Biography - Walter Egan
By Lesley A. Thode
Additional information was generously provided by Tammy and Walter Egan.
Walter Egan, a singer-songwriter from New York, emerged to his greatest commercial heights in the music business in 1977 with his Not Shy album, produced and arranged by himself, Richard Dashut and Lindsey Buckingham, who also became close friends. Egan began his musical career with his friend John Zambetti in The Malibooz, a band dedicated to "surf music."
The Malibooz set their sights on creating a niche for themselves in that genre somewhere between the Ventures and the Beach Boys. They specialized in falsetto harmonies, "gnarly Fender guitar" music and wrote songs of the Pacific surf and sun before either Egan or Zambetti had ever set foot outside of New York. While cultivating a loyal following in their local area, their broad appeal reached a pinnacle at this early phase in their career when they were afforded the opportunity to perform at the 1964 New York World's Fair.
Bandmate Chris Murray journeyed to Washington, DC to attend Georgetown University and found himself in the same class as proficient sax-player (at the time) and future president, Bill Clinton. Egan and Zambetti soon followed Murray to Washington and formed a legendary long-lived folk-rock band called Sageworth & Drums, which also featured Annie McLoone on vocals, while also continuing to work occasionally with Murray as The Malibooz. Over the next five years, they became one of the top bands in a Washington, DC scene that featured the likes of Emmylou Harris, Roy Buchanan, Nils Lofgren, Bill & Taffy Danoff, Roberta Flack and many others.
They moved in 1971 to Boston, where they became aligned with the James Montgomery Band and nearly signed with Mary Martin at Warner Brothers in 1973. When the signing fell through, the band broke up and Egan followed Emmylou Harris (who had recorded his song "Hearts on Fire" with Gram Parsons on the Grievous Angel album) to Los Angeles. He worked with Chris Darrow, David Lindley, and Jackson Browne, was offered Andrew Gold's spot in Linda Ronstadt's band, and eventually he was discovered at a Hoot Night at the Troubadour in 1976. He did some recording work with Don Henley and Don Felder of The Eagles and soon launched a solo career, he recorded 4 albums for Columbia and 1 for Backstreet/MCA.
Introduced to Lindsey Buckingham at a party, Egan, a fan and admirer of Buckingham's guitar work on Fleetwood Mac (1975), expressed interest in having Buckingham produce and work on his debut solo album. Buckingham recalled in 1982, "His first album was called Fundamental Roll and I was involved with that on the fringe. I didn't really have time to go in as full producer, but I did quite a bit of work on that and he and I developed a very friendly and close relationship." Stevie Nicks was also involved, became a friend, and contributed backing vocals to Fundamental Roll. Egan did ultimately credit Buckingham and Nicks as co-producers of his first solo album, along with Egan, himself, and Duane Scott.
Buckingham continues, "We have almost identical tastes . . . and he has some of the same experiences as I do . . . . So when the time was finally right, Richard and I went in and did the Not Shy album with him." 1977's Not Shy took Egan to the commercial peak of his recording career and spawned the top ten single, "Magnet and Steel" which prominently features the voice of Stevie Nicks. Stevie contributed to several other songs on the album, Mick Fleetwood made a guest appearance on drums, and Lindsey contributed vocals, played guitar, co-produced, arranged and engineered that album. Buckingham also made appearances on three subsequent Egan solo albums, Hi-Fi (1979), The Last Stroll (1980), and Wild Exhibitions (1983) , which also featured Christine McVie, David Lindley and Nicky Hopkins. . It was during Lindsey's work on Not Shy that John Stewart, encouraged by an enthusiastic talk about Buckingham's abilities with Egan, became convinced to seek out Lindsey to work on his eventual hit album, Bombs Away Dream Babies" (1979).
In 1981 Egan reunited with Zambetti and they reformed The Malibooz in Los Angeles. Their 1981 album Malibooz Rule featured work by Buckingham once again, as well as a contribution from "Surf Music" luminary, Dean Torrance of Jan and Dean. Buckingham and Egan continue to maintain a friendship and remain intertwined in each other's work. The woodcut print artwork on Buckingham's 1992 Out of the Cradle CD sleeve is credited to Walter Egan. Matthew Sweet's 1998 cover version of Egan's "Magnet & Steel" for the Sabrina The Teenage Witch soundtrack, featured prominent vocal and guitar work by Buckingham. "Magnet & Steel," also enjoyed a revival when it was included on 1997's Boogie Nights movie soundtrack and in "Overnight Delivery" (New Line Cinema).
Walter has also worked as a sculptor and multimedia artist, exhibiting in Soho in New York City in 1996. Egan still keeps very busy with music. He continues to record as part of The Malibooz as he and Zambetti celebrate more than thirty years in a musical partnership. They were voted Best Surf Vocal Group in 1997 by the readers of Surf Music USA magazine. They have contributed several songs to upcoming movie soundtracks and another Malibooz album is expected in the summer of 1999.
In addition to playing bass in a band called Spirit, and contributing lead guitar work and vocals for Randy and the Rainbows, Walter has also recently recorded as part of a group formed by he and Fredro Perry, called the Brooklyn Cowboys. their new album, "Doin' Time On Planet Earth," out in the summer of 1999, represents the duo's efforts to unite the flavors of traditional country rock with traditional rock and roll. Egan handles lead vocals and guitars, while Perry handles percussion. other members of the ensemble include Buddy Cage, Joy Lynn White, Supe Granda, Michael Webb, and Brian Waldschlager.
Walter Egan also continues to work as a solo artist out of his home studio in Nashville. Walter moved to Nashville in 1997, where he lives with wife Tammy, and two children, Walter, Jr., and Daphne. He has recently released a collection of fifteen new songs on the self-produced "Walternative." the songs represent the broad range of Egan's pop, rock, rockabilly, folk, and surf styles, and features a collaboration with country Diva Joy Lynn White.