Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Don Felder, Glenn Frey and Randy Meisner
"The theme of all our albums is looking for it, whether it be a woman, or peace of mind, or satisfaction, or success, riches or happiness, or any of that."
— Don Henley
One of the definitive bands of the American 1970s
, and the group behind many of classic rock's most iconic hits - "Hotel California", "Life in the Fast Lane", and "Heartache Tonight", to name a few. They started as a backup band for Linda Ronstadt
; the original group featured singer/guitarist/pianist Glenn Frey, guitarist/singer Don Felder, guitarist/singer Bernie Leadon, bassist/singer Randy Meisner, and drummer/singer Don Henley. She noticed that they worked well together, then encouraged them to go on their own. They started out as a country rock group before moving on to more mainstream sounds and dropping members; Eagles found their way to superstardom around 1974, former solo guitarist Joe Walsh joined in 1975 and the band would reach their greatest success with the 1976 release of their album Hotel California
. Many of their songs revolve around or at least touch upon the ugly side of the American Dream
that nobody talks about, which the band members felt they knew quite a lot about by the middle part of their career. Possibly worth noting is that their first Greatest Hits Album
was the best selling album in United States history for over three decades, and its status only changed because Michael Jackson died
. The band broke up following an infamous concert in July 1980 that featured Frey and Felder threatening each other throughout the performance. Each of the members went on (or in Walsh's case, back) to a solo career, although Henley and Frey were the most successful.
It is also worth noting that at their "Hell Freezes Over" reunion tour, Glenn Frey quipped "For the record, we never broke up; we just took a fourteen year vacation." Felder would later quit the group and sue Frey and Henley. Eagles officially
reunited to release their first new album in 28 years, 2007's Long Road Out of Eden
and have spent much of the time since on tour.
Their instrumental space-country-rock song "Journey of the Sorcerer" (from the album One of These Nights
) is famous for being used as the theme song for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Although Eagles are not primarily considered a country music act, the band has loads of cred in that department. Three of the band's singles have been top 40 country hits, and Long Road out of Eden
was the best-selling country album of 2008. In addition, Eagles' trademark use of layered harmonies has shown up in a very large number of country music bands, from 80's mainstream groups Alabama and Restless Heart, to more recent acts like Alison Krauss & Union Station and Diamond Rio. In 1993, several country singers joined forces to record a tribute album called Common Thread: The Songs of Eagles
; Travis Tritt's decision to include the 1980 lineup in the video for his cover of "Take It Easy" is said to have been a catalyst in the band's 1994 reunion. In addition, Henley recorded two duets with country superstar Trisha Yearwood.
- Glenn Frey - Lead & backing vocals, rythym guitar, piano
- Joe Walsh - Lead guitar, lead & backing vocals
- Timothy B. Schmit - Bass, lead & backing vocals
- Don Henley - Drums, lead & backing vocals
- Eagles (1972): Their first album, where the country rock roots show up best. Popular songs include "Take It Easy" and "Witchy Woman".
- Desperado (1973): A concept album centering on The Wild West, notably the outlaw gangs thereof. "Desperado" and "Tequila Sunrise" are perhaps the only songs people remember from this album.
- On the Border (1974): Introduced guitarist Don Felder.
- One of These Nights (1975): Included a couple of still-popular tunes and the unnoticed-at-the-time instrumental Journey of the Sorcerer, which went on to become the theme tune to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
- Hotel California (1976): Eagles' most famous album, and one of the most well-respected albums of rock. This album more than any other concerns itself with the concept of the American Dream. Joe Walsh joined the group in time for this album, and his guitar work helped push them firmly into the aforementioned "more mainstream" direction.
- The Long Run (1979): Eagles' last album before their
breakup fourteen year vacation.
- Hell Freezes Over (1994): Included four new studio tracks combined with 11 live recordings from their reunion show.
- Long Road Out of Eden (2007): A double album of new material; the title track is ten minutes of awesome.
- The Alcoholic: Walsh. "I only got drunk once, for thirty years."
- All-Star Cast: The whole point of making the band was to get people who were incredibly talented and who'd been 'sidelined' in their previous projects (e.g., being in the backing band of a solo artist). So by the time they began, all four of them were proficient writers, singers and instrumentalists who'd been very much in demand by others.
- All of the members who were incorporated later were also stars in their own right: Felder was a very popular guitarist in the LA area and had been hired by Crosby Nash for a tour (an offer he eventually declined in order to join the Eagles). Walsh was already a successful solo artist and guitar hero with international popularity, and Schmit had had over a decade of professional experience in Poco and as a guest musician before he joined the band.
- Doubling as Crowning Momentof Awesome, when they were inducted in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame, the SEVEN of them played 'Take It Easy' and 'Hotel California' together. Watching Randy and Tim singing together the famous 'Winslow' bit, and watching Bernie, Joe and Felder on guitar at the same time is just out of this world.
- Bittersweet Ending: The main theme of "After The Thrill Is Gone" (What can you do when your dreams come true/ And it's not quite like you planned?)
- Call Back: After repeatedly stating that they would only reform "when Hell froze over", when they finally put the band back together, they titled the resulting live album Hell Freezes Over.
- Concept Album: Desperado, about the Wild West.
- Crapsaccharine World: Hotel California.
- Crapsack World: several of their songs, but Life in the Fast Lane is probably the harshest.
- Ensemble Cast: Straight and averted - they began with the concept of splitting everything (almost) equally, but by the end it was obvious that Glenn Frey and Don Henley dominated the songwriting and singing, not to mention decision making. One of Glenn's conditions for the band's reunion in 1994 was that he and Henley should make more money, as he saw the band not as 'the musketeers' but as a sports team where all the players are important but some are more important than others. That caused a lot of tension with Don Felder and ultimately led to the latter's firing from the group.
- Follow the Leader: The list of soft-rock and even country bands who employ heavily layered harmonies is miles long.
- Funny Afro: Don Henley sported one in The Seventies.
- Greatest Hits Album: Their first, released in 1976 and covering their pre-Hotel California output, is the third-best-selling album of all time.
- Hilarious Outtakes: Their "Selected Works" collection included a number of these, including Joe Walsh's absurd vocal impressions and improvisations, Henley experimenting with various ways of expressing boredom, and short (improvised) songs about broken toes and the Pope's speculative ability to boogie.
- Inn of No Return/ Hell Hotel: "Hotel California"
- Lampshade Hanging: When the group broke up in 1980, Henley said in an interview that they'd get back together "when Hell freezes over." Guess what they called the reunion album.
- Their first major tour after the reunion was called "Farewell One."
- Live Album: Eagles Live, Hell Freezes Over, Farewell 1 Tour—Live from Melbourne.
- Long Runner Lineup: Frey, Henley, Walsh, and Schmit passed the 10-year threshold in February 2011, the ten year anniversary of their booting of Don Felder from the group.
- Loudness War: Both Selected Works and their 2003 Greatest Hits Album (which introduced "Hole In The World") were victims of this, being mastered by Ted Jensen of Death Magnetic infamy. It's nowhere near as bad as some of the other examples on that page, however.
- Love Triangle: The storyline of "Lyin' Eyes".
- Mind Screw: The lyrics of "Hotel California" constantly keep you just slightly confused about what exactly is going on.
- Shout-Out to Shakespeare: "Get Over It"
- Step Up to the Microphone: Frey and Henley were the most prolific songwriters; other band members would typically write one song per album, on which they would sing lead. Don Felder sang lead exactly one time, on "Visions" off of One of These Nights, which he co-wrote with Henley.
- Take That: "I would like to dedicate this song..."... to Mr Rupert Murdoch!"
- The "The" Title Confusion: "Eagles". Not "The Eagles", just "Eagles".
- Truck Driver's Gear Change: "Hole In The World" has a classic example.
- Vocal Tag Team: Henley usually sang lead, with Frey taking the lead once or twice an album on the songs they wrote together; other band members usually pitched in one song per album (see Step Up to the Microphone above).
- Wham Line: "Hotel California" has the famous "You can check out any time you like/But you can never leave".