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Waddy Wachtel

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Waddy Wachtel
Wachtel, center, with Jackson Browne (left) and John Cowsill (right), in 2009
Wachtel, center, with Jackson Browne (left) and John Cowsill (right), in 2009
Background information
Birth nameRobert Wachtel
Born (1947-05-24) May 24, 1947 (age 73)
Jackson Heights, New York, United States
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • composer
  • record producer
  • bandleader
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1970–present
Associated acts

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, Stevie Nicks, Keith Richards (guitarist of Keith's side-band The X-pensive Winos), 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 in the New York City borough of Queens. Waddy is Jewish.[2] 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.[citation needed]

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.[4] 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, recording with The Cowsills and producing their albums.[3]


Wachtel with his Les Paul guitar, in 2009

In 1972, he made an appearance in the film The Poseidon Adventure with the actual band on stage in the dining room when the ship capsizes.

He also played in the Oscar's awarded 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.[citation needed]

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".[5] 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 and co-produced the first two Zevon albums.[6]

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.[7]

Criminal charges and legal problems[edit]

Wachtel and his wife Annie were arrested in 1998 on suspicion of possession of child pornography after illicit images were found on a computer they had in their home, also hard copies and duplicates of child porn were found in the home.[8][9][10] The case against Wachtel's wife was dismissed; Wachtel pleaded no contest and was placed on probation for three years.[11]

Musician Brett Tuggle defended Wachtel and his wife, saying "there is no way that Stevie would have him in her band if she thought he was guilty of any wrongdoing."[12]


Wachtel plays a 1960 Gibson Les Paul and 1957 Fender Stratocaster.[13] 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.[14] In September 2014 the Gibson Custom Shop chose the 1960 Les Paul Waddy Wachtel guitar for their new Collector's Choice series.[15]

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.[16] He continues to gig with his band, with some personnel changes, while retaining Fowler and Chaplin.[17] Many famous artists have performed with the band as special guests.[18]>

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.


With Andrew Gold

With Ringo Starr

With Keith Richards

With Phoebe Snow

  • Rock Away (Mirage, 1981)

With Jackson Browne

With Melissa Etheridge

With Helen Reddy

With Ronnie Hawkins

  • The Hawk (United Artists Records, 1979)

With Ivan Neville

  • Saturday Morning Music (UpTop Entertainment, 2002)
  • Scrape (Evangeline Recorded Works, 2004)

With John Prine

With Kim Carnes

With James Taylor

With Bonnie Raitt

With Linda Ronstadt

With Neil Young

With Rita Coolidge

With Carole King

With Stevie Nicks

With LeAnn Rimes

With Don Henley

With Randy Newman

With Jon Bon Jovi

With John Mayer

With Beth Hart

With Robbie Williams

With Bob Dylan

With Jackie DeShannon

With Ronnie Wood

With Amanda Marshall

With Neil Diamond

With Karla Bonoff

With Gilby Clarke

With Miranda Lambert

With Kenny Rogers

With Dolly Parton

With Wendy Waldman

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

With Warren Zevon

With Bette Midler

With Cher

With Bryan Ferry

With Sheryl Crow

  • Threads (Big Machine Records, 2019)

With Graham Nash

With Rod Stewart

With Maria Muldaur

With Rosanne Cash

With Tracy Chapman

With Leo Sayer

With Van Stephenson

  • Suspicious Heart (MCA Records, 1986)

Filmography (Partial)[edit]

Year Title Director(s) Notes
1978 Up in Smoke Lou Adler with Danny Kortchmar and Lee Oskar (member of Yesca)
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
'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. 5 (74): 40. Retrieved July 25, 2009.
  2. ^ Waddy Wachtel - Fleetwood Mac That is probably the most accurate summary of the career of Waddy Wachtel. ... the musical prodigy that is often "behind the music" as you read Waddy Wachtel in his .... Well, around the corner from us, (and this might have been in some previous .... You know a Jewish boy's dream is to be able to support his father, you know.
  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. ^ "Waddy Wachtel". The Penguin Biographies. Martin and Lisa Adelson. Archived from the original on May 29, 2012. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  5. ^ "Werewolves of London", Johnny Black, Blender, April 2008
  6. ^ "In The Studio With Redbeard: Warren Zevon". Interview with Warren Zevon. In The Studio. 2008. Retrieved February 5, 2015.
  7. ^ "Waddy Wachtel Discography". January 1, 1980. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  8. ^ "Guitarist Wachtel Busted For Child Pornography". MTV. July 10, 1998. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on June 29, 2008. Retrieved February 21, 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ Shauna Snow (July 11, 1998). "Arts and entertainment reports from The Times, national and international news services and the nation's press". Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  11. ^ "Guitarist Gets Probation in Child Pornography". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1998.
  12. ^ "Brett Tuggle Q&A Session, September 2000". Archived from the original on March 23, 2011. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  13. ^ "Rig Rundown - Waddy Wachtel". YouTube. February 14, 2017. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  14. ^ "Rig Rundown - Waddy Wachtel". February 8, 2017. Retrieved February 5, 2019.
  15. ^ "Gibson Custom: Collector's Choice™ #14 1960 Les Paul "Waddy Wachtel"". Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  16. ^ Patrick Doyle (July 24, 2013). "Waddy Wachtel Reflects on Working With Warren Zevon, Keith Richards". Rolling Stone. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  17. ^ "Waddy Wachtel Band". January 1, 1980. Retrieved March 1, 2020.
  18. ^ "Waddy Wachtel Band: Photos of Special Guests appearing with the Waddy Wachtel Band". January 1, 1980. Retrieved March 1, 2020.

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