Vitale at the Capitol Theatre, 2015
|Joseph Anthony Vitale|
April 2, 1949|
Canton, Ohio, U.S.
Joseph Anthony Vitale (born 2 April 1949) is an American singer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist. In a career spanning more than 40 years, Vitale has played with many of the top names in music during a career dating back to the 1970s.
Joseph Anthony Vitale was born on April 2, 1949, in Canton, Ohio. He started playing the drums at an early age, as his father was a barber, and would trade haircuts for drum lessons. The Vitales moved to Florida for a short time, where Joe played in a youth orchestra, but they soon moved back to Ohio.
In high school Vitale played for a while with a band called the Knights. He formed a polka band with his brother and father called the Tony Vitale Trio, with his father on accordion and his brother on bass, but the band was short-lived and didn't make any studio or live recordings. In 1965 the polka band and a rock band called the Echoes were both playing at the Magnolia Homecoming. The Echoes' drummer didn't attend the gig, so Vitale played drums for them. As a result, he joined the Echoes as their regular drummer.
Vitale started his professional music career with the Echoes, who signed with Warner and became the Chylds (1964-68). He gained valuable experience with the band and sang vocals on their single "I Want More (Lovin')." He eventually enrolled at Kent State University and was attending during the May 4, 1970 shootings. His first national break came when Ted Nugent hired him to play drums in the Amboy Dukes in 1971. That fall Vitale was invited by his former Kent State classmate Joe Walsh to join Barnstorm, a new band being formed by Walsh in Colorado. The band recorded two albums together and Vitale and Walsh began a longtime partnership although Barnstorm broke up in 1974.
After the breakup, Vitale was the temporary original drummer for the Michael Stanley Band (before Tommy Dobeck), and he recorded his first solo album 1974's Roller Coaster Weekend, produced by Ron & Howard Albert, with guitar solos contributed by Walsh, Rick Derringer and Phil Keaggy. He then joined the Stills-Young Band for the Long May You Run sessions. Later, Vitale would be one of the musicians that Crosby, Stills & Nash record and tour with beginning with the CSN album and continuing until 2009. He has also co-produced and contributed songs to Crosby, Stills & Nash as well as to solo efforts by Stephen Stills and Graham Nash.
Meanwhile, Vitale's longtime partner Walsh became part of the Eagles and Vitale became part of the Eagles' road band on drums, keyboards, and backing vocals, appearing on 1980's Eagles Live. For Vitale's second solo album, Plantation Harbor, produced by Bill Szymczyk and also recorded in 1981, Don Felder also appeared along with Walsh on guitars and Stephen Stills co-wrote one of the songs. The Walsh/Vitale song "Pretty Maids All in a Row" appears on the Eagles' album Hotel California. He continued to appear on Walsh solo albums in the early 1990s.
In 2008 Vitale released Speaking in Drums. The album is a collection of eleven songs written and performed by Joe, his wife Susie and his son Joe Jr. among other guests. In 2008 he also released Backstage Pass, an autobiography written by his wife.
In 2012, Joe Vitale appeared on the album The Healing Song with self help singer/songwriter Joseph Vitale (author) (same name, different artist). Included on the recording are fellow musicians Glenn Fukunaga on bass (Robert Plant), Daniel Barrett on guitar (Porterdavis) and Grammy-winning artist David Darling performing on cello.
Vitale married his wife Susie in 1974. She is a graduate of Kent State University and conducted post graduate studies at Malone University and the University of Akron. She has served as president of the Community Television Consortium in Canton and as host of the TV program What's Happening in Stark County. They have a son, Joe Vitale, Jr.