records, 1976)
  • Stacked Deck (Columbia Records, 1977)

With Warren Zevon

With Karla Bonoff

With Nancy Shanks

  • Nancy Shanx (United Artists Records, 1977)

With Attitudes

  • Good News (Dark Horse Records, 1977)

With Randy Newman

With Bryan Ferry

With Leo Sayer

With Debby Boone

With Richie Furay

  • I Still Have Dreams (Asylum Records, 1979)
  • In The Country (BMG, 2022)

With Adam Mitchell

  • Redhead in Trouble (Warner Bros. Records, 1979)

With Ronnie Hawkins

  • The Hawk (United Artists Records, 1979)

With Louise Goffin

  • Kid Blue (Asylum Records, 1979)
  • Louise Goffin (Asylum Records, 1981)

With Bonnie Raitt

With America

  • Alibi (Capitol Records, 1980)

With Kim Carnes

With Rita Coolidge

With Stevie Nicks

With Helen Reddy

With Phoebe Snow

With Ronnie Wood

With Don Henley

With Kenny Rogers

With Bill Medley

  • Right Here and Now (Planet Records, 1982)

With Bob Seger

With Bette Midler

With Marty Balin

With Ringo Starr

With Joe Walsh

With Dolly Parton

With Steve Perry

With Eric Martin

  • Eric Martin (Capitol Records, 1985)

With Jimmy Barnes

With Rosanne Cash

With Graham Nash

With Karla DeVito

  • Wake 'Em Up In Tokyo (A&M Records, 1986)

With Van Stephenson

  • Suspicious Heart (MCA Records, 1986)

With Dwight Twilley

  • Wild Dogs (CBS Records, 1986)

With Cher

With Lisa Hartman Black

  • 'Til My Heart Stops (Atlantic Records, 1987)

With Melissa Etheridge

With Ivan Neville

With Keith Richards

With Feargal Sharkey

  • Wish (Virgin Records, 1988)

With The Graces

  • Perfect View (A&M Records, 1989)

With Jon Bon Jovi

With Steve Louw

  • Waiting For the Down (Epic Records, 1990)

With Bob Dylan

With Iggy Pop

With Hall & Oates

With Diana Ross

With Rod Stewart

With Troy Newman

  • Gypsy Moon (Warner Bros. Records, 1991)
  • It's Like This (Mega Pop Records, 1995)

With Bonnie Tyler

With Tracy Chapman

With Neil Diamond

With Hanne Boel

  • My Kindred Spirit (Medley Records, 1992)

With Delbert McClinton

With Tom Waits

With Andrew Strong

  • Strong (MCA Records, 1993)

With Gilby Clarke

With A. J. Croce

With Colin James

With Brian Wilson

With Aaron Neville

  • The Tattooed Heart (A&M Records, 1995)

With John Prine

With Michael Sweet

With Bee Gees

With The Wilsons

With Johnny Rivers

  • Last Train to Memphis (Soul City, 1998)
  • Reinvention Highway (Collectors' Choice Music, 2004)

With Amanda Marshall

With Janice Robinson

  • The Color Within Me (Columbia Records, 1999)

With Kim Richey

  • Glimmer (Mercury Records, 1999)

With Shannon McNally

With Robbie Williams

With Keith Gattis

  • Big City Blues (Smith Music Group, 2005)

With Bernard Fowler

  • Friends With Privileges (Sony, 2006)
  • The Bura (MRI, 2016)

With Radney Foster

  • This World We Live In (Dualtone Records, 2006)

With Miranda Lambert

With John Mayer

With David Nail

With Michael Grimm

With Jessie Baylin

  • Little Spark (Blonde Rat, 2012)

With LeAnn Rimes

With Edie Brickell and Steve Martin

With Judith Owen

  • Ebb & Flow (Twanky Records, 2014)
  • Somebody's Child (Twanky Records, 2016)

With Neil Young

With Mindi Abair

With Pat McGee

With Beth Hart

With Sheryl Crow

  • Threads (Big Machine Records, 2019)

With Anders Osborne

  • Buddha & The Blues (Back on Dumaine Records, 2019)

With Kate Taylor

  • Why Wait! (Red House Records, 2021)

With Edgar Winter

  • Brother Johnny (Quarto Valley Records, 2022)

With Ian Hunter

  • Defiance Part 1 (Sun, 2023)

Filmography (partial)[edit]

Year Title Director(s) Notes
1972 The Poseidon Adventure Ronald Neame Uncredited guitarist
1978 Up in Smoke Lou Adler with Danny Kortchmar and Lee Oskar (member of Yesca)
2001 Joe Dirt Dennie Gordon
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Sam Weisman with Christophe Beck
2006 Grandma's Boy Nicholaus Goossen
The Benchwarmers Dennis Dugan
'Last Request John DeBellis
2008 Strange Wilderness Fred Wolf
The House Bunny Fred Wolf
2009 Paul Blart: Mall Cop Steve Carr
2011 Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star Tom Brady
Jack and Jill Dennis Dugan with Rupert Gregson-Williams
2013 Jimi: All Is by My Side John Ridley with Danny Bramson
2015 Joe Dirt 2: Beautiful Loser Fred Wolf Digital film


Wachtel is married.[19]


  1. ^ a b Gans, David (March 7, 1980). "Waddy Wachtel: Confessions of a "Mafia" Guitarist". Bam Magazine. BAM. 5 (74): 40. Retrieved July 25, 2009.
  2. ^ a b "Waddy Wachtel". The Penguin Biographies. Martin and Lisa Adelson. Archived from the original on May 29, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  3. ^ a b Kutina, Scott E. (February 1, 1981). "International Musician And Recording World, Waddy Wachtel". Volume 3. International Musician And Recording World. pp. Number 2. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
  4. ^ "Werewolves of London", Johnny Black, Blender, April 2008
  5. ^ "Waddy Wachtel Discography". Waddywachtelinfo.com. January 1, 1980. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  6. ^ "Guitarist Wachtel Busted For Child Pornography". MTV. July 10, 1998. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 29, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2008.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ Shauna Snow (July 11, 1998). "Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press". Articles.latimes.com. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "Guitarist Gets Probation in Child Pornography". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1998.
  10. ^ "Brett Tuggle Q&A Session, September 2000". Fleetwoodmac.net. Archived from the original on March 23, 2011. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  11. ^ "Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press". Los Angeles Times. July 11, 1998. Retrieved October 17, 2021.
  12. ^ "Rig Rundown - Waddy Wachtel". YouTube. February 14, 2017. Archived from the original on December 13, 2021. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  13. ^ "Rig Rundown - Waddy Wachtel". premiereguitar.com. February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  14. ^ "Gibson Custom: Collector's Choice™ #14 1960 Les Paul "Waddy Wachtel"". Gibson.com. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  15. ^ Patrick Doyle (July 24, 2013). "Waddy Wachtel Reflects on Working With Warren Zevon, Keith Richards". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  16. ^ "Waddy Wachtel Band". Waddywachtelinfo.com. January 1, 1980. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  17. ^ "Waddy Wachtel Band: Photos of Special Guests appearing with the Waddy Wachtel Band". Waddywachtelinfo.com. January 1, 1980. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  18. ^ "The Immediate Family: James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt Session Vets Launch New Band". Rolling Stone. June 11, 2020.
  19. ^ "Guitarist Gets Probation in Child Pornography". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1998.

External links[edit]