Known for his 70s music era Top Ten hit “Magnet and Steel”, Walter Egan is a New York-born classic rock singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He played with several bands including a folk-rock band Sageworth and Drums in Washington D.C. where several artists of his leagues started to bolster their careers: Emmylou Harris, Nils Lofgren and Roy Buchanan. He wrote “Hearts On Fire” which was then recorded by Harris together with Gram Parsons. He then moved to Los Angeles, playing as a back-up musician for the likes of Jackson Brown and David Lindley. He was spotted by the big brass from Columbia Records who eventually had him signed. Egan’s debut album Fundamental Roll was released in 1977, and in the following year he released his second album Not Shy where one of its tracks “Magnet and Steel” hit high on the Billboard charts in 1978; it is now an oldies music classic. He had also worked with a few other groups such as Spirit (in its reformed lineup) whom he toured as one of the members. He is also credited as a co-writer of rapper Eminem’s 2009 hit single “We Made You.” Egan’s most recently-released album is “Raw Elegant” in 2011.
Early career as part of the Malibooz and Sageworth and Drums
American singer, songwriter and guitarist Walter Lindsay Egan was born on July 12, 1948 in New York City, New York (but other sources say that he was born in Jamaica, New York).
Egan began his music career when he first played in a surf rock band called the Mailbooz. The band gained a devoted cult following and even got to participate at New York World’s Fair in 1964.
From his home state, Egan moved to Washington, D.C. Together with his Malibooz guitarist John Zambetti, Egan launched another band Sageworth and Drums, which played an altogether different kind of genre which was rock-folk. The band actively took part in the vibrant Washington music scene that also produced other stars such as Emmylou Harris, Roy Buchanan, Roberta Flack, and many others.
After a move in Boston, Massachusetts, the group disbanded following a recording contract with Warner Brothers fell through. Egan then followed Emmylou Harris to Los Angeles, California. Harris got to record one of Egan’s compositions, “Hearts on Fire,” along with Gram Parsons. The track appeared on Parson’s sophomore album Grievous Angel, which was released four months after his untimely death in 1973.
Egan would spend much of his career backing other artists such as Jackson Browne and David Lindley before being discovered by executives at Columbia Records, with whom Egan eventually got to sign a contract.
Egan’s debut album Fundamental Roll came out in 1977; its single, the self-penned “Only the Lucky” only became a minor hit on the Hot 100, at #82. Fundamental Roll was co-produced by Fleetwood Mac members Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks.
Biggest hit ever with “Magnet and Steel”
His sophomore LP Not Shy was released in 1978; it was co-produced by Buckingham and Richard Dashut. This time, it featured his first and only Top 10 pop hit “Magnet and Steel.” The hit single reached #8 on the Billboard Hot 100, and #18 on the adult contemporary singles chart.
The following singles didn’t fare as well as “Magnet and Steel.” Not Shy’s second single “Hot Summer Nights” only managed a #55 spot on the pop charts, while “Fool Moon” (from his 1983 LP Wild Exhibitions) only reached #46.
“Hot Summer Nights” was later covered by the California-based British rock band Night. Their version went to #18 on the pop charts in 1979.
Years after sole golden hit “Magnet and Steel,” Egan mostly kept a low profile. He later became a member of the latter-day reincarnation of the band Spirit and toured with them. After a long hiatus, he reappeared in the early 1990s by reuniting with his old band Malibooz in releasing their Christmas album Malibooz Rule: A Malibu Kind of Christmas. He then released the following solo albums:Walternative (1999), Apocalypso Now (2002), The Meaning of Live (2004) and Raw Elegant (2011)