The Eagles are an American Rock music band formed in Los Angeles in 1971. The founding members were Glenn Frey (guitars, vocals), Don Henley (drums, vocals), Bernie Leadon (guitars, vocals) and Randy Meisner (bass guitar, vocals). With five number-one singles, six , five American Music Awards, and six number-one albums, the Eagles were one of the most successful musical acts of the 1970s. At the end of the 20th century, two of their albums, Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) and Hotel California, were ranked among the 20 best-selling albums in the United States according to the Recording Industry Association of America. By 2006, both albums were among the top three best-selling albums in the United States. Hotel California is ranked 37th in Rolling Stones list of "The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time" and the band was ranked number 75 on the magazine's 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.
The Eagles are one of the world's best-selling bands in history, having sold more than 150 million records—100 million in the U.S. alone. Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) is the number one selling album in the US with more than 38 million sales streams and Hotel California is the third best selling album with more than 26 million sales and streams. Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) was the best selling album of the 20th century in the U.S. They are the fifth-highest-selling music act and the highest-selling American band in U.S. history.
The band released their debut album, Eagles, in 1972, which spawned three top 40 singles: "Take It Easy", "Witchy Woman", and "Peaceful Easy Feeling". Their next album, Desperado (1973), was less successful than the first, only reaching number 41 on the charts; neither of its singles reached the top 40. However, the album does contain what would go on to be two of the band's most popular tracks: "Desperado" and "Tequila Sunrise". The band released On the Border in 1974, adding guitarist Don Felder as the fifth member midway through the recording of the album. The album generated two top 40 singles: "Already Gone" and their first number one, "Best of My Love".
Their 1975 album One of These Nights included three top 10 singles: "One of These Nights", "Lyin' Eyes", and "Take It to the Limit", the first hitting the top of the charts. Guitarist and vocalist Joe Walsh also joined the band in 1975 replacing Leadon. The Eagles continued that success and hit their commercial peak in late 1976 with the release of Hotel California, which would go on to sell more than 16 million copies in the U.S. alone and more than 32 million copies worldwide. The album yielded two number-one singles, "New Kid in Town" and "Hotel California". Meisner left the band in 1977 and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit. They released their last studio album for nearly 28 years in 1979 with The Long Run, which spawned three top 10 singles: "Heartache Tonight", "The Long Run", and "I Can't Tell You Why", the lead single being another chart-topping hit.
The Eagles disbanded in July 1980 but reunited in 1994 for the album Hell Freezes Over, a mix of live and new studio tracks. They toured consistently and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. In 2007, the Eagles released Long Road Out of Eden, their first full studio album in 28 years and their sixth number-one album. The next year they launched the Long Road Out of Eden Tour in support of the album. In 2013, they began the extended History of the Eagles Tour in conjunction with the band's documentary release, History of the Eagles.
Following the death of Frey in January 2016, Henley stated in several interviews that he did not think the band would perform again. However, the Eagles continued performing in 2017 with guest musicians Deacon Frey (son of Glenn) and Vince Gill.
While on the tour, Frey and Henley decided to form a band together and informed Ronstadt of their intention. Frey later credited Ronstadt with suggesting Leadon for the band, and arranging for Leadon to play for her so Frey and Henley could approach him about forming a band together. They also pitched the idea to Meisner and brought him on board. These four played live together behind Ronstadt only once for a July concert at Disneyland, but all four appeared on her eponymous album. It was later proposed that J. D. Souther should join the band, but Meisner objected. The four were signed in September 1971 to Asylum Records, the new label started by David Geffen, who was introduced to Frey by Jackson Browne. Geffen bought out Frey's and Henley's contracts with Amos Records, and sent the four to Aspen, Colorado to develop as a band.
The group's eponymous debut album was recorded in England in February 1972 with producer Glyn Johns. Johns was impressed by the harmony singing of the band, and he has been credited with shaping the band into "the country-rock band with those high-flyin' harmonies." Released on June 1, 1972, Eagles was a breakthrough success, yielding three Top 40 singles. The first single and lead track, "Take It Easy," was a song written by Frey with his then-neighbor and fellow country-folk rocker Jackson Browne. Browne had written the first verse of the song, but got stalled on the second verse after the line "I'm standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona." Frey completed the verse with "Such a fine sight to see, It's a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford, slowin' down to take a look at me," and Browne carried on to finish the song. The song reached number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and propelled the Eagles to stardom. The single was followed by the bluesy "Witchy Woman" and the soft country rock ballad "Peaceful Easy Feeling," charting at number 9 and number 22 respectively. The group supported the album with a US tour as the opening act for Yes.
Their second album, Desperado, took Old West outlaws for its theme, drawing comparisons between their lifestyles and modern rock stars. This album was the first to showcase the group's penchant for conceptual songwriting. It was during these recording sessions Henley and Frey first began writing together. They co-wrote eight of the album's eleven songs, including "Tequila Sunrise" and "Desperado," two of the group's most popular songs. The bluegrass songs "Twenty-One," "Doolin–Dalton," and the ballad "Saturday Night" showcase guitarist Bernie Leadon's abilities on the banjo, guitar, and mandolin. The story of the notorious Wild West "Dalton Gang" gang is the main thematic focus of the album, as seen in the songs "Doolin–Dalton," "Desperado," "Certain Kind of Fool," "Outlaw Man," and "Bitter Creek." The album was less successful than the group's first, reaching only number 41 on the US Billboard 200 and yielding two singles, "Tequila Sunrise," which reached number 61 on the Billboard Hot 100 and "Outlaw Man," which peaked at number 59. With Henley and Frey co-writing the bulk of the album—a pattern that would continue for years to come—the album marked a significant change for the band. The pair also began to dominate in terms of leadership; the early assumption had been that Leadon and Meisner as veteran musicians would have a greater influence on the band.Hilburn, Robert (May 23, 1982). . Los Angeles Times.
The band played at the California Jam festival in Ontario, California on April 6, 1974. Attracting more than 300,000 fans and billed as "the Woodstock of the West Coast," the festival featured Black Sabbath, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Deep Purple, Earth, Wind & Fire, Seals & Crofts, Black Oak Arkansas, and Rare Earth. Portions of the show were telecast on ABC television in the United States, exposing the Eagles to a wider audience. Felder missed the show when he was called away to attend the birth of his son; Jackson Browne filled in for him on piano and acoustic guitar.
The Eagles released their fourth studio album, One of These Nights, on June 10, 1975. A breakthrough album for the Eagles, making them international superstars, it was the first in a string of four consecutive number 1 albums. The dominant songwriting partnership of Henley and Frey continued on this album. The first single was the title track, which became their second consecutive chart topper. Frey has said it is his all-time favorite Eagles tune. The second single was "Lyin' Eyes," which reached number 2 on the charts and won the band their first Grammy for "Best Pop Performance by a duo or group with vocal." The final single, "Take It to the Limit," was written by Meisner, Henley, and Frey, and it is the only Eagles single to feature Meisner on lead vocals. The song reached number 4 on the charts. The band launched a huge worldwide tour in support of the album, and the album was nominated for a Grammy award for Album of the Year. The group was featured on the cover of the September 25, 1975 issue of Rolling Stone magazine and on September 28, the band joined Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, and Toots and the Maytals for a show in front of 55,000 people at Angel Stadium.
One of These Nights was their last album to feature founding member Bernie Leadon. Leadon wrote or co-wrote three songs for the album, including "I Wish You Peace," written with girlfriend Patti Davis (daughter of California governor Ronald Reagan and Nancy Reagan); and the instrumental "Journey of the Sorcerer," which would later be used as the theme music for the BBC's radio and television versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Leadon was disillusioned with the direction the band's music was taking and his loss of creative control as their sound was moving from his preferred country to rock and roll. His dissatisfaction, principally with Frey, boiled over one night when Frey was talking animatedly about the direction they should take next, and Leadon poured a beer over Frey's head, and said: "You need to chill out, man!" On December 20, 1975, after months of denials, it was announced that Leadon had left the band.
In early 1976, the band released their first compilation album, Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975). The album became the highest-selling album of the 20th century in the United States, and has since sold 29 million copies in the U.S. (excluding streams and tracks) and 42 million copies worldwide. It stayed the biggest seller of all time until it was taken over by Michael Jackson's Thriller following the artist's death in 2009. The album cemented the group's status as the most successful American band of the decade.
The following album, Hotel California, released on December 8, 1976, was the band's fifth studio album and the first to feature Walsh. The album took a year and a half to complete, a process which, along with touring, drained the band. The album's first single, "New Kid in Town," became the Eagles' third number-one single.
The second single was the Hotel California, which topped the charts in May 1977 and became the Eagles' signature song. It features Henley on lead vocals, with a guitar duet performed by Felder and Walsh. The song was written by Felder, Henley, and Frey, with Felder writing all the music. The mysterious lyrics have been interpreted in many ways, some of them controversial. Rumors even started in certain quarters that the song was about Satanism. The rumor was dismissed by the band and later by Henley in the documentary film History of the Eagles. Henley told 60 Minutes in 2007 that "it's basically a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream and about excess in America, which was something we knew about."
With its hard rock sound, "Life in the Fast Lane" was also a major success that established Walsh's position in the band. The third and final single from Hotel California, it reached number 11 on the charts. The ballad "Wasted Time" closes the first side of the album, while an instrumental reprise of it opens the second side. The album concludes with "The Last Resort," a song that Frey once referred to as "Henley's opus," but which Henley described as "fairly pedestrian" and "never fully realized, musically speaking."
The run-out groove on side two has the words "V.O.L. Is Five-Piece Live" etched into the vinyl, which means that the instrumental track for the song "Victim of Love" was recorded live in the studio, with no overdubs. Henley confirms this in the liner notes of The Very Best Of. However, the song was a point of contention between Don Felder and the rest of the band. In the 2013 documentary, Felder claimed that he had been promised the lead vocal on "Victim of Love," for which he had written most of the music. After many unproductive attempts to record Felder's vocal, band manager Irving Azoff was delegated to take Felder out for a meal, removing him from the mix while Don Henley overdubbed his lead vocal. Hotel California appeared at number 37 on Rolling Stone's list of the best albums of all time, and is the band's best-selling studio album, with more than 17 million copies sold in the U.S. alone
The album won Grammys for "Record of the Year" ("Hotel California") and "Best Arrangement for Voices" ("New Kid in Town"). Hotel California topped the charts and was nominated for Album of the Year at the 1978 Grammy Awards, but lost to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. The huge worldwide tour in support of the album further drained the band members and strained their personal and creative relationships.
Hotel California is the last album to feature founding member Randy Meisner, who abruptly left the band after the 1977 tour. The Eagles had been touring continuously for eleven months; the band was suffering from the strain of the tour, and Meisner's Peptic ulcer had flared up by the time they arrived in Knoxville in June 1977. Meisner had been struggling to hit the crucial high notes in his signature song, "Take It To the Limit," and was unwilling to perform the song, Frey and Meisner then became engaged in arguments about Meisner's reluctance to perform. Meisner decided to not sing the song as an encore at the Knoxville concert because he had been up late and caught the Influenza. Frey and Meisner then got into an angry physical confrontation backstage, and Meisner left the venue. After the incident, Meisner was frozen out from the band, and he decided to leave the group at the end of the tour and return to Nebraska to be with his family. His last performance was in East Troy, Wisconsin on September 3, 1977. The band replaced Meisner with the same musician who had succeeded him in Poco, Timothy B. Schmit, after agreeing that Schmit was the only candidate.
Frey, Henley and Schmit contributed backup vocals for the single release of "Look What You've Done to Me" by Boz Scaggs. A different version with female backing vocals appears on the Urban Cowboy soundtrack, along with the Eagles' 1975 hit "Lyin' Eyes."
On July 31, 1980, in Long Beach, California, tempers boiled over into what has been described as the "Long Night at Wrong Beach.". The Times (London). October 12, 2007. The animosity between Felder and Frey boiled over before the show began, when Felder said, "You're welcome – I guess" to California Senator Alan Cranston's wife as the politician was thanking the band backstage for performing a benefit for his reelection. Frey and Felder spent the entire show telling each other about the beating each planned to administer backstage. "Only three more songs until I kick your ass, pal," Frey recalled Felder telling him near the end of the band's set. Felder recalls Frey telling him during "Best of My Love," "I'm gonna kick your ass when we get off the stage."
It appeared to be the end of the Eagles, but the band still had a commitment with Elektra Records to make a live record from the tour. Eagles Live (released in November 1980) was mixed on opposite coasts. Frey had already left the band and would remain in Los Angeles, while the other band members each worked on their parts in Miami. "We were fixing three-part harmonies courtesy of Federal Express," said producer Bill Szymczyk. Frey refused to speak to the other Eagles, and he fired Irving Azoff as his manager. With credits that listed five attorneys, the album's liner notes simply said, "Thank you and goodnight." A single released from the album – "Seven Bridges Road" – had been a live concert staple for the band. It was written by Steve Young in an arrangement created by Iain Matthews for his Valley Hi album in 1973. The song reached number 21 on the charts in 1980, becoming the Eagles' last Top 40 single until 1994.
Henley achieved arguably the greatest commercial solo success of any former Eagle. In 1981, he sang a duet with Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac fame, "Leather and Lace." In 1982, he released I Can't Stand Still, featuring the hit "Dirty Laundry." This album would pale in comparison to his next release, Building the Perfect Beast (1984), which features the classic rock radio staples "The Boys of Summer" (a Billboard number 5 hit), "All She Wants to Do Is Dance" (number 9), "Not Enough Love in the World" (number 34) and "Sunset Grill" (number 22). Henley's next album, The End of the Innocence (1989), was also a major success. It includes "The End of the Innocence," "The Last Worthless Evening" and "The Heart of the Matter." His solo career was cut short due to a contract dispute with his record company, which was finally resolved when the Eagles reunited in 1994.
Frey also achieved solo success in the 1980s. In 1982, he released his first album, No Fun Aloud, which spawned the number 15 hit, "The One You Love." The Allnighter (1984) featured the number 20 hit "Sexy Girl." He reached number 2 on the charts with "The Heat Is On" from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. He had another number 2 single in 1985 with "You Belong to the City" from the Miami Vice soundtrack, which featured another Frey song, "Smuggler's Blues." He appeared as "Jimmy" in the episode titled after the song and contributed riffs to the episode's soundtrack. He also contributed the songs "Flip City" to the Ghostbusters II soundtrack and "Part of Me, Part of You" to the soundtrack for Thelma & Louise.
Music writer turned filmmaker Cameron Crowe, an Eagles fan, had written articles about Poco and the Eagles during his journalism career. In 1982 his first screenplay was produced as the feature-length movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The film was co-produced by Eagles manager Azoff, who also co-produced the soundtrack album, released by Elektra. Henley, Walsh, Schmit and Felder all contributed solo songs to the film's soundtrack. The band playing at the dance toward the end of the movie covers the Eagles song "Life in the Fast Lane."
Felder also released a solo album and contributed two songs to the soundtrack of the movie Heavy Metal: "Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)" (with Henley and Schmit providing backing vocals) and "All of You." He also had a minor hit called "Bad Girls" off his solo album Airborne.
Schmit had a prolific solo career after the band's initial breakup. He had a hit song on the Fast Times at Ridgemont High soundtrack with "So Much in Love." He contributed vocals to the Crosby, Stills & Nash album Daylight Again on the songs "Southern Cross" and "Wasted on the Way" when that band needed an extra vocalist due to David Crosby's drug overindulgence. Schmit sang backup vocals on Toto's Toto IV album, including the song "I Won't Hold You Back" and appeared with the group on their 1982 European tour. He spent three years (1983–1985) as a member of Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer band and coined the term "Parrotheads" for Buffett's die-hard fans. He had a Top 40 solo hit in 1987 with "Boys' Night Out" and a top-30 Adult Contemporary hit with "Don't Give Up," both from his album Timothy B. Schmit appeared with Meisner and Walsh on Richard Marx's debut single "Don't Mean Nothing." In 1992, Schmit and Walsh toured as members of Ringo Starr's All-Starr Band and appeared on the live video from the Montreux Jazz Festival. Schmit released two solo albums, Playin' It Cool in 1984 and Tell Me the Truth in 1990. He was the only Eagle to appear on the 1993 Eagles tribute album , singing backing vocals on Vince Gill's cover of "I Can't Tell You Why."
Meisner hit the top 40 three times, including the number 19 "Hearts on Fire" in 1981.
"For the record, we never broke up, we just took a 14-year vacation," announced Frey at their first live performance in April 1994. The ensuing tour spawned a live album titled Hell Freezes Over (named for Henley's recurring statement that the group would get back together "when hell freezes over"), which debuted at number 1 on the Billboard album chart. It included four new studio songs, with "Get Over It" and "Love Will Keep Us Alive" both becoming Top 40 hits. The album proved as successful as the tour, selling six million copies in the U.S. The tour was interrupted in September 1994 because of Frey's serious recurrence of diverticulitis, but it resumed in 1995 and continued into 1996.. In 1998, the Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For the induction ceremony, all seven Eagles members (Frey, Henley, Felder, Walsh, Schmit, Leadon, and Meisner) played together for two songs, "Take It Easy" and "Hotel California." Several subsequent reunion tours followed (without Leadon or Meisner), notable for their record-setting ticket prices.
The Eagles performed at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas on December 28 and 29, 1999, followed by a concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on December 31. These concerts marked the last time Felder played with the band and the shows (including a planned video release) would later form a part of a lawsuit filed by Felder against his former band mates. The concert recordings were released on CD as part of the four-disc box set in November 2000. Along with the concert, this set included the band's hit singles, album tracks and outtakes from The Long Run sessions. Selected Works received platinum certification from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in 2002. The group resumed touring in 2001, with a line-up consisting of Frey, Henley, Walsh, and Schmit, along with Steuart Smith (guitars, mandolin, keyboards, backing vocals; essentially taking over Felder's role), Michael Thompson (keyboards, trombone), Will Hollis (keyboards, backing vocals), Scott Crago (drums, percussion), Bill Armstrong (Horns), Al Garth (sax, violin), Christian Mostert (sax), and Greg Smith (sax, percussion).
On behalf of Henley and Frey, attorney Daniel M. Petrocelli responded by saying "Henley felt—creatively, chemistry-wise and performance-wise—that he should no longer be part of the band ... They removed him, and they had every legal right to do so. This has been happening with rock 'n' roll bands since day one. Henley and Frey then countersued Felder for breach of contract, alleging that Felder had written a "tell-all" book, . The initial U.S. release was canceled after publisher Hyperion Books backed out in September 2001, when an entire print run of the book had to be recalled for cuts and changes. The American edition was published by John Wiley & Sons on April 28, 2008, with Felder embarking on a full publicity campaign surrounding its release. The book was published in the United Kingdom on November 1, 2007.Sandall, Robert (October 28, 2007). . The Sunday Times (London).
On January 23, 2002, the Los Angeles County Court consolidated the two complaints, set a trial date for September 2006, and the single case was dismissed on May 8, 2007, after being settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.
In 2003, the Eagles released a greatest hits album, The Very Best Of. The two-disc compilation was the first that encompassed their entire career from Eagles to Hell Freezes Over. It debuted at number 3 on the Billboard charts and eventually gained triple platinum status. The album included a new single, the September 11 attacks-themed "Hole in the World." Also in 2003, Warren Zevon, a longtime Eagles friend, began work on his final album, The Wind, with the assistance of Henley, Walsh, and Schmit.
On June 14, 2005, the Eagles released a new 2-DVD set, Farewell 1 Tour-Live from Melbourne, featuring two new songs: Frey's "No More Cloudy Days" and Walsh's "One Day at a Time." A special edition 2006 release, exclusive to Walmart and affiliated stores, includes a bonus audio CD with three new songs: a studio version of "No More Cloudy Days," "Fast Company," and "Do Something.". TheROCKradio. December 1, 2006.
On October 30, 2007, the Eagles released Long Road Out of Eden, their first album of all-new material since 1979. For the first year after the album's release, it was available in the U.S. only via the band's website, at Walmart, and at Sam's Club stores. It was commercially available through traditional retail outlets in other countries. The album debuted at number 1 in the U.S., the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, and Norway. It became their third studio album and seventh release overall to be certified at least seven times platinum by the RIAA. Henley told CNN that "This is probably the last Eagles album that we'll ever make."
The Eagles made their awards show debut on November 7, 2007, when they performed "How Long" live at the Country Music Association Awards.
On January 28, 2008, the second single of Long Road Out of Eden was released. "Busy Being Fabulous" peaked at number 28 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and at number 12 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart. The Eagles won their fifth Grammy in 2008, in the category Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "How Long."
On March 20, 2008, the Eagles launched their world tour in support of Long Road Out of Eden at The O2 Arena in London. The Long Road Out of Eden Tour concluded the American portion of the tour at Rio Tinto Stadium in Sandy, Utah on May 9, 2009. It was the first concert ever held in the new soccer stadium. The tour travelled to Europe, with its final concert date on July 22, 2009, in Lisbon. The band spent the summer of 2010 touring North American stadiums with the Dixie Chicks and Keith Urban. The tour expanded to England as the headline act of the Hop Farm Festival on July 1, 2011.
Asked in November 2010 whether the Eagles were planning a follow-up to Long Road Out of Eden, Schmit replied, "My first reaction would be: no way. But I said that before the last one, so you never really know. Bands are a fragile entity and you never know what's going to happen. It took a long time to do that last album, over a span of years, really, and it took a lot out of us. We took a year off at one point. I'm not sure if we're able to do that again. I wouldn't close the door on it, but I don't know." Walsh said in 2010 that there might be one more album before the band "wraps it up." Frey later stated in a 2012 interview that the band has had discussions about releasing an EP of potentially 4–6 songs that may contain both original and cover material.
On January 18, 2016, founding member Glenn Frey died at the Columbia University Medical Center in New York City at the age of 67. The causes of his death were rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia while recovering from intestinal surgery.
At the 58th Annual Grammy Awards in February, the Eagles, joined by Leadon, touring guitarist Steuart Smith, and co-writer Jackson Browne, performed "Take It Easy" in honor of Frey. In subsequent interviews, Henley stated that he didn't think the band would perform again.
In March 2017, it was announced that the band would be headlining the Classic West and Classic East concert events in July 2017, which were organized by their manager Irving Azoff. Glenn Frey's son Deacon performed in Glenn's place, along with country musician Vince Gill. At the Classic West concert on July 15, the band was joined by Bob Seger who sang "Heartache Tonight", which he co-wrote. Deacon Frey was noted for his composure and precision.
A North American tour, again with Frey and Gill, began in March 2018. Henley's son Will joined the touring band as a guitarist. In October 2018, The Eagles formally announced a worldwide tour and are to visit Europe and Oceania in early 2019.
The group's sound has also been described as country rock,Hunter, James (July 17, 2015). . Encyclopædia Britannica.
On their early records, the group combined rock and roll, country music, and folk music music styles. For their third album On the Border, the band widened their style to include a prominent hard rock sound, a genre the band had only touched upon previously. The 1975 follow-up album One of These Nights saw the group explore a softer sound, notably exemplified on the hit singles "Take It to the Limit," and "Lyin' Eyes. Leadon, who was the principal country influence, left the band after the album was released, and the band moved away from country rock to a more rock direction in Hotel California. The band's 2007 comeback album Long Road Out of Eden saw them explore country rock, blues rock, and funk.