Waddy Wachtel

Waddy Wachtel

Wachtel, center, with Jackson Browne (left) and John Cowsill (right), in 2009
Background information
Birth name Robert Wachtel
Born (1947-05-24) May 24, 1947
New York City, New York, United States
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • composer
  • record producer
  • bandleader
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active 1970–present
Associated acts
Website waddywachtelinfo.com
Notable instruments

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, James Taylor, Iggy Pop, Warren Zevon, Bryan Ferry, Michael Sweet, and Jackson Browne, both in the studio and live.[1]

Early years

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. At that age, he says, he began writing songs.[2]

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 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 the band settled into a regular bar band routine, playing in Newport, Rhode Island, where Wachtel took lessons from Sal Salvador. 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 produce their albums.[2]


Wachtel with guitar, in 2009

In 1972, he had a cameo 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.

Session and touring work

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, and Rick Marotta. Both the group and the album were titled Ronin. Released on the Mercury label, the record never charted.

He has appeared on hundreds of albums over the years. Other artists and bands he has worked with include The Everly Brothers, Jackson Browne, Karla Bonoff, Kim Carnes, Rosanne Cash, The Church, 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, Adam Sandler, Bob Seger, Carly Simon, The Rolling Stones, James Taylor, and Tom Waits.

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".[3] 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 and co-produced the first two Zevon albums.[4]

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 (short for his real name Robert), but some online sources have incorrectly credited him as Richard Wachtel on the albums that he was credited as having played guitar on them - in fact, there was never a Richard Wachtel who played on any of those albums and the thing may have originated when someone substituted Richard for Robert, thus causing the myth to snowball.[5]

Legal issues

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 kiddie porn were found in the home.[6][7][8] The case against Wachtel's wife was dismissed; Wachtel pleaded no contest and was placed on probation for three years.[9]

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."[10]


Wachtel plays a 1960 Gibson Les Paul and 1956 Fender Stratocaster. He said in a 1980 interview that the newest made guitar he owned 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.[11]

2000 to present

Wachtel has performed regularly at the Los Angeles venue The Joint since 2000. The band includes, Phil Jones, Rick Rosas, and Jamie Savko, with regular guests Bernard Fowler, Blondie Chaplin and Keith Allison.

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.

Discography (partial)

With Karla Bonoff

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

With Joe Walsh

Year Album Label
1983 You Bought It – You Name It Warner Bros. Records
1985 The Confessor Warner Bros. Records
1991 Ordinary Average Guy Epic Records

With Fleetwood Mac

Year Album Label
1975 Fleetwood Mac Warner Bros.

With Stevie Nicks

Year Album Label
1973 Buckingham Nicks Polydor Records
1981 Bella Donna Modern Records
1983 The Wild Heart Modern Records
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

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

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

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

With Warren Zevon

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)

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. 1 2 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. 1 2 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. http://waddywachtelinfo.com/DiscographyCreditsGigsSongs.html
  6. http://www.mtv.com/news/400485/guitarist-wachtel-busted-for-child-pornography/
  7. Waddy Wachtel Follows In Gary Glitter's Footsteps
  9. "Guitarist Gets Probation in Child Pornography". Los Angeles Times. October 16, 1998.
  10. http://www.fleetwoodmac.net/penguin/qa/bretttuggle_qa1.htm
  11. "Collector's Choice #14 Les Paul "Waddy Wachtel"".

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