Waddy Wachtel

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Waddy Wachtel
Wachtel, center, with Jackson Browne (left) and John Cowsill (right), February 2009
Background information
Birth name Robert Wachtel
Born (1947-05-24) May 24, 1947 (age 68)
New York City, New York United States
Genres Rock, folk rock, pop, jazz
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, producer, bandleader
Instruments Guitar, vocals
Years active 1970–present
Labels Arista, Elektra, CBS, WEA, Columbia, EMI, Virgin, Asylum, Warner Bros., Giant
Associated acts Stevie Nicks, The Cowsills, Jackson Browne, Bernard Fowler, Blondie Chaplin, Keith Richards, Warren Zevon, James Taylor, George Thorogood, Bob Weir, J.D. Souther, Linda Ronstadt
Website waddywachtelinfo.com
Notable instruments
1958 Gibson Les Paul
1956 Fender Stratocaster

Robert "Waddy" Wachtel (born May 24, 1947) is an American musician, composer and record producer, most notable for his guitar work. Wachtel's passion for music and ease of adaptation toward a variety of genres have placed him in a position as one of the most in-demand session musicians throughout his career, playing with high-profile rock musicians that include Linda Ronstadt, Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards, James Taylor, Iggy Pop, Warren Zevon, Bryan Ferry, Michael Sweet, and Jackson Browne, amongst others, both in the studio, and on tour.[1]

Early years[edit]

Wachtel was born May 24, 1947, in Jackson Heights, Queens, 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. This is the age, he says, that he began writing songs. He became proficient at playing all styles of guitar, including folk music, and found he had a special talent, not just for reading music, but also an ability that allowed him a large measure of recall—a true "ear for music."[2] Wachtel gives much credit for his early training on guitar to 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 about 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, Waddy and his then-current band settled into a regular bar band routine, playing in Newport, Rhode Island, where he studied seriously for a year, taking lessons from Sal Salvador, who he says taught him more about improvising and soloing than he had learned anywhere else.[citation needed] 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, and was then persuaded to record with The Cowsills and produce their albums.[2]


Waddy Wachtel with guitar, February 2009

In 1972, he was invited to play in a cameo appearance in the film The Poseidon Adventure with the actual band on stage in the dining room when the ship capsizes. Wachtel can be seen in the final film during this sequence. Wachtel has composed the scores for many movies throughout his career, as well as playing various instruments for them. Some of these films include Joe Dirt, Up in Smoke, Nice Guys Sleep Alone, Alabama Love Story, The Longest Yard, The Benchwarmers, Grandma's Boy, The Last Request, Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star, Strange Wilderness, The House Bunny, and Paul Blart: Mall Cop. He has also composed and produced songs with Warren Zevon, Joe Walsh, Jackson Browne and other artists that appear in many other films. He is also featured prominently backing Linda Ronstadt in the 1978 film FM.

Session work[edit]

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 was being approached by various artists and producers to play on their albums, and hooked up with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, playing on their first album Buckingham Nicks (credited as 'Waddy', no surname), and touring with the band. Later, when Nicks and Buckingham joined Fleetwood Mac, he played rhythm guitar on their 1975 album Fleetwood Mac on their 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, and Rick Marotta. Both the group and the album were titled Ronin. Released on the Mercury label, the record never charted. The release party at the Golden Bear nightclub in Huntington Beach was attended by many top names from the California Sound period including Jackson Browne, Andrew Gold, John David Souther and Peter Asher himself. Wachtel and Ronin were joined onstage by several others in what was considered a barn burner of an encore for its day.

He has appeared on hundreds of albums over the years, and has been a mainstay of the Los Angeles music scene. Among the artists and bands he has worked with are The Everly Brothers, Jackson Browne, Kim Carnes, Rosanne Cash, The Church, The Cowsills, Bob Dylan, Silver Condor, Gilby Clarke, Melissa Etheridge, Bryan Ferry, Bernard Fowler, Andrew Gold, Don Henley, Carole King, Miranda Lambert, The Motels, John Mayer, Maria Muldaur, Randy Newman, Steve Perry, Iggy Pop, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Linda Ronstadt, Adam Sandler, Bob Seger, Carly Simon, The Rolling Stones, James Taylor, Tom Waits, Warren Zevon and Laura Allan.

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," for which he wrote the opening verse (which was voted by BBC Radio 2 listeners as the greatest ever in 2004).[3] He also co-wrote the Warren Zevon song "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead." He performed and co-produced the first two Zevon albums, considered his classics, and was a major contributor to the Warren Zevon sound. He is much quoted throughout the new book on Zevon's life, written by Crystal Zevon, entitled I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. Zevon complimented Wachtel on a radio interview with Redbeard in the Studio, when he said that introducing anyone to Wachtel was a wonderful thing to do, and that he'd met a lot of musical connections through him.[4] Wachtel also shares co-writing credits with Stevie Nicks on a few tracks such as "Annabel Lee", and "I Don't Care".

Tours and live performances[edit]

Wachtel with The Cowsills February 2009

Wachtel has toured with the Everly Brothers, Carole King, Warren Zevon, James Taylor, Linda Ronstadt, Adam Sandler, Stevie Nicks, and Keith Richards (in the X-Pensive Winos). His distinctive guitar sound, vocal harmonies, arrangement techniques and the ability to add exciting guitar riffs to headlining performer's gigs made him a sought-after entity in the world of live tours. He was also called upon during many of his tours to be Musical Director, using his talents and sensitive musical ear to bring all the musicians on the tours into accord with the music. Wachtel has been touring with Nicks for many years, serving as her bandleader, musical director, and lead guitarist. He has also appeared on each of her solo albums and on several television shows.


Wachtel has been credited on some early albums as "Bob Wachtel" (short for his birth-name "Robert"). Erroneous internet sources include the name "Richard Wachtel" in some album credits, but that name was never used in any album liner notes. There was never a "Richard Wachtel" who played on any of those albums.[citation needed]

Legal issues[edit]

Wachtel and his wife Annie were arrested in 1998 on suspicion of possession of child pornography after illicit images were found on their computer after they had taken it in for repair.[5][6] The case against Wachtel's wife was dismissed; Wachtel pleaded no contest and was placed on probation for three years.[7]


Wachtel prefers his vintage 1960 Gibson Les Paul and his 1956 Fender Stratocaster for sound. He said in a 1980 interview that the newest made guitar he owned, after twelve years in the music industry was a 1964 Fender Stratocaster. In September 2014 the Gibson Custom Shop chose the 1960 Les Paul Waddy Wachtel guitar for their new Collector’s Choice series.[8]

2000 to present[edit]

Wachtel assembled a band bearing his name performing regularly at the Los Angeles venue The Joint since 2000. The band includes Wachtel, Phil Jones, Rick Rosas, and Jamie Savko, with regular guests Bernard Fowler, Blondie Chaplin and Keith Allison. Special guests who have sat in with the band have included Keith Richards, Joe Walsh, Robert Plant, Eric Burdon, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Roger Daltrey, Billy Squier, Adam Sandler, P.F. Sloan and others.

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.

Wachtel appeared on the CMT Crossroads episode which aired on Sep 13, 2013 and featured Stevie Nicks and Lady Antebellum.

Wachtel appeared with Nicks on The Tonight Show (hosted by Jimmy Fallon) on April 10, 2014. He accompanied Nicks (along with the show's band Roots) on the song "Edge of Seventeen".[9]

Discography (partial)[edit]

With Karla Bonoff[edit]

Year Album Label
1977 Karla Bonoff Columbia Records
1979 Restless Nights Columbia Records
1982 Wild Heart of the Young Columbia Records

With Fleetwood Mac[edit]

Year Album Label
1975 Fleetwood Mac Warner Bros.

With Stevie Nicks[edit]

Year Album Label
1973 Buckingham Nicks Polydor Records
1981 Bella Donna Modern Records
1983 The Wild Heart Modern Records
1984 Mirror, Mirror Unreleased
1985 Rock a Little Modern Records
1991 Timespace - The Best of Stevie Nicks Modern Records
1998 Enchanted Atlantic Records
2001 Trouble in Shangri-La Reprise Records
2001 The Divine Stevie Nicks EMI Records
2007 Crystal Visions - The Very Best of Stevie Nicks Reprise Records
2009 The Soundstage Sessions Reprise Records
2011 In Your Dreams Reprise Records
2014 24 Karat Gold: Songs from the Vault Reprise Records

With Keith Richards and the X-Pensive Winos[edit]

Year Album Label
1988 Talk is Cheap Virgin Records
1991 Live at the Hollywood Palladium Virgin Records(Dec 15, 1988)
1992 Main Offender Virgin Records
2010 Vintage Vinos Mindless Records
2015 Crosseyed Heart Republic Records

With Linda Ronstadt[edit]

Year Album Label
1976 Hasten Down the Wind Asylum Records
1977 Simple Dreams Asylum Records
1978 Living in the USA Asylum Records
1980 Mad Love Asylum Records
1982 Get Closer Asylum Records
1998 We Ran Elektra Records

With James Taylor[edit]

Year Album Label
1976 In the Pocket Warner Bros. Records
1979 Flag Columbia Records
1981 Dad Loves His Work Columbia Records

With Warren Zevon[edit]

Year Album Label
1976 Warren Zevon Asylum Records
1978 Excitable Boy Asylum Records
1980 Bad Luck Streak in Dancing School Asylum Records
1982 The Envoy Asylum Records
1991 Mr. Bad Example Giant Records

Filmography (Partial)[edit]

Year Title Director(s) Notes
1978 Up in Smoke Lou Adler with Danny Kortchmar and Lee Oskar
2001 Joe Dirt Dennie Gordon N/A
2003 Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star Sam Weisman with Christophe Beck
2006 Grandma's Boy Nicholaus Goossen N/A
The Benchwarmers Dennis Dugan N/A
The Last Request John DeBellis N/A
2008 Strange Wilderness Fred Wolf N/A
The House Bunny Fred Wolf N/A
2009 Paul Blart: Mall Cop Steve Carr N/A
2011 Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star Tom Brady N/A
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


  1. ^ a b Gans,, David (March 7, 1980). "Waddy Wachtel: Confessions of a "Mafia" Guitarist". Bam Magazine (Bam, The California Music Magazine) 5 (74): 40. Retrieved July 25, 2009. 
  2. ^ 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 2009-03-28. 
  3. ^ "Werewolves of London", Johnny Black, Blender, April 2008
  4. ^ "In The Studio With Redbeard: Warren Zevon". Interview with Warren Zevon. In The Studio. 2008. Retrieved 2015-02-05. 
  5. ^ Waddy Wachtel Follows In Gary Glitter's Footsteps
  7. ^ "Guitarist Gets Probation in Child Pornography". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1998. 
  8. ^ "Collector's Choice #14 Les Paul "Waddy Wachtel"". 
  9. ^ "Stevie Nicks: Edge of Seventeen | Video | The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon". NBC. Retrieved 2014-05-24. 

External links[edit]