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In the Spotlight: The Eagles

By

In the Spotlight: The Eagles

The Eagles, 1976

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Formed:

1971 (Los Angeles, CA)

Styles:

Country-rock, Pop-rock, Classic Rock, Soft-rock, Country

Claims to fame:

  • The most popular American band of the '70s
  • Did more than any band to bring country music into the rock marketplace
  • The Eagles album Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) is the best-selling US album of all time
  • The Don Henley-Glenn Frey songwriting team is considered one of the decade's finest
  • Their chronicling of the decadent '70 Southern California lifestyle struck a chord with all Americans
  • Bridged the gap between country-rock, classic rock, and soft rock
  • Joe Walsh and Don Felder were two of the genre's finest guitarists
  • Members form a direct line of descent from country-rock pioneers Poco, Crosby Stills & Nash, Dillard & Clark and the Flying Burrito Brothers

The classic Eagles lineup:

Glenn Frey (born Glenn Lewis Frey, November 6, 1948, Detroit, MI) lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitar, lead guitar, slide guitar, piano, clavinet, keyboards, harmonica
Don Henley (born Donald Hugh Henley, July 22, 1947, Gilmer, TX): lead and backing vocals, drums, keyboards
Don Felder (born Donald William Felder, September 21, 1947; Gainesville, FL) lead and backing vocals, lead guitar, slide guitar, pedal steel guitar, organ (1974-1980; 1994-2001)
Bernie Leadon (born Bernard Mathew Leadon III, July 19, 1947, Minneapolis, MN): lead and backing vocals, lead guitar, rhythm guitar, pedal steel guitar, dobro, banjo, mandolin (1971-1975)
Randy Meisner (born Randy Herman Meisner, March 8, 1946, Scottsbluff, NE): lead and backing vocals, bass, rhythm guitar, guitarron (1971-1977)
Joe Walsh (born Joseph Fidler Walsh, November 20, 1947, Wichita, KS): lead and backing vocals, lead guitar, piano, electric piano, organ, keyboards (1975-1980; 1994-present)
Timothy B. Schmit (born Timothy Bruce Schmit, October 30, 1947, Oakland, CA): lead and backing vocals, bass (1977-1980; 2007-present)

Early years:

The four original members of the Eagles came from different areas of the US in order to make their name playing country-rock in Los Angeles -- Leadon was with the Flying Burrito Brothers, Meisner was a member of Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band, Henley had formed a group called Shiloh, and Frey was part of a duo with J.D. Souther called Longbranch Pennywhistle. Henley and Frey were recruited to be part of a backing band for Linda Ronstadt, then just starting a solo career after leaving the Stone Poneys, and at one July 1971 gig at Disneyland, Leadon and Meisner sat in. When Ronstadt asked Frey to assemble musicians for her third album, titled simply Linda Ronstadt, he recruited Henley, Meisner, and Leadon; after the album was recorded. the four decided to form Eagles (sometimes called The Eagles).

Success:

Riding the wave of country-rock just then cresting on radio, Eagles was an immediate success, buoyed by two big singles, Henley's dark "Witchy Woman" and Frey's "Take It Easy," written with songwriter Jackson Browne. The second album, Desperado, established Henley and Frey as a major songwriting team; for their third, 1974's On The Border, session guitarist Don Felder was brought in to add solos, and so impressed the group that he soon became a permanent member. By that time, however, Leadon was ready to quit, decrying the band's turn from country-rock to pop-rock; he was replaced by former James Gang guitarist Joe Walsh. After recording their landmark Hotel California in 1976, Meisner left, worn down by the pressures of their fame.

Later years:

Timothy B. Schmit, who had replaced Meisner when he left Poco, now replaced him again. The band began recording their followup, The Long Run, in 1977, but internal pressures within the group dragged the sessions out for two years, by which time they were all at each other's throats; by the time the album came out in late '79, the band was history. Henley and Frey went on to very successful solo careers in the '80s, but refused constant offers to reunite until 1994, when Henley, Frey, Walsh< Schmidt, and Felder recorded four new songs for a live album puckishly called Hell Freezes Over. In 2007 the Eagles, once again without Leadon, released their first new album of material in 26 years, Long Road Out of Eden. The four continue to tour as the Eagles today.

Eagles honors and awards:

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1998)
  • GRAMNY Awards (1975, 1977, 1979, 2008, 2009)
  • Vocal Group Hall of Fame (2001)

Other Eagles facts and trivia:

  • David Geffen managed the band early on
  • Frey came up with the line "It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford" for Jackson Browne's "Take It Easy," then finished the rest of the song for him
  • At various times, the Eagles collaborated on songs with Browne, Souther, Bob Seger, Leadon's brother Tom, and Ronald Reagan's daughter Patti Davis
  • Henley and Frey can be heard singing background vocals on Randy Newman's 1974 album Good Old Boys, while Frey and Schmit sing backup on his controversial 1978 hit "Short People," and the band sings on Boz Scaggs' 1980 hit "Look What You've Done To Me"
  • The Eagles' 1975 instrumental "Journey of the Sorcerer" was used as the theme song for the BBC radio series Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
  • "Hotel California," an extended metaphor about the decadence of Los Angeles, has often been misinterpreted as a Satanic horror story by religious groups

The Eagles hit singles and albums:

#1 hits:
Pop:
  • "Best of My Love" (1974)
  • "One of These Nights" (1975)
  • "New Kid in Town" (1976)
  • "Hotel California" (1977)
  • "Heartache Tonight" (1979)
Adult Contemporary:
  • "Best of My Love" (1974)
  • "Love Will Keep Us Alive" (1994)
Top 10 hits:
Pop:
  • "Witchy Woman" (1972)
  • "Lyin' Eyes" (1975)
  • "Take It to the Limit" (1975)
  • "The Long Run" (1979)
  • "I Can't Tell You Why" (1980)
Adult Contemporary:
  • "Lyin' Eyes" (1975)
  • "Take It to the Limit" (1975)
  • "New Kid in Town" (1976)
  • "I Can't Tell You Why" (1980)
  • "Hole in the World" (2003)
  • "No More Cloudy Days" (2005)
  • "How Long" (2007)
Country:
  • "Lyin' Eyes" (1975)
UK:
  • "Hotel California" (1977)
#1 albums:
Pop:
  • One of These Nights (1975)
  • Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) (1976)
  • Hotel California (1976)
  • The Long Run (1979)
  • The Very Best of Eagles (2003)
  • Long Road out of Eden (2007)
UK:
  • Long Road out of Eden (2007)
Top 10 albums:
Pop:
  • Eagles Live! (1980)
  • Hell Freezes Over (1994)
UK:
  • One of These Nights (1975)
  • Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) (1976)
  • Hotel California (1976)
  • The Long Run (1979)
  • The Very Best of Eagles (2001)
Other notable recordings: "Take It Easy," "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "Tequila Sunrise," "Already Gone," "Desperado," "Life in the Fast Lane," "Seven Bridges Road," "Victim of Love," "Those Shoes," "Outlaw Man," "James Dean," "Midnight Flyer," "On the Border," "Train Leaves Here This Morning," "Doolin-Dalton," "Journey of the Sorcerer," "After the Thrill Is Gone," "Wasted Time," "The Last Resort," "Get Over It," "Busy Being Fabulous," "What Do I Do with My Heart," "I Don't Want to Hear Any More"

Covered by: Linda Ronstadt, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Judy Collins, Alan Jackson, Lorrie Morgan, Trisha Yearwood, Suzy Bogguss, Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Brooks and Dunn, Travis Tritt, Diamond Rio, Vince Gill, John Anderson, Tracy Nelson, Chris LeDoux, Black Oak Arkansas, Gipsy Kings, Wilson Phillips, Carpenters, The Moog Cookbook, Pennywise, Me First and the Gimme Gimmes, Reel Big Fish, Bush, Sarah Dougher, Dave Mason, Aswad, Yvonne Elliman, Etta James, Al B. Sure!, Paul Carrack, Firehouse, Herbie Hancock, William Hung

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