Eagles

  • Rock band formed in 1971 from Los Angeles California. The classic lineup for the group was Glenn Frey (vocals, lead and rhythm guitars, keyboards), Don Henley (vocals, drums), Joe Walsh (lead and rhythm guitars, vocals), Don Felder (guitars, steel guitar, banjo, vocals), and Timothy B. Schmit (bass guitar, vocals). All members contributed to songwriting, with Frey and Henley the primary writers.
  • Frey and Henley, along with guitarist Bernie Leadon and bassist Randy Meisner, were musicians with various bands based in Los Angeles in the early 70s. In 1971, they were recruited by Linda Ronstadt’s manager to be Ronstadt’s backing musicians during her concert tour that year. While on tour, Frey and Henley decided to form a band, and Leadon and Meisner were invited to join. In September, they were signed to a record label and the label sent them to Aspen Colorado to develop their style. Their first performance was at a club in Aspen – they called themselves Teen King and the Emergencies.
  • During an outing in the Mojave Desert, while enjoying tequila and peyote, the group decided on a name change, calling themselves Eagles (without a “the”).
  • The band adopted a country rock sound that featured the harmonies of all of the members. Their debut album was released in 1972 – the self titled Eagles. It was a successful debut, with the singles Take It Easy, Witchy Woman and Peaceful Easy Feeling all charting at #22 or higher on the Hot 100. The album would be certified platinum – their only studio album to NOT be multi-platinum.
  • Their follow-up album, Desperado, initially was less successful. It peaked at #41 on the album chart, but the future success of the band led to more sales of their older albums, and eventually it was certified double platinum. It included another signature song for the group, Tequila Sunrise, though as a single, it only reached #64 on the Hot 100 chart.
  • For their third album, Frey and Henley wanted to move toward a harder rock and roll sound. On the Border was released in 1974, and it included a fifth musician, Don Felder, who was invited to join the band after contributing slide guitar on one of the songs from the album. On the Border reached #17 on the album chart, and it included their first #1 hit, Best of My Love. The following year, the group released their One of These Nights album. By now, they were one of the most successful bands in the 70s. The album was certified 4x platinum, topping the album chart. The title track peaked at #1 on the Hot 100, while Lyin’ Eyes reached #2 and Take It To the Limit reached #4. They received their first Grammy award for Lyin’ Eyes – they would win five more Grammy awards after that.
  • Leadon left the group in late 1975, disillusioned that they were abandoning their early country rock sound. He was replaced by Joe Walsh.
  • Now well into their career, it was time for a Greatest Hits compilation album. In early 1976, they released Their Greatest Hits (1971 – 1975). This album became the best selling album of all time in the U.S. – it was certified platinum a month after its release, and the sales kept coming. By 1990, it was diamond certified, with 12 million copies sold in the U.S. The sales kept coming – by 1995, it was 22x platinum. In 2018, it was certified 38x platinum. Michael Jackson’s Thriller album overtook Their Greatest Hits as the worldwide best selling album of time after Jackson’s death in 2009, but in the U.S., Thriller is second to the Eagles with a 34x platinum certification.
  • Late in 1976, the Eagles released their fifth studio album. Hotel California became one of the best selling albums of all time – it was certified 26x platinum in 2018. The title track as well as New Kid In Town both topped the Hot 100, and Life In the Fast Lane reached #11. The album and song Hotel California makes many GOAT lists, and the song’s guitar solo was voted the best guitar solo of all time by the readers of Guitarist magazine in 1998.
  • After the group’s tour in 1977, Meisner left the group. He was dealing with stomach ulcers, and he was struggling to hit the high notes on his signature song Take It To the Limit. He refused to sing the song as an encore after a show, and the rest of the band objected, freezing him out of the band. He left in early September, and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit – Schmit also replaced Meisner as a member of the band Poco in 1969 when Meisner quit Poco. Schmit has been hitting the high notes for the Eagles ever since.
  • The group worked on their next album for over two years. The Long Run was released in 1979, and it was certified 7x platinum. It included top ten hits The Long Run, I Can’t Tell You Why and Heartache Tonight, their final #1 song on the Hot 100. Despite the band’s success, the members (particularly Frey) became intolerant of one another, and after a 1980 tour full of fights, the band went on hiatus. They were committed to release a live album late that year, and it was completed with Frey working in Los Angeles while the other members worked in Miami. Eagles Live would sell over 7 million copies in the U.S. While on hiatus, each of the members of the group had successful solo careers.
  • In 1994, the Eagles reunited. Frey claimed that they never broke up – rather, they took a 14-year vacation. They went on tour, and a live album – Hell Freezes Over – was released, named because Henley many times had stated that the band would get back together “when Hell freezes over.” The album was a huge success, topping the album chart, certified 9x platinum.
  • Felder remained with the reunited group until 2001, when he was fired from the group. After suing the group, Felder settled out of court in 2007.
  • Their final studio album, Long Road Out of Eden, was released in 2007. The double album was surprisingly successful, selling over 3.5 million copies in the U.S., winning two Grammy awards, including Best Country Performance for How Long. 
  • In 2016, Frey died due to rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. By 2017, the group was touring again, replacing Frey with his son Deacon, and with Vince Gill.
  • Any discussions of 70s classic rock has to include (and maybe begin with) the Eagles. They were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 – all seven of the members were included in the induction. They were chosen for the Kennedy Center Honors award in 2015, but the ceremony was delayed for a year, due to Frey’s ill health. Frey died a month after the 2015 ceremony. The 2016 ceremony honored Frey, Henley, Walsh and Schmit.
  • The members of the group are now in their 70s – and they still sound awesome. Their concerts are two hours of classic hits. My favorite – Lyin’ Eyes. Here’s a clip from one of their many farewell tours – this one from Melbourne Australia. Love that harmony! Enjoy!

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