Don Henley – circa 1975
“’Relax,’ said the nightman, / ’We are programmed to receive / You can check out any time you like / But you can never leave.’” – ‘Hotel California’ (Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey)
Glenn Frey is drowning his sorrows. It is 1971 and the aspiring musician is sitting in ‘The Troubadour,’ a nightclub in West Hollywood, California. Frey came to California in search of fame and fortune but, so far, that hasn’t worked out so well. He was in a duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle, but they parted ways in 1970 (the previous year). Glenn Frey has been considering a solo career, but a fellow named David Geffen (the manager of folk rockers Crosby, Stills & Nash) has urged him to form a group instead. Also in ‘The Troubadour’ on this fateful night in spring 1971 is Don Henley. Frey first met Henley in 1970. Henley has been in a band called Shiloh but they broke up earlier in 1971. Both Frey and Henley have been approached by country rock singer Linda Ronstadt to join her backing band. It’s a good gig and one both musicians are pleased to accept. Yet, as they commiserate at the bar, Frey and Henley admit they both want something more. Separately, they haven’t been very successful. Ah, but what if they join forces?
Glenn Lewis Frey (6 November 1948-18 January 2016) is born at Detroit General Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.A. His surname is pronounced ‘fry’. Glenn is the son of Edward Frey and Nellie Frey. His parents both work in Detroit’s automobile manufacturing industry. Glenn grows up in Royal Oak, Michigan. At his mother’s prompting, Glenn gets some piano lessons as a 5 year old. These lessons continue until he is 12. Glenn switches to guitar in 1964 after seeing 1960s British rock stars The Beatles perform in Detroit.
Glen Frey attends Dondero High School. One of his earliest bands is The Subterraneans. Formed in 1965, the other members are all fellow high school students. The line-up is: Glenn Frey (vocals, guitar), Doug Gunsch (guitar), Bill Barnes (guitar), Jeff Hodge (bass) and Doug Edwards (drums). Lenny Mintz later takes over on drums. Glenn Frey graduates from Dondero High School in 1966 and The Subterraneans are consigned to history.
Glenn Frey moves on to Oakland Community College. He claims to have got high in parking lots, looked at girls, went to folk club meetings and wasted his parents’ money. During this time (late 1966) Glenn Frey joins The Four Of Us, a local band led by Gary Burrows.
In 1967 Glenn Frey forms a band called The Mushrooms. This group consists of: Glenn Frey (vocals, guitar), Doug Gunsch (guitar), Bill Barnes (guitar), Jeff Burrows (bass) [Jeff is the brother of Gary Burrows from The Four Of Us] and Lenny Mintz (drums). “It was 1967 and the hippie thing was happening. I got into experimenting with drugs while I was in college in Michigan,” recalls Frey.
It is in 1967 that Glenn Frey first meets Bob Seger. In the 1970s, Bob Seger becomes a noteworthy rock star, but at this time Seger is just starting his career. Frey is introduced to Seger by the latter’s manager, Eddie ‘Punch’ Andrews. Bob Seger writes and produces a single called ‘Such A Lovely Child’ for The Mushrooms. It is released by Hideout Records. Glenn Frey is asked to join Bob Seger’s band but Glenn’s mother, Nelly, puts a stop to that after catching her son smoking cannabis with Seger.
Later in 1967 Glenn Frey puts together a new band, The Heavy Metal Kids. This outfit consists of: Glenn Frey (vocals, guitar), Paul Kelcourse (lead guitar), Jeff Burrows (piano), Jeff Alborell (bass) and Lance Dickerson (drums).
In 1967 Glenn Frey starts a romantic relationship with Joan Sliwin. She is a member of a Detroit all-girl group called The Mama Cats.
In 1968 Glenn Frey plays acoustic guitar on Bob Seger’s ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man’ (US no. 17) which becomes a hit single in 1969.
The Mama Cats – including Glenn Frey’s girlfriend Joan Sliwin – relocate to California in 1968. The girls change the name of their band to Honey Ltd (1968-1970). Glenn goes to Los Angeles, ‘hoping to reconnect with his girlfriend.’ Joan Sliwin’s sister, Alexandra, is also a member of Honey Ltd. Alexandra Sliwin has found herself a boyfriend, an aspiring musician named J.D. (John David) Souther (born on 2 November 1945). Through this connection, Glenn Frey meets J.D. Souther. Glenn returns to Detroit three weeks later – only to pack up his bags and resettle full-time in Los Angeles. “I read the ‘Life’ magazine articles about free love and free dope in California. At age 20, I drove to Los Angeles,” says Frey.
Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther form a duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle. They play country rock and folk music. The duo obtains a recording contract with Amos Records. They release only one album, ‘Longbranch Pennywhistle’ (1969).
For a time Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther share an apartment with another aspiring singer-songwriter, Jackson Browne. In the 1970s Browne will become part of the West Coast rock community and a star in his own right but, at this point, that is still in the future.
Longbranch Pennywhistle disbands in 1970. Honey Ltd also disbands in 1970. The romantic relationship between Glenn Frey and Joan Sliwin comes to an end in 1970 as well. Part of the reason Honey Ltd winds up is that Alexandra Sliwin married J.D. Souther in March 1969 and she wants to quit live performance. Their marriage will end in divorce in 1972.
Glenn Frey meets Don Henley in 1970. Frey considers a solo career but is counselled by David Geffen (manager of Crosby, Stills And Nash) to form a group instead. In the meantime, Frey joins the backing group for country rock singer Linda Ronstadt in 1971. Don Henley is also part of this backing band.
Donald Hugh Henley is born on 22 July 1947 in Gilmer, Texas. He is the son of C.J. (Con Junnell) Henley and Hughlene Henley (nee McWhorter). His ancestry is a mixture of Irish, Scottish and English. C.J. Henley is a World War Two veteran who owns an auto parts store. Don’s father is also an avid gardener. Hughlene Henley is a school teacher.
Don Henley is raised in Linden, a ‘small northeast Texas town.’ Linden is also described as ‘a small, dusty town near the Arkansas and Louisiana border with a population of only two thousand, four hundred’ people.
“I had piano lessons when I was a kid,” recalls Don Henley. “My father loved music; my mother loved music. They always had records on in the house…I think my first instrument was a ukulele that they gave me. I used to know how to play that pretty well.”
At Linden-Kildare High School, Don Henley plays football but gives up on that sport ‘due to his relatively small build.’ Don joins his high school band instead. At first he plays trombone, but then switches to percussion. “The drums sort of came naturally to me,” Don says. It is the drums that become the instrument with which Henley is most associated. Don Henley buys his first drum kit as a 15 year old with the help of his mother; the two of them arrange the purchase without the knowledge of Don’s father. As a drummer, Don Henley lists his main influences as Ringo Starr (The Beatles), Ginger Baker (Cream) and Levon Helm (The Band).
While at high school, Don Henley is asked to join a Dixieland band. The group belongs to Elmer Bowden, the father of Don’s childhood friend Richard Bowden. This Dixieland band also includes keyboardist Jerry Surratt. Richard Bowden (guitar), Jerry Surratt and Don Henley then form a band of their own called The Four Speeds while they are all still at high school. Don Henley leaves high school in 1965. He and Richard Bowden go on to Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. The pair moves on to North Texas State University in Denton, Texas, in 1967. The boys are still playing in bands but there are many name changes and personnel shifts. Richard’s cousin, Mike Bowden (bass), and Jim Ed Norman (keyboards, guitar) come onto the scene and the group adopts the name Felicity. Working with a local record producer, Felicity record a single called ‘Hurtin’’ (written by Don Henley). In 1969 Don Henley leaves North Texas State University to spend more time with his father who is struggling with heart disease.
In 1970 Don Henley’s group changes its name to Shiloh. At this time, Shiloh comes to the attention of country music singer Kenny Rogers. He is fronting an act called First Edition, but will enjoy greater success later in the 1970s as a solo act. The members of Shiloh write some songs for Rogers and he produces their debut single, ‘Jennifer (O’ My Lady)’. Keyboardist Jerry Surratt dies in a dirt bike accident just before the single is released. Kenny Rogers brings Shiloh to Los Angeles in June 1970 and arranges for them to sign a recording contract with Amos Records (the same outfit to which Glenn Frey’s Longbranch Pennywhistle is signed). They record one album, ‘Shiloh’ (1970), which is produced by Kenny Rogers. The group consists of: Don Henley (vocals, drums), Richard Bowden (vocals, guitar), Jim Ed Norman (keyboards, guitar), Al Perkins (pedal steel guitar) and Mike Bowden (bass). Recordings of the late Jerry Surratt playing keyboards are used on some parts of this disc too. Henley handles lead vocals on all but two tracks; Richard Bowden sings the balance. Shiloh disbands in 1971 ‘over the band’s leadership and creative differences between Henley and Bowden.’
Country rock singer Linda Ronstadt caught one of Shiloh’s gigs at ‘The Troubadour’ nightclub in West Hollywood. She was quite impressed with the playing of drummer Don Henley. “The first time I saw Linda Ronstadt, she was standing here [at ‘The Troubadour’], scratching her @$$,” Don Henley later reminisces. John Boylan, Ronstadt’s producer (and – at the time – also her boyfriend), hires both Don Henley and the drummer’s acquaintance Glenn Frey for Ronstadt’s backing band in 1971. The next musician recruited for the project is Randy Meisner.
Randy Herman Meisner is born on 8 March 1946 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. His surname is pronounced MIZE-ner. Randy is the son of Herman Meisner and Emilie Meisner (nee Haun). Both sets of Randy’s grandparents were born in Russia, but came from German ancestry. Herman and Emilie Meisner are sharecropping farmers. They grow beans, alfalfa, corn and sugar beets. Randy is their second child. He has an older sister, Carol (who will pass away in 2003).
Music is also part of Randy Meisner’s family background. His mother, Emilie, sings around the house. Randy’s maternal grandfather, George Haun, was a violin teacher. After seeing 1950s King of Rock ‘n’ Roll Elvis Presley performing on television’s ‘Ed Sullivan Show’, 10 year old Randy Meisner starts playing guitar. Randy takes some lessons and becomes proficient enough to start playing in local bands. One of Randy’s teachers suggests that his young pupil consider taking up bass guitar. Randy heeds this advice. “I loved rhythm and blues [music] and the bass players on the Motown [records] stuff were great. They really inspired me. I can’t read music. Once I learn a part, it’s there. My bass playing came really naturally,” recalls Meisner.
From 1961 to 1965 Randy Meisner is bassist and vocalist for a group called The Dynamics. As The Drivin’ Dynamics, they release an EP in late 1962.
In 1963 Randy Meisner marries Jennifer Lee Barton, his high school girlfriend. Randy and Jennifer have a son, Dana Scott Meisner (born in November 1963), and then go on to have twins, Heather and Eric (both born in May 1970).
In 1966 Randy Meisner (vocals, bass), Allen Kemp (guitar) and Pat Shanahan (drums) become a band called The Soul Survivors. They relocate from Nebraska to California and rename the group The Poor. This outfit releases several singles in 1966-1967 including ‘She’s Got The Name, She’s Got The Changes’ in 1967.
In May 1968 Randy Meisner joins the country rock band Poco. The founding line-up of this band is: Richie Furay (vocals, guitar), Jim Messina (guitar, vocals), Rusty Young (pedal steel guitar), Randy Meisner (bass, vocals) and George Grantham (drums). Poco’s first album is ‘Pickin’ Up The Pieces’ (1969). Randy Meisner leaves Poco shortly after the release of their debut album because he is angry about being left out of participating in the final mix of the disc’s sound.
In April 1969 Randy Meisner joins Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band. As a teenager in the 1950s, Ricky Nelson was a pop star and television idol, but the more mature Rick Nelson is now exploring country rock. Randy Meisner appears on two albums by Rick Nelson And The Stone Canyon Band: ‘In Concert At The Troubadour, 1969’ (1970) and ‘Rudy The Fifth’ (1971). Meisner leaves before the release of the latter album.
Randy Meisner returns to his native Nebraska in spring 1970. He works at a local John Deere tractor dealership. In the evenings, he plays in a band called Gold Rush. Meisner returns to Los Angeles later in 1970. He works as a session musician for a time and then, in mid-1971, is recruited for Linda Ronstadt’s backing band. His new colleagues Glenn Frey and Don Henley persuade Randy Meisner to become part of the new group they are putting together.
The final member of what will become The Eagles is Bernie Leadon.
Bernard Mathew Leadon III is born on 19 July 1947 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His surname is pronounced Led-un, not Leed-in. Bernie is the son of Dr Bernard Leadon, Jr. and Ann Teresa Leadon (nee Sweetser). Dr Leadon is an aerospace engineer and nuclear physicist. His career path keeps his family moving around the U.S. The Leadons are Roman Catholics and Bernie is just one of their ten children. Known siblings of Bernie Leadon are Monica, Mark and Tom (born in 1952 in Rosemount, Minnesota).
Bernie Leadon takes an interest in folk music and bluegrass music ‘at an early age.’ He learns to play banjo, mandolin and acoustic guitar.
In 1963, when Bernie Leadon is a young teen in San Diego, he is invited to join a local bluegrass outfit called The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers. This invitation follows an encounter with two musicians from that group, Ed Douglas and Larry Murray. Among the members of The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers is mandolin player Chris Hillman (1961-1963) (who goes on to greater fame as bassist (1964-1968) for folk rock band The Byrds). Bernie Leadon is brought into the act to replace banjo player Kenny Wertz who left to join the air force in 1963. Wertz will later be part of the 1972 line-up of country rock band The Flying Burrito Brothers. Bernie Leadon has only a short stint with The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers.
Late in 1963 Bernie Leadon – along with his parents and siblings – relocates to Gainesville, Florida. Bernie’s father starts working as a professor at the University of Florida. Bernie Leadon attends Gainesville High School. While there, Bernie makes friends with a fellow student, Don Felder (who will become a future member of The Eagles). Don Felder’s band, The Continentals, has just lost guitarist Stephen Stills (who goes on to join Buffalo Springfield (1966-1968) and then Crosby, Stills And Nash (from 1968)). Bernie Leadon is drafted to replace Stills in The Continentals – though the band changes its name to The Maundy Quintet. Playing gigs around Gainesville, The Maundy Quintet sometimes shares the bill with The Epics (circa 1964). The leader of The Epics is Tom Petty – who becomes a rock star in the 1970s with Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers. The Epics also includes Bernie Leadon’s younger brother, Tom Leadon. From 1971 to 1973, Tom Leadon will also be a member of Tom Petty’s subsequent band, Mudcrutch. The Maundy Quintet release a single in 1967 titled ‘2’s Better Than 3’.
In 1967, the now 20 year old Bernie Leadon returns to California. Larry Murray (Leadon’s old comrade from The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers) has invited Bernie to return and join his psychedelic country rock band Hearts & Flowers. Larry Murray (vocals, guitar), Dave Dawson (vocals, guitar, autoharp) and Rick Cunha (vocals, guitar) had recorded one album, ‘Now Is The Time’ (1967). However, Rick Cunha has now left the group and Bernie Leadon is brought in as his replacement. With Leadon, Hearts & Flowers record their second album, ‘Of Horses, Kids And Forgotten Women’ (1968), before disbanding in 1968.
In 1968-1969 Bernie Leadon plays in the backing band for Dillard & Clark. This is the duo of Doug Dillard (banjo player from The Dillards) and Gene Clark (former vocalist for The Byrds in 1964-1966). Bernie Leadon appears on the duo’s albums ‘The Fantastic Expedition Of Dillard & Clark’ (1968) and ‘Through The Morning, Through The Night’ (1969).
Bernie Leadon moves on to the second configuration of country rock band The Flying Burrito Brothers. The September 1969 to April 1970 line-up of this act is: Gram Parsons (vocals, guitar), Bernie Leadon (guitar, vocals), Sneaky Pete Kleinow (pedal steel guitar), Chris Hillman (bass, vocals) and Michael Clarke (drums). Both Hillman and Clarke are former members of The Byrds. (Drummer Michael Clarke should not be confused with fellow ex-Byrd vocalist Gene Clark.) Not long after Bernie Leadon joins them, on 6 December 1969 The Flying Burrito Brothers are one of the supporting acts at The Rolling Stones’ free concert at Altamont Speedway in Livermore, California. The British band’s largesse turns into a nightmare when an audience member is stabbed to death by the Hells Angels, the motorcycle gang hired as ‘security’ for the event. Bernie Leadon appears on the second album by The Flying Burrito Brothers, ‘Burrito Deluxe’ (1970). The group’s founder and spearhead, Gram Parsons, then leaves the group. He is replaced by Rick Roberts (vocals, guitar) for the third version of The Flying Burrito Brothers (April 1970-April 1971). This edition of the band records ‘The Flying Burrito Brothers’ (1971). This will be Leadon’s last album with The Flying Burrito Brothers, though he sticks around for their next line-up (April 1971-September 1971) when Al Perkins replaces Sneaky Pete Kleinow on pedal steel guitar.
Bernie Leadon is the ‘last original member to join’ the band that will become The Eagles. “Glenn [Frey] and Don [Henley] had already decided to work together, and had [Randy] Meisner pretty well into it. I heard about it through a friend,” says Bernie Leadon, “and I called John Boylan, who managed and produced [Linda] Ronstadt at the time. He was helping Don and Glenn.” Bernie Leadon is thought to ‘help shape [the group’s] early country rock sound.’
It is proposed that the band that will become The Eagles should have a fifth member, J.D. Souther. It may be recalled that Souther was the other half of the duo Longbranch Pennywhistle with Glenn Frey. However, bassist Randy Meisner objects to the idea of Souther joining the new group so the idea is abandoned and a four piece line-up is decided upon: Glenn Frey (vocals, guitar, occasional piano), Don Henley (vocals, drums), Randy Meisner (bass, vocals) and Bernie Leadon (guitar, vocals).
Although Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon all play in Linda Ronstadt’s backing group over her summer 1971 tour, other musicians are also used. In fact, there is only one show where all four of the future Eagles appear together backing Ronstadt and that is at Disneyland in July 1971. However, all four of them contribute as musicians to her next album, ‘Linda Ronstadt’ (1972) (US no. 163).
The future Eagles sign a recording contract with Asylum Records in September 1971. Asylum is a fledgling label created by David Geffen, the same individual who urged Glenn Frey to form a group rather than attempt a solo career. Asylum will subsequently also sign such associates of The Eagles as Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt and J.D. Souther. David Geffen and his partner Elliot Roberts co-manage the act that will become The Eagles.
David Geffen sends Glenn Frey and company to Aspen, Colorado, to rehearse and get their sound together as a band. They play their first gig in October 1971 at a club called ‘The Gallery’ in Aspen. On this occasion, they are billed as Teen King And The Emergencies.
There are a few different versions of how the group comes to be called The Eagles. Don Felder, a later member of The Eagles, claims that guitarist Bernie Leadon came up with the name during a group excursion to the desert, when the boys are fuelled by peyote (a psychedelic drug) and tequila. J.D. Souther, Glenn Frey’s former partner in Longbranch Pennywhistle, says Frey spotted an eagle flying overhead and that inspired the name. Comedian Steve Martin, a long-time associate of the band, contends that he suggested the name of The Eagles and Glenn Frey excised the definite article leaving Eagles. It is true that on all their album sleeves, the group is credited as Eagles rather than The Eagles. Without any disrespect to Glenn Frey, it becomes so common for fans and critics alike to call the group The Eagles that it feels more like their natural name and so they are referred to here as The Eagles. It also appears likely that one of the reasons why the group chooses the name of The Eagles is to indicate they are continuing the country rock tradition established by acts like The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
The music played by The Eagles is usually classed as country rock. As the name implies, country rock is a mixture of country music and rock music. The Eagles do not invent country rock. ‘Safe At Home’ (1967) by The International Submarine Band, a combo led by Gram Parsons, is most likely the first country rock album. Parsons goes on to join The Byrds and initiates their shift from folk rock to country rock on ‘Sweetheart Of The Rodeo’ (1968). Gram Parson is perhaps the most influential figure in the development of the country rock genre. ‘John Wesley Harding’ (1968) by Bob Dylan brings country rock to wider notice due to Dylan’s standing in the industry (though his roots are really in folk music). After a short stint in The Byrds, Gram Parsons forms The Flying Burrito Brothers – which future Eagle Bernie Leadon joins, though he is not among the original line-up of that act. Important though all these artists and albums may be, it is The Eagles who really publicise and epitomise country rock. They embody the dusty sentimentality of country and the driving beat of rock. Over the course of the 1970s, The Eagles will change from a mainly country band to a mainly rock band.
Although it doesn’t start out this way, The Eagles come to be dominated by the partnership of guitarist Glenn Frey and drummer Don Henley. They are the group’s main songwriters. Unless otherwise indicated, all Eagles songs mentioned here are co-written by Frey and Henley. “A band cannot be a democracy,” says Henley. “It doesn’t work. It’s a façade. All the great bands in history had one or two people at the helm.” Henley says of Frey, “He pulls us through because he’s the catalyst.” Frey says of Henley, “We don’t see eye to eye on everything, but that’s okay…Without Don we’d just be love songs and harmonies.”
One of the distinguishing features of The Eagles is the band’s approach to vocals. Although ‘they want to follow The Byrds, Poco and The Flying Burrito Brothers on the country rock road’, they also want ‘a vocal sound as distinctive as The Beach Boys and The Beatles’. This means a careful, well-rehearsed use of layered voices. The gruff Don Henley is at the lower end, while the angelic Randy Meisner occupies the higher register. Glenn Frey is flexible enough to fill the space in between as individual songs require, with Bernie Leadon lending minimal support. The lead vocal is usually by either Henley or Frey. The balance between the two is roughly equal. In the earlier days, Frey is probably dominant but, by the late 1970s, the reverse is true, with Henley receiving slightly more lead vocals. Because of the band’s name, journalists love to describe The Eagles’ vocals as ‘soaring’. This may have become a cliché, but it remains true.
The Eagles’ debut single, ‘Take It Easy’ (US no. 12, AUS no. 49), is released on 1 May 1972. ‘Take It Easy’ is co-written by Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey and his friend, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne. Frey is lead vocalist on the song. Over thrumming acoustic guitars, Frey sings, “Well, I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona / I’m such a fine sight to see / It’s a girl, my Lord! / In a flat-bed Ford / Slowin’ down to take a look at me / Come on, baby / Don’t say maybe / I gotta know if your sweet love is gonna save me.” In the chorus, the group harmonies drag out “ee-ee-easy” into a keening wail. Jackson Browne started the song, writing one line (“Well, I’m standin’ on a corner…”) and his then-neighbour Glenn Frey wrote the next line (“It’s a girl, my Lord!…”). ‘Take It Easy’ is based on a real incident. Jackson Browne’s car broke down on his way to Sedona, Arizona – though he admits he might have actually been ‘Standin’ on a corner’ in Flagstaff, Arizona, rather than Winslow, Arizona. The handsome Browne recalls a girl in a Toyota pick-up checking him out. Frey, who had been regaled with this tale earlier, weaves this into the narrative. In 2016 a commemorative statue of Glenn Frey will be erected on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. The banjo on ‘Take It Easy’ is played by Eagles guitarist Bernie Leadon. Jackson Browne will later record his own version of ‘Take It Easy’ on his second album, ‘For Everyman’ (1973).
The debut album, ‘Eagles’ (1972) (US no. 22), is released on 17 June. Like almost all their albums, ‘Eagles’ is released on the Asylum record label. Although The Eagles’ sound is quintessentially American, this album is recorded at Olympic Studios in London, England, with British producer Glyn Johns. It takes two weeks to record in February 1972 and costs one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. Guitarist Glenn Frey and drummer Don Henley want the album to rock while guitarist Bernie Leadon favours a stronger country flavour. Leadon has an important ally: producer Glyn Johns. “Glyn thought we were a nice, country rock, semi-acoustic band, and every time we wanted to rock ‘n’ roll, he could name a thousand British bands that could do it better,” reports Don Henley. Glyn Johns emphasises the group’s harmonies. “We learned tons and tons from Glynn,” admits Glenn Frey. The photo on the cover of the album is a shot of the sky above trees in Joshua Tree National Park in south-eastern California. The photo is taken by Henry Diltz and the art director for the album is Gary Burden. In putting together The Eagles, Glenn Frey explains that, “Everybody had to look good, sing good, play good and write good.” Don Henley says, “Our main goal…was to write good, memorable songs.” He adds, “We had four singers and though we weren’t the first band to feature a line-up like that, we wanted to make use of it in unique ways.” ‘Eagles’ contains ten songs: Glenn Frey is lead vocalist on three, bassist Randy Meisner is lead vocalist on three and Don Henley and Bernie Leadon get two apiece. Henley opines that there were “too many chiefs, not enough Indians.” ‘Eagles’ includes the debut single ‘Take It Easy’ (co-written by Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne). ‘Witchy Woman’ (US no. 9, AUS no. 81) is co-written by Don Henley and Bernie Leadon with a lead vocal by Henley. His hoarse voice spins a tale of a supernatural sweetie. The biting guitars approximate an Apache tribal dance. Bernie Leadon started writing ‘Witchy Woman’ while he was still in The Flying Burrito Brothers. Don Henley’s inspirations for the song’s protagonist were Zelda Fitzgerald and also ‘a girl he knew who was interested in the occult.’ Zelda Fitzgerald was a 1920s U.S. socialite, a ‘flapper’ (jazz dancer) and the wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. The line “She drove herself to madness with the silver spoon” is a reference to Zelda’s stay in a mental institution and the ‘silver spoon’ was used to dissolve sugar cubes with the (dangerously potent) alcoholic drink called Absinthe. Don Henley describes ‘Witchy Woman’ as “an important song for me, because it marked the beginning of my professional songwriting career.” Jack Tempchin, an aspiring Los Angeles singer-songwriter, provides ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ (US no. 22), which is crooned by Glenn Frey in a country music-influenced song of reassurance. “Having three hit singles on our very first album scared us a little bit,” claims Don Henley. ‘Eagles’ creates ‘a new template for laid-back L.A. country rock’ but ‘behind the band’s mellow message’ is ‘a relentless drive.’
The band’s drummer, Don Henley, has a family tragedy less than a month after the release of ‘Eagles’. “[My father C.J. Henley] literally worked himself to death, and he had a cardiac [arrest] and he died on July 7th 1972 after four or five heart attacks,” says Don.
The Eagles support the release of their first album by going on tour around the U.S.A. as the unlikely opening act for the British art rock band Yes.
The Eagles’ former employer, country rock singer Linda Ronstadt, is romantically involved with J.D. Souther (who was in Longbranch Pennywhistle with Glenn Frey prior to Frey joining The Eagles) from 1972 to 1974.
The second album by The Eagles, ‘Desperado’ (1973) (US no. 41, UK no. 39, AUS no. 31), is released on 17 April. Although Asylum will continue to be The Eagles’ record label, ‘Desperado’ is actually the last Asylum record to be distributed by Atlantic Records. In mid-1973 Asylum merges with Elektra and both labels are distributed by Warner Bros. Records (sometimes under the banner of WEA – Warners Elektra Asylum – though The Eagles remain resolutely on Asylum). Like The Eagles’ debut album, ‘Desperado’ is recorded in England with producer Glyn Johns. However, ‘Desperado’ is more ambitious; it is a ‘serious…concept album’ with ‘songs about anti-heroes.’ The band dresses up as Old West outlaws for the album cover. Once again, Gary Burden is the art director and Henry Diltz is the photographer. Diltz also supplies the stylised Old West lettering for the band’s name and the album title. Drummer Don Henley recalls, “As a 21st birthday present, our friend and fellow musician Ned Doheny had given Jackson Browne a big coffee-table book of photos of famous outlaws of the Old West. Jackson showed the book to [Eagles associate] J.D. [Souther] and [Eagles guitarist] Glenn [Frey] and suggested they all collaborate on a song about some of these outlaws.” The song composed by Henley, Frey, Souther and Browne is ‘Doolin’ Dalton’. It is the centrepiece and a recurring framing device for ‘Desperado’. Lead vocals on ‘Doolin’ Dalton’ are shared by Henley and Frey. The song is about Bill Doolin and Bill Dalton of the 1890s Doolin-Dalton gang a.k.a. ‘The Wild Bunch’. “Like the outlaws, rock ‘n’ roll bands lived outside the ‘laws of normality’; we were not part of ‘conventional society’,” claims Henley, explaining how the album’s theme ties in to the group themselves. It is from ‘Desperado’, The Eagles’ second album, that Frey and Henley really become dominant with the group. “When we formed the band, it was supposed to be one of those ‘everybody’s equal’ affairs…but the fact is people aren’t all going to be able to do everything the same,” says Henley. Consequently, ‘the rest of the band members feel less and less like equals.’ Not all the tracks on ‘Desperado’ directly fit into the over-arching cowboy theme. The bloodshot ‘Tequila Sunrise’ (US no. 64) seems to brood equally over booze and women, despite its comfortable country tune. “’Tequila Sunrise’ was Glenn’s baby,” asserts Don Henley who shares the songwriting credit, but leaves the lead vocal to Glenn Frey. ‘Tequila Sunrise’ is one of two singles lifted from ‘Desperado’; the other single is ‘Outlaw Man’ (US no. 59), a cover version of a 1973 David Blue song chosen because it fits the album’s theme. With its burning guitars and electric piano, ‘Outlaw Man’ sounds remarkably like a Neil Young song (Young’s mix of folk, rock and country puts him in roughly the same territory as his contemporaries The Eagles). Glenn Frey is lead singer on The Eagles’ version of ‘Outlaw Man’. Eight of the eleven tracks on ‘Desperado’ are co-written by Henley and Frey but the title track, ‘Desperado’, is the first song they write together without any other contributors. Sung by Don Henley, ‘Desperado’ becomes one of The Eagles’ best known pieces. “Desperado / Oh, you ain’t getting’ any younger / Your pain and your hunger / They’re drivin’ you home / And freedom / Oh, freedom / Well, that’s just some people talkin’ / Your prison is walkin’ / Through this world all alone,” runs part of the lyric. ‘Desperado’ is a piano-based ballad couched by swelling orchestration in its latter part. Henley’s former Shiloh colleague Jim Ed Norman writes the string arrangement – and will provide similar services on most of The Eagles’ albums. ‘Desperado’ is never released as a single by The Eagles. “’Desperado’…didn’t get much attention until Linda Ronstadt recorded it,” admits Henley. The Eagles’ former employer includes her own version of ‘Desperado’ on her album ‘Don’t Cry Now’ (1973) (US no. 45, AUS no. 46) – though she doesn’t issue it as a single either.
While working on their third album, The Eagles decide to expand to a five-piece line-up. Guitarist Don Felder joins The Eagles in January 1974.
Donald William Felder is born on 21 September 1947 in Gainesville, Florida. He is the son of Charles Nolan Felder and Doris Rebecca Felder (nee Brigman). Don’s family background is Swiss-German (on his father’s side) and English (on his mother’s side). Don Felder is raised in a Southern Baptist family. His early life is difficult because the family struggles financially.
Like Randy Meisner, Don Felder is turned on to music by Elvis Presley’s appearance on television’s ‘Ed Sullivan Show’. Don gets his first guitar when he is 10 years old. As the years pass, Don works part-time in a music shop to obtain better equipment. Don Felder gives guitar tuition to the shop’s customers in exchange for instruction in music theory. As a teenager, he gives guitar lessons to future rock star Tom Petty.
When he is 15 Don Felder forms his first group, The Continentals. This act includes guitarist Stephen Stills (later of Crosby, Stills And Nash). When Stills leaves The Continentals, he is replaced by future Eagle Bernie Leadon. The group renames itself The Maundy Quintet and releases a single in 1967 called ‘2’s Better Than 3’.
Don Felder moves to New York and joins Flow, an improvisational rock and jazz fusion band. They release one album, ‘Flow’ (1970).
In 1971 Don Felder marries Susan Pickersgill. Don and Susan go on to have four children: a son named Jesse (born on 6 April 1974), Rebecca (born on 31 December 1975), Cody (born on 10 October 1978) and Leah (born on 24 November 1982).
Don Felder moves to Boston, Massachusetts, and gets a job in a recording studio. Through his old friend Bernie Leadon, Felder meets The Eagles in 1972 while they are on their first tour. Felder moves to Los Angeles and finds work there as a session musician and as a guitarist in the back-up groups for various performers. In January 1974 Don Felder becomes the fifth member of The Eagles. “I was blown away that a great band like The Eagles would ask me to join,” says Felder.
The Eagles’ third album, ‘On The Border’ (1974) (US no. 17, UK no. 28, AUS no. 27), is released on 22 March. Recording sessions start with Glyn Johns, the producer of the group’s previous albums. However, only two songs – ‘Best Of My Love’ (co-written by guitarist Glenn Frey, drummer Don Henley and Frey’s old buddy J.D. Souther) and ‘You Never Cry Like A Lover’ (co-written by Henley and Souther), both sung by Henley – are completed before relations between producer and band sour. Partly, this breakdown is due to Glyn John’s preferring The Eagles stick to country music while Frey and Henley are pushing towards a more rock direction. Another factor is that Glyn Johns has a strict ‘no drugs’ policy during recording. The recording sessions for the rest of the album take place in Los Angeles (instead of Johns’ native England) with Bill Szymczyk taking over production duties. Szymczyk remains The Eagles’ producer for the rest of the 1970s. Following Henley and Frey’s directive, Bill Szymczyk wants a harder edge to the group’s guitar sound. Guitarist Bernie Leadon suggests his former bandmate Don Felder. He is added to the group fairly late in the process of making this album so Felder appears on only two tracks: ‘Good Day In Hell’ (with vocals by Henley and Frey) and the album’s first single, ‘Already Gone’ (US no. 32). This track is co-written by Jack Tempchin (author of ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ from ‘Eagles’) and Robb Strandlund and showcases the band’s new triple guitar attack in scorching style. Glenn Frey provides the lead vocal. ‘James Dean’ (US no. 77) is a hard-rocking tribute to the late 1950s movie star who was “Too fast to live, too young to die.” Once again, the lead vocal is by Glenn Frey. ‘James Dean’ is co-written by Henley, Frey, Souther and Jackson Browne. The third single from ‘On The Border’ turns out to be the album’s biggest hit, the group’s most successful single yet and The Eagles’ first no. 1, topping the U.S. singles chart on 1 March 1975. Ironically, ‘Best Of My Love’ (US no. 1, AUS no. 14) is a gentle acoustic ballad produced by Glyn Johns before The Eagles’ change in musical direction and producer. Don Henley tackles the lead vocal in a slow and weary rasp: “Every morning I wake up and worry / What’s gonna happen today? / You see it your way and I see it mine / But we both see it slippin’ away.” The song seems to strike a chord with the general public. Glenn Frey recounts the origin of the song: “I was playing acoustic guitar one afternoon in Laurel Canyon [in Los Angeles], and I was trying to figure out a tuning that [singer-songwriter] Joni Mitchell had shown me a couple of days earlier. I got lost and ended up with the guitar tuning for what would later turn out to be ‘Best Of My Love’.” The song is completed with the aid of two more co-authors, Don Henley and J.D. Souther. ‘On The Border’ also includes a cover version of the 1973 Tom Waits song ‘Ol’ 55’ (with vocals by Henley and Frey) and Bernie Leadon’s ‘My Man’, a tribute to his Flying Burrito Brothers comrade Gram Parsons who died on 19 September 1973 at the age of 26 as a result of a drug overdose.
During the recording of ‘On The Border’ Irving Azoff takes over from David Geffen as the manager of The Eagles. Azoff worked for Geffen and Elliot Roberts so his new role is a case of promotion from within the same organisation.
The Eagles play before two hundred thousand people at the California Jam Festival on 6 April 1974. They seem a bit out of place on a bill that, generally, skews towards heavier rock acts such as Emerson, Lake And Palmer, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Black Oak Arkansas. The California Jam Festival is described as ‘relatively dull’ even if it does bring The Eagles to a wider audience. Guitarist Don Felder is absent from the gig because his first child, his son Jesse, is born on the same day. The Eagles’ associate Jackson Browne fills in for Felder in the group’s line-up on the day.
From 1974 to 1976 Eagles vocalist and guitarist Glenn Frey dates Lynn Schiller.
From 1974 to 1982 Eagles guitarist Bernie Leadon is in a romantic relationship with Patti Davis, the daughter of future U.S. President Ronald Reagan.
In 1974 Eagles vocalist and drummer Don Henley is romantically linked to U.S. jewellery designer Loree Rodkin.
In 1975 Don Henley becomes a father for the first time when his daughter Brittany is born. Brittany’s mother is ‘a woman who has not been publicly identified.’ Don Henley goes on to have a relationship with U.S. author Lorelei Shellist in 1975-1976.
The Eagles’ fourth album, ‘One Of These Nights’ (1975) (US no. 1, UK no. 8, AUS no. 5), is released on 10 June. The cover of the album is the image of a painted cow skull. The paintbrush was applied to the skeletal remains by Boyd Elder (a.k.a. El Changadero), a friend of Gary Burden, the art director for most of The Eagles’ album covers. The title track, ‘One Of These Nights’ (US no. 1, UK no. 23, AUS no. 33), displays a new dynamism in the arrangement. Randy Meisner’s bass burbles through the opening, guitar chords hang in the air, and then the band marshals and charges forth. Drummer Don Henley gives voice to the idea that, “I’ve been searchin’ for the daughter of the devil himself / And I’ve been searchin’ for an angel in white / And I’ve been waitin’ for a woman who’s a little of both and I can feel her but she’s nowhere in sight.” ‘One Of These Nights’ becomes The Eagles’ second no. 1 single, topping the U.S. chart for one week on 2 August 1975. Don Henley came up with the title, ‘One Of These Nights’, but his song-writing partner Glenn Frey explains the song’s theme this way: “We’ve all said, ‘One of these nights I’m gonna do something…get that girl, make that money, find that house.’” As for the song’s musical approach, Henley says, “We like to be a nice little country rock band from Los Angeles…about half the time. We wanted to get away from the ballad syndrome with ‘One Of These Nights’. With [guitarist] Don Felder in the band now, we can really rock!” Frey adds that he “wanted ‘One Of These Nights’ to have a lot of teeth, a lot of bite – a nasty track with pretty words.” Glenn Frey wrote the song’s descending progression on piano. The bass drum pattern supposedly ‘nods to disco’ music. To describe ‘One Of These Nights’ as a disco song would be a distortion and an exaggeration, but it does have more of a groove than most Eagles songs. Glenn Frey claims, “It is my favourite Eagles record.” When ‘One Of These Nights’ is issued as a single, the B side is ‘Visions’, another track from the album. ‘Visions’ is co-written by Don Henley and Don Felder and it is notable as the only Eagles song on which guitarist Don Felder is the lead vocalist. The Eagles have not entirely discarded country music. ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ (US no. 2, UK no. 23, AUS no. 34), sung by Glenn Frey, is one of their finest country-oriented efforts. Fittingly, it is one of their more successful songs on the country music chart. It is a typical country lament for an unfaithful woman, but there is sympathy, as much as condemnation, for the adulterer: “Late at night / A big old house gets lonely / I guess every form of refuge has its price / And it breaks her heart to think her love is only / Given to a man with hands as cold as ice.” This narrative is bonded to lush acoustic guitars. Henley and Frey wrote ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ in Dan Tana’s, a Los Angeles restaurant/bar they frequented. The clientele included many beautiful women. One such patron was accompanied by an older, fat man and Frey remarked, “She can’t hide those lyin’ eyes.” This line sparks the idea for the song. The piano on ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ is played by Jim Ed Norman (formerly with Shiloh, Don Henley’s old band). ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ is primarily written by Glenn Frey, though Don Henley has some input. It is the only track on this album to feature Frey as lead vocalist. “[Glenn] was generous in that respect,” says Henley of his increased vocal duties. “He’s the best singer I’ve ever worked with,” Frey says of Henley. “I’m blessed with a pretty good voice,” the drummer allows. ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ is also evidence of The Eagles growing reputation for perfectionism. Frey sings the opening line (“City girls just seem to find out early”) over and over again, trying to find just the right intonation for the word ‘city’. ‘Take It To The Limit’ (US no. 4, UK no. 12, AUS no. 30) is a rather creditable pseudo-soul song. Bassist Randy Meisner co-writes this song with Henley and Frey and it is Meisner’s aching, high-pitched voice that wrings the heartache out of the song. Meisner says that ‘Take It To The Limit’ started as a solo composition, but “I’d get a verse or two and I’m done and they [i.e. Henley and Frey] would fill in the blanks.” Meisner says the point pushed in the song’s lyric is “to keep trying before you reach a point in your life where you feel you’ve done everything.” ‘Take It To The Limit’ is the only Eagles single to feature Randy Meisner as lead vocalist. Jim Ed Norman plays piano and conducts the string arrangement on this waltz-timed piece. Guitarist Bernie Leadon contributes a banjo-based instrumental titled ‘Journey Of The Sorceror’. Guest musician David Bromberg plays the fiddle on this tune. ‘Journey Of The Sorceror’ has become closely identified with Douglas Adams’ science-fiction comedy ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’. ‘Journey Of The Sorceror’ was first used in the 1978 radio broadcast of ‘The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and has continued to be associated with it in various other media incarnations. Finally, Glenn Frey and Don Henley sift through the ashes on the melancholy ‘After The Thrill Is Gone’ on which they share lead vocals. “Glenn and I were really beginning to come into our own as songwriters [on this album],” says Henley. Glenn Frey claims that, “’One Of These Nights’ was the most fluid and ‘painless’ album [we] ever made.” This album ‘transforms [The Eagles] into international superstars and…America’s number one band.’
The Eagles undertake a worldwide tour to promote ‘One Of These Nights’. This includes a gig at Wembley Stadium in London on 21 June 1975 as a support act for flamboyant pop singer Elton John. As well as The Eagles, other acts supporting Elton at this show are funk band Rufus, 1960s surf pop stars The Beach Boys and a future member of The Eagles: Joe Walsh.
In December 1975 guitarist Bernie Leadon leaves The Eagles. He has grown disenchanted due to Don Henley and Glenn Frey being ‘ever-increasingly in charge’ and the band’s ‘ever more concerted shift away from country rock.’ However Leadon later points out, “That’s an oversimplification; it implies that I had no interest in rock or blues or anything but country rock. That’s just not the case. I didn’t just play Fender Telecaster. I played a Gibson Les Paul and I enjoyed rock ‘n’ roll. That’s evident from the early albums.” Leadon tenders his resignation in an imaginative way. He is sitting with Glenn Frey in the bar of a hotel where the band is staying. Frey, in his customary animated fashion, is holding forth on what he sees for the future of The Eagles. Leadon picks up a beer and pours it over Frey’s head, saying, “You need to chill out, man!” Leadon later reflects, “It was my choice to leave when I did.” He ‘later cites a need to get healthy and break the vicious cycle of touring, recording and heavy drug use that was rampant within the band’ as motivations for his exit.
Ten days after Bernie Leadon leaves The Eagles, it is announced on 20 December 1975 that Joe Walsh is joining the group as Leadon’s replacement.
Joe Walsh is born Joseph Fidler on 20 November 1947 in Wichita, Kansas. He is the son of Robert Fidler and Helen Alice Fidler (nee Bowen). “My dad was an air force instructor in Okinawa [in Japan] in a Lockheed F-80 Shooting Star, and when I was 1 and ½, he bumped wings with another guy and didn’t come back,” says Joe. That is, Robert Fidler dies in a plane crash. When Joe is 5 years old, his mother remarries. Joe takes on his new stepfather’s surname of Walsh and his original surname – Fidler – becomes his middle name.
“After my mother remarried, we lived in a whole bunch of places: Wichita [Kansas], Evanston [Illinois], Columbus [Ohio], New York [and] New Jersey,” Joe Walsh recalls. He is 12 when the family moves to New York City and winds up attending Montclair High School in New Jersey. Joe develops a persona as ‘class clown’ as a defence to always being the new kid in school. His other coping mechanism is music.
Joe Walsh’s mother was a classically trained pianist of Scottish and German ancestry. Joe also shows some musical ability. While at high school, he starts playing trombone before switching to oboe. However, Joe Walsh soon finds his way to the instrument with which he will become identified: the guitar. Joe plays in a high school band called The G-Clefts. What really confirms Walsh’s new outlook is the appearance in 1964 of British pop group The Beatles on U.S. television program ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’. Joe Walsh replaces Bruce Hoffman in a local band called The Nomads, even though it necessitates a switch from guitar to bass for Walsh.
When Joe Walsh finishes at Montclair High School in New Jersey he moves on to Kent State University in Ohio. Walsh plays in various Cleveland, Ohio, bands. In 1965 he fronts a band called The Measles (Walsh is, of course, back to playing guitar as well). The Ohio Express is a bubblegum pop act whose recordings are issued by Super K Productions. The odd thing about The Ohio Express is that they don’t actually exist. A variety of local bands go into the recording studio and when their work is released it is credited to The Ohio Express. The Ohio Express album ‘Beg, Borrow And Steal’ (1967) includes two songs performed by Joe Walsh’s band, The Measles: ‘I Find I Think Of You’ and ‘And It’s True’. Joe Walsh drops out of university to pursue a career in music.
In the 1960s Joe Walsh is (briefly) married to Margie Walsh.
Another Ohio band in this era is The James Gang. This musical trio is named after a pack of Wild West outlaws. Founded in 1967, The James Gang (the hard rock band) consists of Jim Fox (vocals, drums), Glen Schwartz (guitar) and Tom Kriss (bass). In April 1968 Glen Schwartz leaves and is replaced by ‘local guitar wizard’ Joe Walsh. The ‘unique sound’ of Walsh attracts fledgling record producer Bill Szymczyk. He will become The Eagles producer from ‘On The Border’ (1974). Szymczyk signs The James Gang to ABC Records and produces their debut, ‘Yer Album’ (1969), with Joe Walsh as vocalist and guitarist. The album includes the single ‘Funk #48’ (US no. 126). The James Gang tours as a support act for British rock band The Who and Joe Walsh’s guitar-playing is lauded by The Who’s guitarist, Pete Townshend. Bassist Tom Kriss leaves The James Gang in January 1970 and is replaced by Dale Peters. This creates the ‘classic’ James Gang line-up: Joe Walsh (vocals, guitar), Dale Peters (bass) and Jim Fox (drums). Dale Peters debuts on ‘James Gang Rides Again’ (1970), home to the single ‘Funk #49’ (US no. 59). In April comes ‘Thirds’ (1971) and the singles ‘Walk Away’ (US no. 51) and ‘Midnight Man’ (US no. 80). After September’s ‘James Gang Live In Concert’ (1971), Joe Walsh ‘becomes dissatisfied with the band’s limitations’ and leaves the group in November 1971. The James Gang continues for some years with other members.
Joe Walsh toys with forming a new group, Barnstorm (1971-1973). This unit consists of: Joe Walsh (vocals, guitar), Kenny Passarelli (bass) and Joe Vitale (drums, multi-instrumentalist). However, their recordings are listed under Joe Walsh’s name. Passarelli and Vitale often work with Walsh in the guitarist’s subsequent solo career.
In 1971 Joe Walsh marries his second wife, Stefany Rhodes. Joe and Stefany have a daughter, Emma Kristen (1971-1974). The little girl dies in 1974 at the age of 3 as a result of injuries she sustains in a car smash on the way to nursery school.
Between leaving The James Gang and joining The Eagles, Joe Walsh records the following albums: ‘Barnstorm’ (1972), ‘The Smoker You Drink, The Player You Get’ (1973) (US no. 6), ‘So What’ (1974) (US no. 11) and ‘You Can’t Argue With A Sick Mind’ (1975) (US no. 20, UK no. 28). Walsh’s hit singles from this era are ‘Rocky Mountain Way’ (US no. 23) and ‘Meadows’ (US no. 89) (both from ‘The Smoker You Drink…’).
Joe Walsh ‘struggles with drug and alcohol addictions for most of his early career.’ “I ended up an alcoholic and totally dependent on various other substances,” Walsh admits. It will be decades before this situation changes. Joe’s antics earn him the nickname ‘The Clown Prince of Rock.’
When Joe Walsh joins The Eagles in December 1975, he is perceived to be an ‘unlikely’ replacement for Bernie Leadon. Walsh is a colourful character and a well-respected hard rock guitarist while The Eagles are country rock perfectionists. However, it is a ‘move indicative of [Walsh’s] swing from heavy rock towards soft rock territory’ and The Eagles’ corresponding swing towards hard rock. It helps that the two acts share a producer (Bill Szymczyk) and a manager (Irving Azoff). Joe Walsh observes that, “[Guitarist] Glenn [Frey] is ultimately a boy from Detroit…[Drummer] Don [Henley] is very methodical…It’s Glenn’s band. He decides sh*t with Don. I joined their band. They call the shots…It’s a democracy with two dictators.”
The addition of Joe Walsh in December 1975 creates, arguably, the definitive Eagles line-up: Glenn Frey (vocals, guitar, occasional piano), Don Henley (vocals, drums), Joe Walsh (guitar, vocals, occasional keyboards), Don Felder (guitar, vocals) and Randy Meisner (bass, vocals).
From 1976 to 1978 Eagles drummer Don Henley is in an ‘on and off’ romantic relationship with Stevie Nicks, a vocalist for fellow rock band Fleetwood Mac. Allegedly, during this time Nicks has an abortion after falling pregnant to Henley. The 1979 Fleetwood Mac song ‘Sara’, written and sung by Nicks, is – according to Henley – about their unborn child.
The Eagles’ first compilation album, ‘Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)’ (1976) (US no. 1, UK no. 2, AUS no. 3), is released on 17 February. The painted eagle skull on the album’s cover is the work of Boyd Elder (a.k.a. El Changadero), the same person who applied paint to a cow skull for the cover of ‘One Of These Nights’. ‘Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)’ is ‘the first album certified platinum for sales of one million copies.’
The Eagles’ best album, ‘Hotel California’ (1976) (US no. 1, UK no. 4, AUS no. 1), is released on 8 December. The cover photo of the Beverly Hills Hotel just before sunset is taken by David Alexander. John Kosh is responsible for the album design as well as the neon logo of the album title. There is a loose theme linking most of the songs on ‘Hotel California’, a kind of disenchantment with the promise associated with California and a discovery that it is only a façade. “’California’ carries with it all kind of connotations…There’s a built-in mythology,” says vocalist and drummer Don Henley. ‘New Kid In Town’ (US no. 1, UK no. 20, AUS no. 16), the first single from ‘Hotel California’, is co-written by Henley, guitarist Glenn Frey (who also supplies the lead vocal) and Frey’s buddy J.D. Souther. The song has a sweet, country lilt. The novelty of a newcomer wears thin by the final verse when electric guitar chords add drama to the gentle acoustics: “Where you been lately? / There’s a new kid in town / Everybody loves him (don’t they?) / And he’s holding her / And you’re still around.” “It’s about the fleeting and fickle nature of love and romance. It’s also about the fleeting nature of fame, especially in the music business,” explains Don Henley. J.D. Souther had written the chorus for ‘New Kid In Town’ but didn’t know what to do with it, so Henley and Frey completed the song. New Eagle Joe Walsh plays keyboards rather than guitar on this song. ‘New Kid In Town’ becomes The Eagles third no. 1 single, topping the U.S. singles chart for one week on 26 February 1977. The Eagles’ next single, the album’s title track ‘Hotel California’ (US no. 1, UK no. 8, AUS no. 60), repeats the feat becoming The Eagles’ fourth no. 1 single and topping the U.S. chart for one week on 7 May 1977. It also achieves the highest chart position in the U.K. of any Eagles single. The song ‘Hotel California’ is co-written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey and guitarist Don Felder. The lead vocal is by Henley. Don Felder writes the basic melody for ‘Hotel California’ and it is given the working title ‘Mexican Reggae’ based on Don Henley’s off-hand comment on the sound. The Beverly Hills Hotel (pictured on the album cover) is an inspiration for the ‘Hotel California’. “The hotel itself could be taken as a metaphor not only for the myth-making of Southern California, but for the myth-making that is the American Dream,” says Henley. So, on one level, this is a depiction of California as a soulless shell with corruption rotting away just below the surface. It is ambiguous enough to also be read simply as a ghost story of an edifice “On a dark desert highway” where a traveller enters and sees “In the master’s chambers / They gather for the feast / They stab it with their steely knives / But they just can’t kill the beast.” As co-author Glenn Frey puts it, it is “a weird world peopled by freaky characters…like an episode of [the unsettling 1960s television program] ‘The Twilight Zone’.” The meaning of one line in ‘Hotel California’ gives Don Henley some grief. The traveller who is the protagonist of the narrative meets a young woman and declares “Her mind is Tiffany twisted / She got the Mercedes bends.” “I got a letter from a woman telling me I spelled the car name [Mercedes Benz] wrong,” grumbles Henley. The complainant doesn’t seem to understand that it is a pun, indicating the woman has mentally succumbed to avarice just as a scuba diver can suffer ‘the bends’ when surfacing too quickly and an excess of nitrogen in the blood unbalances them. ‘Hotel California’ is also partly inspired by Henley’s 1974 break-up with Loree Rodkin. Overall, Henley says ‘Hotel California’ (the song) is about “a journey from innocence to experience…that’s all.” Arguably, ‘Hotel California’ is ‘the most famous recording by the band.’ When asked which Eagles song makes him most proud, Don Henley says, “I guess I’d say ‘Hotel California’ although I feel it is important to point out that Glenn [Frey] contributed some very important lines to that set of lyrics.” ‘Hotel California’ is also a song that concludes with a ‘long guitar coda’, a ‘guitar duel between Don Felder and Joe Walsh.’ The third single from ‘Hotel California’ is ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ (US no. 11, AUS no. 96). This song is co-written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh. The lead vocal is by Henley. This is a tale of a modern outlaw couple: “He was a hot-headed man / He was brutally handsome / And she was terminally grey / She held him up and he held her for ransom / In a part of the cold, cold city.” Their adventure reaches an ambiguous conclusion: “They went rushing down that freeway / Messed around and got lost / They didn’t care / They were just dyin’ to get off.” In a way, this is a mirror image of ‘Hotel California’. The trap of life in some idealised version of California is the same, but the trappings here are aggressively modern rather than gothic. ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ begins with Joe Walsh’s remarkable, transformative guitar riff. Don Henley recalls, “One day at rehearsal, Joe just busted out the crazy riff and I said, ‘What the hell is that? We’ve got to figure out how to make a song out of that.” Co-author Glenn Frey supplies the title based on a past experience. Frey was on the freeway with a drug-dealer known as ‘The Count.’ His companion’s reckless driving caused Frey to ask him to slow down. The Count’s response was, “What do you mean? It’s life in the fast lane!” The Eagles intend ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ to be a critique of the hectic pace of modern life but the phrase is co-opted as a motto by the very same individuals who were the original target. Although not as commercially successful as the two prior singles, ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ is actually the high point of the group’s catalogue. For some time, The Eagles have been straining to be seen as a rock band rather than a country band and, with this song, that goal is fully realised. When a witty and insightful lyric is added, this means The Eagles are also now more than a band singing love songs with pretty harmonies (which had been one of Glenn Frey’s fears). The ballad ‘Wasted Time’, which closes the first half of this album, is about ‘failed relationships’ according to its vocalist and co-author Don Henley. A brief instrumental version, ‘Wasted Time (Reprise)’, opens the second half of ‘Hotel California’ with orchestration by Jim Ed Norman (earning him a co-writing credit). ‘Victim Of Love’ is a brutal hard rock song with four authors: Henley, Frey, Souther and Felder. Guitarist Don Felder did the lead vocal on early takes of ‘Victim Of Love’ but Don Henley is lead vocalist on the finished version because it was felt that Felder’s singing ‘was not up to the required standard.’ Joe Walsh is featured on ‘Pretty Maids All In A Row’, a track he co-writes with his frequent collaborator Joe Vitale. ‘Pretty Maids All In A Row’ is unexpectedly delicate, though it does boast an impressive guitar solo from Walsh. The underrated ‘Try And Love Again’ is a showcase for bassist Randy Meisner’s sky-scraping vocals. Meisner is also the author of the song. ‘Hotel California’ closes with ‘The Last Resort’, a piano ballad that counterbalances ‘Wasted Time’ which ended the first half of the album. ‘The Last Resort’ returns to the theme of California’s decay. Don Henley’s vocal denigrates the way in which “They put up a bunch of ugly boxes / And, Jesus, people bought ‘em.” Songwriting partner Glenn Frey describes ‘The Last Resort’ as “Henley’s opus.” The drummer himself says ‘The Last Resort’ is “fairly pedestrian” and “never fully realised, musically speaking.” ‘Hotel California’ took eight months to record, even if ‘Don Henley and Glenn Frey’s attention to detail drove the rest of the group crazy.’ “Every band has its peak,” observes Henley, “and that was ours.” With a clutch of hit singles and a thought-provoking theme loosely knitting the contents together, ‘Hotel California’ is ‘their masterpiece.’
‘The Eagles embark on a world tour in March 1977 that begins with a month in the U.S., followed by a month in Europe and the Far East then returns to the U.S. in May for stadium dates.’ Guitarist Glenn Frey describes the 1970s as a time when he and The Eagles “got crazy, got drunk, got high, had girls, played music and made money.” The ‘Hotel California’ tour ‘drains the band members and strains their personal and creative relationships.’ “We were physically, emotionally, spiritually and creatively exhausted,” says drummer Don Henley. By June 1977 bassist Randy Meisner has a stomach ulcer. He is concerned that he can’t hit the high notes of his signature concert piece ‘Take It To The Limit’ in a live setting and so refuses to perform it. This leads to an argument with Frey and Henley in Knoxville, Tennessee, in June 1977. At the end of the tour, in September 1977 Randy Meisner leaves The Eagles.
Replacing Randy Meisner in 1977 as The Eagles new bassist is Timothy B. Schmit.
Timothy Bruce Schmit is born on 30 October 1947 in Oakland, California. The Eagles are closely identified with California, but of the seven official members of the band over the years, Timothy B. Schmit is the only one born in California; all the others are born elsewhere in the U.S. and eventually move to California. Timothy is the son of Danny Schmit and Janey Schmit. His father, Danny Schmit, is part Chilean and part Mexican. Schmit is the surname of the couple who adopted Danny. Because Danny Schmit is a touring musician, he is often away from home. Timothy’s parents purchase an ‘Expando’ trailer home so the whole family can go on tour. Although this gypsy lifestyle may be romantic, the Schmit family settles in Sacramento, California, after two years.
As a child, Timothy B Schmit takes tap dance lessons. He is also athletic enough to be a gymnast.
Since his father, Danny Schmit, is a musician, Timothy B. Schmit grows up in a musical environment. His first instruments are violin, trombone, ukulele and banjo. “I first got the bug as a teenager and started strumming ukuleles and singing folk songs,” Schmit recalls. In 1960-1961 he plays in a folk music trio called Tim, Tom & Ron. His companions in this endeavour are: Tom Phillips (guitar) and Ron Floegel (ukulele). In 1962 this act evolves into a surf music group called The Contenders. Timothy B. Schmit switches to bass, Ron Floegel switches to rhythm guitar and a fourth member, drummer George Hullin, joins to complete The Contenders line-up. Renaming the band The New Breed, the group releases their first single, ‘Green Eyed Woman’, in September 1965. “My father was so proud that I was following in his footsteps [as a musician],” says Tim. “I wasn’t a particularly good student, but I went to college anyway,” he adds. Timothy B. Schmit studies psychology. Meantime, The New Breed keeps plugging away. In 1968 another name change transforms them into Glad and they release the album ‘Feelin’ Glad’ (1968). Timothy B. Schmit tries to make ends meet by selling vacuum cleaners in the day time.
In 1968 Timothy B. Schmit auditions for country rock band Poco, but they turn him down in favour of (future Eagle) Randy Meisner. Schmit was passed over because it was thought he might be drafted for the war in Vietnam – but that doesn’t happen. When Randy Meisner quits Poco in 1970, Timothy B. Schmit is invited to replace him. Schmit quits Glad – and his psychology studies – and joins Poco in 1970.
From 1970 to 1977 Timothy B. Schmit is a member of Poco. The members of Poco in this era are: Richie Furay (vocals, guitar – 1970-1973), Paul Cotton (vocals, guitar – 1970-1977), Rusty Young (pedal steel guitar – 1970-1977), Timothy B. Schmit (bass, vocals – 1970-1977) and George Grantham (drums – 1970-1977). Timothy B. Schmit appears on the following albums by Poco: ‘Poco’ (1970) (US no. 58), ‘From The Inside’ (1971) (US no. 52), ‘A Good Feelin’ To Know’ (1972) (US no. 69), ‘Crazy Eyes’ (1973) (US no. 38), ‘Seven’ (12 April 1974) (US no. 68), ‘Cantamos’ (1 November 1974) (US no. 76), ‘Head Over Heels’ (1975) (US no. 43), ‘Rose Of Cimarron’ (1976) (US no. 89) and ‘Indian Summer’ (1977). Schmit is one of multiple singer-songwriters in Poco but the 1975 single ‘Keep On Tryin’’ (US no. 50) (from ‘Head Over Heels’) is written and sung by Schmit.
While with Poco, Timothy B. Schmit also makes guest appearances on the following albums by U.S. jazz pop act Steely Dan: ‘Pretzel Logic’ (1974) (US no. 8, UK no. 37, AUS no. 18), ‘The Royal Scam’ (1976) (US no. 15, UK no. 11, AUS no. 30) and ‘Aja’ (1977) (US no. 3, UK no. 5, AUS no. 9).
Shortly after joining Poco, Timothy B. Schmit marries a woman named Noreen. Tim and Noreen have a daughter together, Jeddrah (born in 1971). Tim and Noreen split up in the mid-1970s.
When Timothy B. Schmit joins The Eagles in 1977, guitarist Glenn Frey gives him the nickname ‘Woodstock’ (after the 1969 hippie music festival) because of Schmit’s long hair.
The Eagles begin work on a follow-up album to ‘Hotel California’ (1976) in 1977. ‘Hotel California’ took eight months to record. The next Eagles album will take more than twice as long.
While The Eagles labour in the recording studio, the group’s guitarist, Joe Walsh, takes time out to record another solo album. ‘But Seriously Folks…’ (1978) (US no. 8, UK no. 16) is released on 16 May. This album is home to ‘Life’s Been Good’ (US no. 12), Walsh’s humorous view of a rock star’s daily adventures. It spins out to epic length thanks to Joe Walsh’s well-orchestrated guitar solos.
Joe Walsh’s marriage to his second wife, Stefany Rhodes, comes to an end in 1978. The strain imposed by the death of their 3 year old daughter Emma in 1974 is said to be a factor that leads to the divorce.
When on tour in the 1970s, Joe Walsh brings a chainsaw with him in case he needs to ‘modify’ his hotel room. In 1978 he causes twenty thousand dollars’ worth of damage to a Chicago hotel room with a chainsaw. Walsh’s hotel room renovations over the years include widening doorways, creating doors where none previously existed and chopping various items of décor into pieces.
From 1978 to 1980 Eagles drummer Don Henley is in a romantic relationship with Lois Chiles (born on 15 April 1947). A U.S. actress, Chiles is best known as a ‘Bond girl’ i.e. she plays Holly Goodhead, a typically gorgeous foil to the super-spy James Bond, Agent 007, in the movie ‘Moonraker’ (1979).
‘Please Come Home for Christmas’ (US no. 18, UK no. 30, AUS no. 46) is a stand-alone single by The Eagles released on 27 November 1978. This is a cover version of a 1960 blues song by Charles Brown. Accordingly, this festive season piece has an old-time feel to it. Lead vocals are supplied by Eagles drummer Don Henley. ‘Please Come Home For Christmas’ is the first song released by The Eagles that includes new bassist Timothy B. Schmit. The single is produced by The Eagles’ usual record producer, Bill Szymczyk.
A new Eagles album, ‘The Long Run’ (1979) (US no. 1, UK no. 4, AUS no. 1), is released on 24 September. This does not include the earlier single ‘Please Come Home For Christmas’. ‘The Long Run’ is a rock music album; there is no discernible trace of country music left in The Eagles’ sound. Recording sessions for this album began in 1977 and continued for eighteen months, with sessions taking place in five different recording studios. ‘The Long Run’ was originally intended to be a double album but, because the band couldn’t come up with enough songs, it is released as a single disc. “We were collectively in a pretty dark place,” admits vocalist and drummer Don Henley. “[My] favourite studio experience…would be ‘Hotel California’…My least favourite time was the recording of ‘The Long Run’.” The first single from ‘The Long Run’ is the party anthem ‘Heartache Tonight’ (US no. 1, UK no. 40, AUS no. 13). Guitarist Glenn Frey provides the lead vocal: “Somebody’s gonna hurt someone / Before the night is through / Somebody’s gonna come undone / There’s nothing we can do.” Frey co-writes ‘Heartache Tonight’ with Don Henley and two of Frey’s co-conspirators from the past, J.D. Souther and Bob Seger. The song begins life in a jam session with Frey and Souther. During the writing, Frey phones his old buddy Bob Seger (now a major rock star in his own right) and Seger blurts out the chorus (“There’s gonna be a heartache tonight…”). Musically, the song opens with a series of bass drum thumps recorded in typically laborious fashion. To get the sound, Henley whacked with a mallet a gigantic bass drum, seven or eight feet in diameter. ‘Heartache Tonight’ is The Eagles’ fifth (and final) U.S. no. 1 single. It tops the chart for one week on 10 November 1979. This means that it is a five-way tie for The Eagles’ biggest U.S. hit since ‘Best Of My Love’, ‘One Of These Nights’, ‘New Kid In Town’, ‘Hotel California’ and ‘Heartache Tonight’ all reach no. 1 and each of them holds that spot for only one week. It’s a more clear-cut story in Australia where ‘Heartache Tonight’ charts higher than any other Eagles single. On the title track, ‘The Long Run’ (US no. 8, UK no. 66), The Eagles look around and are a little surprised to find themselves last men standing from their peer group. Don Henley sings, “I used to hurry a lot / I used to worry a lot / I used to stay out ‘til the break of day / All that didn’t get it / It was high time I quit it / I just couldn’t carry on that way / Oh, I did some damage, I know it’s true.” According to Henley, ‘The Long Run’ is partly written in response to people claiming the band is passé – but also because he is aware the group is falling apart. Although ‘The Long Run’ is unquestionably a rock song, it also has a bit of soul or rhythm and blues in its musical content. Some point out a similarity between ‘The Long Run’ and Otis Clay’s 1972 soul song ‘Tryin’ To Live My Life Without You’. New bassist Timothy B. Schmit provides the feathery lead vocal on the doleful and bruised ballad ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ (US no. 8). Schmit came up with the basics for the song and Glenn Frey and Don Henley earn co-songwriting credits for helping complete the composition. Frey wanted the song to have a rhythm and blues feel. ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ is “loosely based on my own experiences,” says Schmit. Unusually, it is Glenn Frey who plays the lead guitar part on this song. The band’s other guitarists defer to Frey on this occasion; Joe Walsh plays keyboards instead while Don Felder confines himself to the rhythm guitar part. Joe Walsh is featured on ‘In The City’, which Walsh co-writes with Barry De Vorzon. It was first recorded by Joe Walsh as a solo act for the soundtrack of the movie ‘The Warriors’ (1979), a movie that came out on 9 February. Don Felder shares a songwriting credit with Henley and Frey on ‘The Disco Strangler’ (sung by Henley). ‘The Greeks Don’t Want No Freaks’ is a goofy oddity which also features Henley on lead vocals. The album concludes with the slow and nostalgic ‘The Sad Café’. Vocalist Don Henley points out that the song’s inspiration was The Eagles’ old haunts ‘The Troubadour’ and Dan Tana’s restaurant. ‘The Sad Café’ is co-written by Henley, Frey, Walsh and J.D. Souther. The saxophone solo on this track is played by David Sanborn.
On 21 December 1979 The Eagles play a benefit concert at the San Diego Sports Arena to raise funds for the (unsuccessful) Presidential campaign by California governor Jerry Brown. Linda Ronstadt and Chicago are also on the bill for the show. At the time, Jerry Brown is also Linda Ronstadt’s boyfriend.
In April 1980 Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh marries his third wife, Juanita ‘Jody’ Boyer. The couple go on to have a daughter, Lucy (born on 3 December 1982).
In 1980 Joe Walsh makes a joke of running for the office of President of the U.S.A. His platform is free gas (i.e. petrol) for everyone. With tongue-in-cheek, Walsh adds that, if elected, the national anthem will be changed to his 1978 hit ‘Life’s Been Good’.
The Eagles appear on Bob Seger’s album ‘Against The Wind’ (1980) (U.S. no. 1, UK no. 26). The group provide backing vocals on ‘Fire Lake’ (US no. 6) and guitarist Glenn Frey also lends his backing vocals to the title track, ‘Against The Wind’ (US no. 5).
The Eagles go on a concert tour of the U.S. in 1980. During this tour, according to drummer Don Henley, guitarist Don Felder seeks to gain more control within the band. He allegedly tries to form an alliance with fellow guitarist Joe Walsh against the band’s perceived leaders, Henley and guitarist Glenn Frey. This tension spills over into outright animosity on 31 July 1980 when The Eagles play a concert in Long Beach, California, for Democrat Senator Alan Cranston. Frey feels Felder is rude to the senator and this causes a big argument between Frey and Felder. This leads directly to the end of The Eagles. “We were growing apart musically and philosophically and every other way you could imagine,” explains Don Henley.
‘Eagles Live’ (1980) (US no. 6, UK no. 4, AUS no. 3) is a concert double album released on 7 November. Some tracks on this set were recorded on 20 October 1976 on the ‘Hotel California’ tour with the rest hailing from ‘The Long Run’ tour – including a week-long series of shows at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium – that concluded on 31 July 1980. ‘Eagles Live’ spawns the single ‘Seven Bridges Road’ (US no. 21), an almost a capella rendition of Steve Young’s 1969 country music song.
On 21 November 1980 Eagles drummer Don Henley finds himself in trouble with the law. Henley has recently broken up with his girlfriend, Lois Chiles. Paramedics are called to Henley’s home. They find a naked 16 year old girl who claims she has overdosed on Quaaludes and cocaine. After treatment, this girl is arrested for prostitution. Also found in the house is a 15 year old girl who is arrested for being under the influence of drugs. Don Henley is charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He is fined and put on probation.
By the end of 1980 The Eagles are inactive. Despite this, the break-up of the band is not officially announced until May 1982. For the purpose of this narrative, it seems more fitting to consider The Eagles to have parted ways in 1980…though this will eventually be seen as a (lengthy) temporary break rather than a final dissolution.
Former Eagles vocalist and guitarist Glenn Frey embarks on a solo career. Frey releases the following albums: ‘No Fun Aloud’ (1982) (US no. 32), ‘The Allnighter’ (1984) (US no. 22), ‘Soul Searchin’’ (1988) (US no. 36), ‘Strange Weather’ (1992) and ‘Glenn Frey Live’ (1993). In the same period, the following Glenn Frey singles make it to the charts: ‘I Found Somebody’ (US no. 31, AUS no. 93), ‘The One That You Love’ (US no. 15, AUS no. 50) and ‘All Those Lies’ (US no. 41) [all three of these come from ‘No Fun Aloud’]; ‘Sexy Girl’ (US no. 20, UK no. 81, AUS no. 76) and ‘The Allnighter’ (US no. 54) [both from ‘The Allnighter’]; the 1984 single ‘The Heat Is On’ (US no. 2, UK no. 12, AUS no. 2) [from the soundtrack to the movie ‘Beverly Hills Cop’]; ‘Smuggler’s Blues’ (US no. 12, UK no. 22) [appears on both ‘The Allnighter’ and the soundtrack to the television show ‘Miami Vice’]; ‘You Belong To The City’ (US no. 2, UK no. 94, AUS no. 20), a 1985 single [from the ‘Miami Vice’ soundtrack]; ‘True Love’ (US no. 13, UK no. 84, AUS no. 49) and ‘Livin’ Right’ (US no. 90) [both from ‘Soul Searchin’’]; and ‘I’ve Got Mine’ (US no. 91) [from ‘Strange Weather’]. Compared to his work with The Eagles, Glenn Frey’s solo recordings have a stronger soul and rhythm and blues influence.
Glenn Frey also fosters an acting career. He has roles in: the television series ‘Miami Vice’ (1985), the movie ‘Let’s Get Harry’ (1986), the television series ‘Wiseguy’ (1989) and the television program ‘South of Sunset’ (1993). Glenn Frey is actually the star of ‘South of Sunset’ – but it is cancelled after just one episode.
In 1982 Glenn Frey gets together with artist Janie Beggs. They marry on 17 June 1983 and divorce in 1988. In 1988 Frey begins dating dancer and choreographer Cindy Millican. They meet when Frey is making a music video. Glenn Frey marries Cindy Millican on 30 June 1990. Glenn and Cindy have three children: a daughter named Taylor (born in 1991) and two sons, Deacon (born in 1993) and Otis (born in 2002).
In the mid-1980s Glenn Frey goes through a self-administered detox program.
Former Eagles vocalist and drummer Don Henley also takes up a solo career. Henley releases the following albums: ‘I Can’t Stand Still’ (1982) (US no. 24, UK no. 24, AUS no. 42), ‘Building The Perfect Beast’ (1984) (US no. 13, UK no. 14, AUS no. 4) and ‘The End Of The Innocence’ (1989) (US no. 8, UK no. 17, AUS no. 40). In the same period, the following Don Henley singles make it to the charts: 1981’s duet with Stevie Nicks on ‘Leather And Lace’ (US no. 6) [from Nicks’ album ‘Bella Donna’]; ‘Johnny Can’t Read’ (US no. 42), ‘Dirty Laundry’ (US no. 3, UK no. 59) and ‘I Can’t Stand Still’ (US no. 48) [all three of these come from ‘I Can’t Stand Still’]; ‘The Boys Of Summer’ (US no. 5), ‘All She Wants To Do Is Dance’ (US no. 9), ‘Not Enough Love In The World’ (US no. 34) and ‘Sunset Grill’ (US no. 22) [all four of these come from ‘Building The Perfect Beast’]; ‘The End Of The Innocence’ (US no. 8, UK no. 48),’The Last Worthless Evening’ (US no. 21), ‘The Heart Of The Matter’ (US no. 21), ‘How Bad Do You Want It’ (US no. 48) and ‘New York Minute’ (US no. 48, UK no. 97) [all five of these come from ‘The End Of The Innocence’]; and the 1992 duet with Patty Smyth ‘Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough’ (US no. 2, UK no. 22) [from the album ‘Patty Smyth’]. Don Henley’s solo work is probably closer to his Eagles’ songs than is the case with former co-writer Glenn Frey. Henley generally mixes rock and ballads – but not so much in the way of country music in this period. Don Henley ‘achieves arguably the greatest commercial success of any former Eagle.’
Don Henley is in a romantic relationship with U.S. actress Maren Jensen (born on 23 September 1956) from 1982 to 1986. In 1987 Henley is briefly involved with Dana Delany (born on 13 March 1956), another U.S. actress. In 1991-1992 Don Henley dates Patty Smyth (born on 26 June 1957). She is the singer with whom he duets on ‘Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough’. Patty Smyth was the vocalist for 1980s U.S. rock band Scandal and should not be confused with the punk rock singer and poet Patti Smith.
After leaving The Eagles in September 1977 (roughly three years before the group breaks up), bassist and vocalist Randy Meisner undertakes a solo career. He releases the solo albums ‘Randy Meisner’ (1978), ‘One More Song’ (1980) (US no. 50) and ‘Randy Meisner’ (1982) (US no. 94) – which is a different album to his 1978 release, although they share the same title. The 1978 album includes ‘Bad Man’, a track co-written by Meisner with Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther. ‘Deep Inside My Heart’ (US no. 22) (a duet with Kim Carnes) and ‘Hearts On Fire’ (US no. 19) are the singles from ‘One More Song’ while ‘Never Been In Love’ (US no. 28) – Meisner’s final charting single – comes from his final charting album, ‘Randy Meisner’ (1982). In the early 1980s the bassist tours under the banner of Randy Meisner & The Silverados. The 1981 line-up is: Randy Meisner (vocals), Todd Smith (guitar), Sterling Smith (keyboards), Greg Palmer (bass), Don Francisco (percussion, backing vocals) and Therese Heston (backing vocals). The 1982 line-up is: Randy Meisner (vocals), Howard Leese (guitar) [from Heart], John Corey (guitar), Sterling Smith (keyboards), Dixon House (keyboards), Tom Erak (bass) and Denny Carmassi (drums) [from Heart]. Next, Randy Meisner is involved with Black Tie. This low-key supergroup consists of: Randy Meisner (vocals, bass) [from The Eagles], Jimmy Griffin (guitar) [from Bread], Blondie Chaplin (guitar) [from The Beach Boys] and Billy Swan (vocals, keyboards) [from a 1970s solo career including the hit ‘I Can Help’]. Fellow former Eagle Bernie Leadon replaces Blondie Chaplin in 1986. From 1987 to 1989 Randy Meisner tours with Rick Roberts [from country rock band Firefall] as The Roberts-Meisner Band. The five original members of Poco – including Randy Meisner – reunite for a 1989-1990 tour and the album ‘Legacy’ (1989) (US no. 40). Black Tie belatedly releases the album ‘When The Night Falls’ (1991).
Randy Meisner and his wife Jennifer Barton divorce in 1981. Meisner claims that one of the main reasons for the failure of the marriage is his ‘periodic alcohol and drug addictions since the late 1960s, especially during his tenure with The Eagles.’
Guitarist Bernie Leadon was the last to join the original line-up of The Eagles in 1971 and became the first to leave the group in 1975. Leadon is co-credited with Michael Georgiades on ‘Natural Progressions’ (1977). ‘Ever Call Ready’ (1985) is a one-shot band in which Bernie Leadon works with Chris Hillman [from The Byrds], David Mansfield, Al Perkins and Jerry Scheff. In 1986 Leadon briefly teams with fellow ex-Eagle Randy Meisner in Black Tie.
Probably at some time in the late 1970s, Bernie Leadon marries a woman named Caroline. They have a son, Ian (born in 1980). Bernie and Caroline’s marriage later ends in divorce.
Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder mainly occupies himself as a session musician after The Eagles break-up in 1980. Felder releases one solo album, ‘Airborne’ (1983).
Former Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh picks up his solo career again after The Eagles part ways in 1980. Walsh releases the albums ‘There Goes The Neighbourhood’ (1981) (US no. 20) and ‘You Bought It – You Name It’ (1983) (US no. 48). In 1984 Joe Walsh goes to Australia to perform with the casual Australian supergroup The Party Boys. He tours with them through 1984-1985 and appears on their album ‘You Need Professional Help’ (1985) (AUS no. 96). Walsh returns to the U.S.A. and releases the following solo albums: ‘The Confessor’ (1985) (US no. 65), ‘Got Any Gum?’ (1987) (US no. 113), ‘Ordinary Average Guy’ (1991) (US no. 112) and ‘Songs For A Dying Planet’ (1992).
From 1983 to 1986 Joe Walsh is romantically involved with Stevie Nicks (from Fleetwood Mac). Nicks previously had an on-and-off relationship with Walsh’s fellow Eagle Don Henley in 1975-1978.
Joe Walsh’s marriage to his third wife, Juanita ‘Jody’ Boyer, comes to an end in 1988.
In 1992 Joe Walsh makes another comedic run for political office (after his 1980 campaign for President of the U.S.). This time, Walsh announces that he is running for the post of Vice-President. His platform this time is free toilet paper for everyone.
In 1993 Joe Walsh begins a recovery program, shaking off his long-time addictions to drugs and alcohol.
Former Eagles bassist Timothy B. Schmit starts a solo career. He releases the solo albums ‘Playin’ It Cool’ (1984) (US no. 160), ‘Timothy B’ (1987) (US no. 106) and ‘Tell Me The Truth’ (1990). The singles ‘So Much In Love’ (US no. 59) and ‘Playin’ It Cool’ (US no. 101) both come from the album ‘Playin’ It Cool’ while ‘Timothy B’ is home to the single ‘Boys Night Out’ (US no. 25).
Timothy B. Schmit marries his second wife, Jean Cromie, in 1983. Tim and Jean have two children: a daughter named Owen Faye (born in 1984) and a son named Ben (born in 1991).
During the years 1981 to 1994 The Eagles’ musical legacy is kept alive by a handful of compilation albums. ‘Eagles Greatest Hits Vol. 2’ (1982) (US no. 52, AUS no. 5) is a companion piece to ‘Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)’ (1976), this time chronicling the latter half of The Eagles’ career. A wider view of the group’s entire history is presented on ‘The Best Of The Eagles’ (1985) (UK no. 8, AUS no. 7), ‘The Legend Of The Eagles’ (1988) and the seventeen tracks on ‘The Very Best Of The Eagles’ (1994) (UK no. 4, AUS no. 2).
In 1990 Eagles leaders Glenn Frey and Don Henley begin writing some songs together again. In spring 1990 Frey and Henley are joined by guitarist Joe Walsh and bassist Timothy B. Schmit for benefit concerts. A full-scale reunion of The Eagles is rumoured but does not eventuate at this time.
The Eagles reunion takes place in 1994. Those involved are the five members of the group’s last line-up before they split: Glenn Frey (vocals, guitar), Don Henley (vocals, drums), Don Felder (guitar), Joe Walsh (guitar, vocals) and Timothy B. Schmit (bass, vocals). Their first live performance is in April 1994. The quintet record a concert special for the cable television music channel MTV. The project is titled ‘Hell Freezes Over’. This is taken from Henley’s usual rejoinder to the recurring question of ‘When will The Eagles get back together?’ His response was, “When hell freezes over.” Glenn Frey announces, “For the record, we never broke up; we just took a fourteen-year vacation.”
‘Hell Freezes Over’ is broadcast in October 1994. A live album of the show, ‘Hell Freezes Over’ (1994) (US no. 1, UK no. 23, AUS no. 23), is released on 8 November. This disc is released by Geffen Records, the new label created by David Geffen, The Eagles’ first manager and the founder of their former label, Asylum. ‘Hell Freezes Over’ is not entirely devoted to nostalgia; it contains four new tracks as well. The hard rocker ‘Get Over It’ (US no. 31, AUS no. 74) targets self-pitying victims. It may not be politically correct, but it is admirably rough-edged. Drummer Don Henley is lead vocalist on this song which he co-writes with guitarist Glenn Frey. ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive’ (UK no. 52) is a gentle ballad with a lead vocal from bassist Timothy B. Schmit. ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive’ is co-written by Pete Vale, Jim Capaldi and Paul Carrack. Don Henley sings the meditative strum-along ‘Learn To Be Still’, which he co-writes with Stan Lynch. Rounding out the quartet is ‘The Girl From Yesterday’, co-written by Glenn Frey and Jack Tempchin.
The Eagles reunion is turned into a concert tour that runs from 1994 through to August 1996. The five members of The Eagles are augmented by John Corey (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals), Timothy Drury (keyboards, guitar, backing vocals), Al Garth (saxophone, violin) and Scott Crago (drums).
The tour is interrupted in September 1994 when vocalist and guitarist Glenn Frey suffers a bout of diverticulitis (a digestive disease which causes stomach pains).
Drummer Don Henley also has some health worries. At least as far back as 1979, Henley has been plagued by problems with his back. “I have a bad back partially from playing drums and singing. I used to have to hold my body in such a position that my spine got out of alignment,” he explains. Henley’s heyday with The Eagles predates headset microphones, so he had to move about to sing into a microphone on a boom arm while he also physically reached the various parts of the drum-kit. When The Eagles reunite in 1994, Henley plays drums live on a few songs but more often plays guitar or just sings. This is why drummer Scott Crago is part of the extended Eagles live group.
The Eagles do not officially break-up again, but periods of group activity are interspersed with solo work by the group’s members during the times when the band is dormant.
Eagles vocalist and guitarist Glenn Frey puts together the ‘Solo Collection’ (1995) (US no. 82) compilation album. As an actor, Frey appears in the movie ‘Jerry Maguire’ (1996) and the television series ‘Nash Bridges’ (1997).
On 20 May 1995 Eagles vocalist and drummer Don Henley marries Sharon Summerall. She is a former model from Texas who has lived in Paris, France, and studied art history. Sharon Summerall was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis before she met Don. She has kept this debilitating condition at bay through prescribed medication. Don and Sharon have three children: Julie Annabel (born in 1995), Will (born in 1998) and Sophie (born in 2000). Don Henley also issues the compilation album ‘Actual Miles: Henley’s Greatest Hits’ (1995) (US no. 48) on 21 November.
Former Eagles bassist and vocalist Randy Meisner marries his second wife, Lana Rae Graham, in November 1996. The couple began living together shortly after Randy Meisner and his first wife, Jennifer Lee Barton, divorced in 1981 but it is not until 1996 that Randy and Lana wed. From 1997 to 2005 Randy Meisner is involved in the World Class Rockers touring group. This project has a rotating cast of players. Other musicians who appear with this act include Denny Laine (from Wings), Howard Leese (from Heart) and Aynsley Dunbar (from Jefferson Airplane).
Former Eagles guitarist Bernie Leadon maintains a low profile in the period 1994-1997. Current Eagles Don Felder (guitar), Joe Walsh (guitar) and Timothy B. Schmit (bass) are also quiet during this time.
In January 1998 The Eagles are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The honour is extended to all seven of the men who have officially been members of The Eagles during the group’s history: Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. On the occasion, they take to the stage and play both ‘Take It Easy’ and ‘Hotel California’.
In 1998 Don Henley’s 1984 solo hit ‘The Boys Of Summer’ (UK no. 12) is rereleased in the U.K.
On 15 May 1999 Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh marries his fourth wife, Denise Driscoll. They have two sons: Alden (born in 1996) and Emerson (born in 1999).
The marriage between Eagles guitarist Don Felder and Susan Pickersgill comes to an end in 1999.
The five Eagles – Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Don Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit – reconvene for concerts at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on 28-29 December 1999. This is followed on 31 December 1999 with a show at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Eagles vocalist and guitarist Glenn Frey releases the album ‘20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection’ (2000). This is a compilation of his solo work. In addition, Frey appears in the television series ‘Arliss’ (2000). Also in 2000, Frey is diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis and begins taking medication to alleviate the pain in his joints caused by the arthritis.
Eagles vocalist and drummer Don Henley releases a new solo album, ‘Inside Job’ (2000) (US no. 7, UK no. 25). This set includes Henley’s last solo single to make the charts, ‘Taking You Home’ (US no. 58).
‘Selected Works 1972-1999’ (2000) (US no. 109, UK no. 28, AUS no. 11), released on 14 November by Asylum, is a four disc set by The Eagles. It is divided into: (1) Early Days, (2) Ballads, (3) The Fast Lane and (4) The Millennium Concert (A Night to Remember). The last named disc is a concert recording of The Eagles gig at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on 31 December 1999.
Former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner takes part in a reunion of his pre-Eagles band The Drivin’ Dynamics in 2000 for their induction into the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame.
On 6 February 2001 guitarist Don Felder is fired from The Eagles. Felder files a lawsuit for wrongful termination. Felder refers to Eagles leaders Glenn Frey and Don Henley as ‘the gods.’ Felder says, “I find it ironic that a band with a name that stands for freedom is ruled with iron fists.” Don Henley observes that, “At some point Mr Felder decided that Glenn and I shouldn’t be the ones running the band.” A long running legal battle ensues before the matter is settled out of court on 8 May 2007.
The Eagles continue as a four-piece band. Guitarist Don Felder is not replaced. When touring in 2001, the band’s four official members are augmented by: Steuart Smith (guitar, mandolin, keyboards, backing vocals), Michael Thompson (keyboards, trombone), Will Hollis (keyboards, backing vocals), Bill Armstrong (horns), Al Garth (saxophone, violin), Christian Mostert (saxophone), Greg Smith (saxophone, percussion) and Scott Crago (drums, percussion).
Warner Bros. issues the compilation album ‘The Very Best Of The Eagles’ (2001) (UK no. 3, AUS no. 11).
Eagles bassist Timothy B. Schmit issues the solo album ‘Feed The Fire’ (2001). Former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner releases ‘Meisner, Swan & Rich’ (2001). This album sees Meisner join forces with vocalist and keyboardist Billy Swan (who worked with Meisner in Black Tie in the 1980s) and Charlie Rich, Jr. (guitar). The following year, Meisner issues the solo album ‘Dallas’ (2002).
On 15 July 2003 The Eagles release a single called ‘Hole In The World’ (US no. 69, UK no. 69). This is inspired by the terrorist attack on New York on 11 September 2001. Don Henley is lead vocalist on ‘Hole In The World’. The backing is simple, with the emphasis placed on the group’s harmonies lending the song a semi-religious atmosphere. ‘Hole In The World’ is co-produced by The Eagles and Bill Szymczyk. This new track is included on the Warner Bros. two disc compilation set ‘The Very Best Of The Eagles / The Complete Greatest Hits’ (2003) (US no. 3, UK no. 9, AUS no. 10), released on 21 October.
Former Eagles guitarist Bernie Leadon releases his only solo album, ‘Mirror’ (2004).
Former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner is hospitalised in August 2004 due to ‘severe chest pains.’ This has also been described as a ‘minor heart attack.’ After this health scare, Meisner cuts back on his touring schedule. He releases his final solo album, ‘Love Me Or Leave Me Alone’ (2005), the next year.
Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder tours with The Don Felder Band from 2005 to 2014.
On 15 March Warner Bros. issues ‘Eagles’ (2005), a box set of the group’s work. It encompasses the six studio albums from ‘Eagles’ (1972) through to ‘The Long Run’ (1979) as well as ‘Eagles Live’ (1980) and a bonus single of ‘Please Come Home For Christmas’ from 1978.
On 14 June 2005 The Eagles release a two DVD set titled ‘Farewell 1 Tour – Live from Melbourne’. This includes two new songs. Glenn Frey’s ‘No More Cloudy Days’ is released as a (non-charting) single. It is a romantic, acoustic piece that suggests love can be reborn. The other new song is Joe Walsh’s ‘One Day At A Time’. A 2006 reissue of the DVD sold exclusively through Walmart stores adds a bonus audio disc with three songs: a studio version of ‘No More Cloudy Days’, the rocker ‘Fast Company’ and a ballad (co-written by Don Henley, bassist Timothy B. Schmit and touring guitarist Steuart Smith) called ‘Do Something’.
The marriage between Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh and Denise Driscoll comes to an end in 2006.
In 2006 Joe Walsh participates in a brief reunion of his pre-Eagles group The James Gang. The others involved are Dale Peters (bass) and Jim Fox (drums). In other words, it is a reunion of the version of The James Gang that recorded ‘James Gang Rides Again’ (1970) and ‘Thirds’ (1971).
On 20 August 2007 The Eagles release a single called ‘How Long’ (US no. 101, UK no. 110). This rockabilly number is a cover version of a song by The Eagles’ long-time associate J.D. Souther. It first appeared on his debut solo album, ‘John David Souther’ (1972). The Eagles have been performing ‘How Long’ in their live show since the mid-1970s. Glenn Frey sings the first and third verses, Don Henley sings the second verse and the pair swap lines as the song fades out. ‘How Long’ is described as an ‘anti-war protest.’ It is also the last Eagles single to reach the popular sales chart.
‘Long Road Out Of Eden’ (2007) (US no. 1, UK no. 1, AUS no. 1) is a new Eagles album released on 30 October. In the United States this disc comes out on the ERC label (Eagles Recording Company) and, for the first year, is only available via the band’s website or in Walmart or Sam’s Club stores. In foreign territories it is released through the usual, more conventional, channels. Production duties on this disc are shared by The Eagles, Bill Szymczyk, Richard F.W. Davis and two members of The Eagles extended tour group, guitarist Steuart Smith and drummer Scott Crago. ‘Long Road Out Of Eden’ is put together over six years and is the first new Eagles studio album since ‘The Long Run’ (1979). It is a two CD set but all the most notable songs comes from the first disc. Prior singles ‘No More Cloudy Days’ and ‘How Long’ are both included on this album. ‘Busy Being Fabulous’ has a lead vocal from drummer Don Henley and is an attack on social climbers. Despite that aggressive lyrical stance, musically it is a gentle rocker. ‘What Do I Do With My Heart’ features vocalist and guitarist Glenn Frey with vocal support from Henley. The song is a plaintive ballad. ‘I Don’t Want To Hear Any More’ is a smooth song about love falling apart. The lead vocal for this track comes from bassist Timothy B. Schmit. ‘I Don’t Want To Hear Any More’ is written by Englishman Paul Carrack who was previously a member of such acts as Ace, U.K. Squeeze and Mike And The Mechanics. Carrack also co-wrote ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive’ on The Eagles’ reunion album ‘Hell Freezes Over’ (1994). Paul Carrack recorded his own version of ‘I Don’t Want To Hear Any More’ on his solo album ‘I Know That Name’ (2007). He gave Timothy B. Schmit a cassette of the song when Schmit was in England. Speaking about ‘Long Road Out Of Eden’, Don Henley says, “This is probably the last Eagles album that we’ll ever make.”
A world concert tour by The Eagles to promote ‘Long Road Out Of Eden’ kicks off on 20 March 2008 at the O2 Arena in London, England. It moves on to the U.S.A. where the final gig of that leg of the tour is on 9 May 2009 at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah. The tour winds up completely in Europe with the final show taking place in Lisbon, Portugal, on 22 July 2009.
Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder writes an autobiography, ‘Heaven and Hell: My Life in The Eagles (1974-2001)’ (2008). The book is published by John Wiley & Sons Inc. / Hyperion. Felder claims that he “wasn’t out to hang people’s heads for the whole community to see. That wasn’t the point of the book. The point was to tell my story.” Don Felder says that he is still friends with fellow ex-Eagles Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner but only talks to Don Henley and Glenn Frey via their attorneys.
Don Felder and his partner Kathrin becomes the parents of a son, Nicholas (born in 2008).
In September 2008 Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh announces his engagement to Marjorie Bach. The couple have been dating since November 2007. On 13 December 2008 Marjorie Bach becomes Joe Walsh’s fifth wife. Marjorie Bach is the sister of actress Barbara Bach, who is married to Ringo Starr (the former drummer of The Beatles).
Eagles vocalist and drummer Don Henley issues a compilation of his solo recordings, ‘The Very Best Of Don Henley’ (2009) (UK no. 29). Eagles bassist Timothy B. Schmit releases a new solo album, ‘Expando’ (2009), named after the brand of mobile trailer home his parents owned when Schmit was a child.
In summer 2010 The Eagles go on tour in the U.S., playing stadium shows. Also on the bill on these dates are The Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban.
On 1 July 2011 The Eagles play at the Hop Farm Festival in England.
Eagles vocalist and guitarist Glenn Frey releases his final solo album, ‘After Hours’ (2012) (US no. 116). Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh issues a solo album, ‘Analog Man’ (2012) (US no. 12, UK no. 53), his first new solo work since 1992. Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder puts out his second solo album, ‘Road To Forever’ (2012). His previous solo album was released in 1983.
The television documentary ‘History of The Eagles’ is screened in February 2013. The band supports this with eleven U.S. arena concerts in July 2013. Further international concert dates to promote ‘History of The Eagles’ continue up to July 2015. Former Eagles guitarist Bernie Leadon appears with the group in some of these shows in recognition of his role in the band’s history. Former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner is also invited to take part in these shows but Meisner declines because of ‘health issues.’ Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder is not asked to participate.
On 25 March, Rhino and Warner Bros. release a box set of Eagles recordings, ‘The Studio Albums 1972-1979’ (2013).
In March 2013 former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner loses consciousness after a piece of food obstructs his breathing. He spends some time in a coma, but recovers. It is this incident that causes Meisner to decide he is not well enough to participate in the ‘History of The Eagles’ concerts.
Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh releases ‘All Night Long: Live In Dallas (1981)’ (2014), a concert recording that dates back over thirty years.
In April 2015 former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner has some problems with his wife, Lana Rae Graham. Meisner reportedly threatens murder-suicide by an AK-47 rifle. Earlier in the year, Meisner had been diagnosed as bipolar and was hospitalised for a time due to his mental illness.
Eagles vocalist and drummer Don Henley issues a new solo album, ‘Cass County’ (2015) (US no. 3, UK no. 7, AUS no. 23).
In November 2015 Eagles vocalist and guitarist Glenn Frey undergoes surgery for intestinal problems. Frey has struggled with rheumatoid arthritis since 2000. The medication Frey has been taking for this condition has led to him developing colitis (an inflammation of the colon) and pneumonia. After the surgery, Glenn Frey is put in a medically-induced coma. Glenn Frey passes away on 18 January 2016 as a result of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia while recovering from surgery on his gastro-intestinal tract. He was 67 years old. Glenn Frey is survived by his wife Cindy Millican and their children, Taylor, Deacon and Otis.
The Eagles perform at the fifty-eighth Grammy Awards in February 2016. The surviving members – Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit – are joined for this performance by former Eagles guitarist Bernie Leadon, touring guitarist Steuart Smith and Jackson Browne. They perform ‘Take It Easy’, The Eagles’ first single which was co-written by Browne and the late Glenn Frey.
In March 2016 police are summoned to a ‘domestic incident’ at the home of former Eagles bassist Randy Meisner and his wife, Lana Rae Graham. Satisfied that the situation is under control, the police depart. Ninety minutes later, Lana Rae Graham accidentally shoots and kills herself. It is found that Randy Meisner was not involved in the death, but he is placed in temporary psychiatric care due to a threat of suicide and ‘mental issues.’
A statue of Glenn Frey, the late vocalist and guitarist with The Eagles, is unveiled on 24 September 2016 at Standing on the Corner Park in Winslow, Arizona. This celebrates the line from The Eagles’ 1972 debut single ‘Take It Easy’ (co-written by Frey): “Well, I’m standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona…”
Eagles bassist Timothy B. Schmit releases a new solo album, ‘Leap Of Faith’ (2016).
In July 2017 The Eagles play the Classic West and Classic East concerts. In these shows, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit are joined by Deacon Frey (the son of the late Glenn Frey) and country music artist Vince Gill. The West show on 15 July 2017 also includes a guest appearance by Bob Seger who sings ‘Heartache Tonight’, the 1979 Eagles hit that Seger co-wrote.
A U.S. Eagles tour for March to July 2018 is announced with Deacon Frey and Vince Gill continuing to supplement the group.
The Eagles was built on the founding partnership of vocalist and guitarist Glenn Frey and vocalist and drummer Don Henley. “Rock bands work best as a benevolent dictatorship,” Henley has said. He and Frey were the ‘dictators’ in The Eagles. In the early days, the duo even shared an apartment. “We were like ‘The Odd Couple’,” claimed Henley. This is a reference to Neil Simon’s 1965 stage-play (later to become a movie in 1968 and a television series in 1970-1975) about a messy slob who shares an apartment with a fussy neat-freak. “He [Frey] would make a mess and I would clean up after him,” says Henley. The drummer added, “I was more reserved and introverted.” Frey and Henley may have been very different individuals, but their talents complemented each other. They shared a strong sense of ambition and a painstaking attitude to their finished work. Frey and Henley – along with bassists Randy Meisner and Timothy B. Schmit, guitarists Bernie Leadon, Don Felder and Joe Walsh – made The Eagles ‘one of the world’s best-selling bands.’ The Eagles were ‘the defining sound of mid-1970s America’ but also had ‘a perennial appeal among generations of music fans.’
- ‘Friday On My Mind’ by Ed Nimmervoll (Five Mile Press, 2004) p. 94, 106
- wikipedia.org as at 6 December 2017
- allmusic.com, ‘The Eagles’ by William Ruhlmann as at 2 November 2001
- Internet Music Database – imdb.com – as at 12 December 2017
- freep.com – ‘Detroit Free Press’ – ‘Glenn Frey Details Detroit Days in Free Press Interview’ by Brian McCollum (19 January 2016)
- google search as at 10 December 2017 [for the names of the parents of Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmit]
- ‘The Daily Telegraph’ – ‘Glenn Frey – Obituary’ – no author credited (19 January 2016) (reproduced on telegraph.co.uk)
- brainyquote.com as at 10 December 2017
- ‘Rock Stars’ by Timothy White, ‘Bob Seger’ (Columbus Books, 1983) p. 219
- whosdatedwho.com as at 10 December 2017
- ‘The Illustrated New Musical Express Encyclopedia of Rock’ by Nick Logan, Bob Woffinden (Salamander Books, 1978) p. 56, 67, 73, 116, 239
- donhenleyonline.com as at 10 December 2017
- biography.com – ‘Don Henley’ by biography.com.editors as at 10 December 2017
- ultimateclassicrock.com – ’10 Things You Didn’t Know About Don Henley’ by Matt Wardlaw (22 July 2011)
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) – ‘The Eagles: Hell is for Heroes’ – interviews conducted by Charles M. Young (29 November 1979) (reproduced on rollingstone.com)
- discogs.com as at 15 December 2017 [Shiloh information]
- ‘The Illustrated Rock Handbook’ edited by Roxanne Streeter, Ray Bonds (Salamander Books, 1983) p. 53, 111, 165, 181
- names.org as at 10 December 2017 [for pronunciation of Meisner]
- ‘Classic Rock’ – ‘Eagles First Bassist Likes Life out of the Limelight’ – no author credited (1 January 2008?) via 2 (above) [Randy Meisner]
- eaglesonlinecentral.com – Posting from ‘Whitcap’ (28 June 2010) [information on Bernie Leadon’s father and siblings]
- ‘Rolling Stone Rock Almanac’ by the Editors of ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (Papermac, 1984) p. 165, 218, 227, 240, 243, 245, 267, 270, 304, 305
- ‘Rock of Ages’ – Bernie Leadon interview – no author credited (2004) (reproduced on users.skynet.be)
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) – ‘Eagles Peaceful Uneasy Feeling’ – interview conducted by Charles M. Young (29 May 2008) (reproduced on rollingstone.com)
- ‘Crawdaddy’ (U.S. rock magazine) – Eagles interview conducted by David Rensin (1974) (reproduced on theguardian.com as ‘Eagles: We Were Too Busy Trying to Find a Good Restaurant – A Classic Interview from the Vaults’ on 24 September 2015)
- ‘The 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time’, ‘Rolling Stone’ magazine (February 2004) p. 42, 67
- rollingstone.com – ‘Eagles’ Complete Discography: Don Henley Looks Back’ – interview conducted by David Browne (10 June 2016)
- ‘The Uncool’ (Cameron Crowe’s website) – ‘Conversation with Don Henley + Glenn Frey’ by Cameron Crowe via 2 (above) [‘Witchy Woman’ song, ‘One Of These Nights’ LP, ‘Hotel California’ song]
- ‘Los Angeles Times’ (Los Angeles, U.S.A., newspaper) – ‘The Eagles – A Long Run is Over’ – Don Henley interview conducted by Robert Hilburn (23 May 1982) via 2 (above) [‘Desperado’ LP]
- ethnicelebs.com by ‘Andrew’ (12 July 2016) [Information on Don Felder’s parents and family background]
- donfelderonline.com as at 18 December 2017
- eaglesonlinecentral.com – Posting by ‘Sodascouts’ (4 July 2013) [Information on children of The Eagles]
- glennfreyonline.com – ‘Liner Notes’ via 2 (above) [‘Best Of My Love’ song]
- ‘Super Seventies’ – Glenn Frey interview – no author credited, no date given – via 2 (above) [‘One Of These Nights’ song]
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) – ‘Eagles Fly High with Disco “Night”’ – interview with Glenn Frey and Don Henley conducted by Paul Gambaccini (28 August 1976) via 2 (above) [‘One Of These Nights’ song]
- ‘The Very Best Of The Eagles’ – Liner notes by Glenn Frey and Don Henley (Warner Bros., 2003) via 2 (above) [‘One Of These Nights’ song, ‘New Kid In Town’ song]
- ‘Daily Telegraph’ (U.K. newspaper) – ’10 Best Known Glenn Frey and Eagles Songs’ by Martin Chilton (19 January 2016) via 2 (above) [‘Lyin’ Eyes’ song]
- ‘To the Limit: The Untold Story of The Eagles’ by Marc Eliot (Da Capo Press, 2004) p. 131 via 2 (above) [‘One Of These Nights’ LP]
- ‘History of The Eagles’ (2013) documentary movie – via 2 (above) [‘Take It To The Limit’ song, ‘Hotel California’ song]
- ‘Rolling Stone’ (U.S. rock magazine) ‘Eagles Tour: Guitarist Bernie Leadon will Reunite’ – Bernie Leadon interview by Andy Greene (5 July 2013) via 2 (above) [Bernie Leadon]
- wikitree.com as at 20 December 2017 [information on Joe Walsh’s parents]
- medium.com – ‘Joe Walsh, Power Trio Pioneer’ by Brian Scott McKenzie (30 November 2015)
- ‘The Daily Telegraph’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘The Eagles Interview: Rock’s Become Very Shallow and Trite’ – conducted by Neil McCormick (19 January 2016)
- joewalshonline.com as at 11 December 2017
- ‘Rolling Stone: The Ultimate Guide to The Eagles’ (2016) p. 87 – via 2 (above) [‘Life In The Fast Lane’ song]
- ‘In the Studio with Redbeard’ (Dallas, Texas, U.S. radio show) via 44 (above) p. 87 [‘Life In The Fast Lane’ song]
- timothybschmitonline.com as at 10 December 2017
- rockcellarmagazine.com – ‘Timothy B. Schmit Takes a “Leap Of Faith” – The Interview’ by Ken Sharp (10 November 2016)
- sacrorockmuseum.org – Ron Floegel on Tim, Tom & Ron, The Contenders and The New Breed – as at 23 December 2017
- You Tube videos
- songfacts.com as at 10 June 2014 – via 2 (above) [‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ song]
- ‘Modern Drummer’ magazine – Don Henley interview (1989) (reproduced on effingham.net.)
- heavy.com – ‘Cindy Millican, Glen Frey’s Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know’ by Tom Cleary (27 December 2016)
- frostsnow.com as at 10 December 2017 [information on Don Henley’s wife, Sharon Summerall]
- ‘The Daily Mirror’ (U.K. newspaper) – ‘Eagles Week: Don Henley Looks Back on his Rock & Roll Days’ by Alan Palmer (17 March 2008) [Sharon Summerall diagnosed with multiple sclerosis before she married Don Henley]
- cbsnews.com ‘Court Battle after Death of Eagles Bassist’s Wife’ by Erin Donaghue (1 April 2016)
- eaglesonlinecentral.com – Posting by ‘Toonlass’ (31 May 2008) [information on Joe Walsh’s sons]
- azlyrics.com as at 10 December 2017 [songwriting credit for ‘Do Something’]
- songfacts.com as at 12 December 2017 [‘I Don’t Want To Hear Anymore’ song]
- CNN – ‘Don Henley: Let the Chips Fall Where They May’ – interview conducted by Denise Quan (19 November 2007) via 2 (above) [Eagles]
- ‘New York Daily News’ (New York, U.S.A., newspaper) – ‘The Eagle has Landed, Loudly. Don Felder Smiles about Supergroup Days but he has a Dark Story’ by Jim Farber (27 April 2008) via 2 (above0 [Don Felder]
- spin.com – ‘Wife of Eagles Cofounder Randy Meisner Shot Dead in Los Angeles Home’ by Brendan Carley (7 March 2016)
- ‘The Charlie Rose Show’ (U.S. television program, PBS Network) – Don Henley interview conducted by Charlie Rose (March 2001) via 2 (above) [Don Henley]
- ‘The History of Rock’ by Mark Paytress (Parragon Books, 2011) p. 139
Song lyrics copyright W.B. Music Corp. / Kicking Bear ASCAP with the following exceptions: ‘Hotel California’ (Fingers Music / Cass County Music / Red Cloud Music, ASCAP); ‘Take It Easy’ (W.B. Music Corp., ASCAP); ‘James Dean’ (no copyright information available); ‘New Kid In Town’ (Ice Age music, ASCAP); ‘Life In The Fast Lane’ (Cass County Music / Red Cloud Music / Wow & Flutter Music, ASCAP); ‘The Last Resort’ and ‘The Long Run’ (Cass County Music / Red Cloud Music, ASCAP); and ‘Heartache Tonight’ (Cass Country Music / Red Cloud Music / Gear Publishing Co. / Ice Age Music, ASCAP))
Last revised 14 January 2018