The Eagles in concert, "History of the Eagles" tour, Grand Rapids, September 2014. Photo: Rachel Kramer, Wikimedia Commons.

One of the world’s most successful bands: The Eagles

What are they famous for?

The Eagles are famous for being a rock band from the United States, first founded in 1971. The bands original members consisted of Glenn Frey who performed on guitar and vocals, Don Henley who was the bands drummer and vocalist, Bernie Leadon who was a guitarist and vocalist for the band and Randy Meisner who was the bands bass guitarist. The band has been highly accomplished since their formation with five number one hit singles, six top-rated albums and many accolades including six Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards and many more.

The Eagles are one of the top-selling bands in the world and have sold more than 200 million albums around the world. The band experienced a great deal of success throughout the 70s and regularly appeared on the top 40. They broke up at the start of the 80s but reunited over a decade later. Original band member Glenn Frey died in 2016 however and since then his vocals have been shared by Deacon Frey and Vince Gill.

The Eagles performing at the Berliner O2 World. Source: Karstenknuth, Wikimedia Commons.

The band musical style has been described as being influenced by rhythm and blues, soul and rock. Their early sound was described as country rock but they came to have a harder sound in their later years. They are most often described as having a ‘California rock’ sound.

Career Beginnings

The band was first founded in 1971 after Linda Ronstadt and John Boylan began recruiting musicians, beginning with Glenn Frey and Don Henley. Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon also joined Ronstandt’s band during the Silk Purse tour. While away on tour Frey and Henley decided to form a band together, they let Rondstadt know and he suggested that Leadon join the band. The group also brought Meisner in on the band and the group were signed in 1971 to Asylum Records.

The group did not settle on a name straight away and performed under the band ame ‘Teen King and the Emergencies’ at a club in Aspen before coming up with the name ‘The Eagles’ after an outing in the Mojave Desert. Their first debut album was recorded in 1972 with the producer Glyn Johns who helped the band find their ‘country-rock’ sound.

The Eagles band from California. From left to right are: Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit during their Long Road out of Eden Tour in 2008. Source: Steve Alexander, Wikimedia Commons.

Career Breakthrough

The Eagles debut album was a success and had three singles make it to the top 40 including ‘Take It Easy’ and the rock ballad ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ which made it to number nine on the charts. The bands second album, ‘Desperado’ included a number of successful songs including ‘Tequila Sunrise’,, ‘Desperado’ and ‘Outlaw Man’. The album however was less successful than their previous album and reached on number 41 on the Billboard 200 charts.

Their third album ‘On The Border’ had a harder rock style. The band went looking for a guitarist capable of providing the harder edged sound and the band sought out Don Felder who they were impressed by and invited to join the band as their fifth member. The band released the song ‘Already Gone’, the single reached number 32 on the charts. Their album also yielded the single ‘Best Of My Love’ with topped the charts. The song ‘James Dean’ also performed well on the charts.

The Eagles on the border

The bands fourth album ‘One of These Nights’ was released in 1975. The single ‘Lyin’ Eyes’ reached number two on the charts, whilst ‘Take It To The Limit’ reached number four. The band went on a worldwide tour to promote the album. The album was the last album that Bernie Leadon took part in as he has become disillusioned with the direction of the band.

The Eagles one of these nights

The band replaced Leadon with Joe Walsh and with Leadon’s replacement the bands country song disappeared almost entirely. The band released a compilation album in 1976 which became one of the highest selling albums of the 20th century in the United States.

Their next album, Hotel California was released in 1976 and featured the number one single ‘New Kid in Town’, the title track also topped the charts and became the bands signature song. The song ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ was also successful and hit number 11 on the charts. The album won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. The album was the last one for Randy Meisner who left the band after their 1977 tour and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.

Continuing Career

The Eagles entered the recording studio again in 1977 and started working on their album, ‘The Long Run’ and released it in 1979. The album has three top ten singles, ‘Heartache Tonight’, ‘I Can’t Tell You Why’ and ‘In The City’. In 1980 the band had a falling out when the tensions between Felder and Frey boiled over. Felder was rude to California Senator Alan Cranston’s wife and Felder and Frey spent much of the show threatening to beat each other up. The band mixed ‘Eagles Live’ on opposite coasts, with Frey in Los Angeles and the remainder of the band in Miami. The band broke up and pursued solo careers.

The Eagles the long run
Cover for “The Long Run”, an album recorded by American rock band The Eagles.

Walsh came out with a successful album in 1981 but struggled with his subsequent albums. Henley achieved success with his solo career with a number of hit songs, including ‘Leather and Lace’ a duet with Fleetwood Mac, as did Frey who came out with a number of successful songs including the number two song ‘the Heat is On’ and ‘Smugglers Blues’. Schmidt also had a successful solo career with songs like ‘I Won’t Hold You Back’.

The Eagles brought out a tribute album which was released in 1993, the band formally reunited the following year. The band released an album ‘Hell Freezes Over’ which debuted at number one and included the songs ‘Get Over It’ and ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive’. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and they went on several subsequent reunion tours. In 2001 Don Felder was fired from the band and he filed two lawsuits in response. He claimed that he had been forced to sign an agreement which gave Henley and Frey a greater share of the proceeds of ‘Selected Works: 1972-1999’ and that he had been wrongfully terminated. He was counter-sued for breach of contract. Felder wrote a tell all book which was intended to be released in 2008 but was not released until 2007 in the UK and 2008 in the US.

The Eagles hell freezes over

The case was dismissed in 2007 with a settlement of an undisclosed amount. The band released a greatest hits album in 2003 which debuted at number three and included the single ‘Hole in the World’. In 2007 the band brought out the album ‘Long Road Out Of Eden’ and went on tour in 2008. In 2013 a documentary called ‘History of the Eagles’ came out, chronicling the career of the band. In 2016 Glenn Frey died at the age of 67 as a result of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. Initially it was announced that the band would likely never perform together again but that proved to be untrue as they have toured North America, the UK and Oceania since. The band toured throughout 2017 and 2019 and announced that they would be touring for their 1976 album Hotel California in 2020.

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