Eagles, circa 1976. From left to right: 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 band consisting of guitarists Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon, bassist Randy Meisner and drummer 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 super-stardom around 1974 - the year guitarist Don Felder joined. In 1975, Leadon quit, and was replaced by former solo guitarist Joe Walsh, 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
. Randy Meisner quit in 1977, replaced by Timothy B. Schmidt (who also replaced Meisner in Poco). 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 was fired in 2001, and he would subsequently 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 Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
Although Eagles are not primarily considered a country music act, the band has loads of credibility 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 the Eagles
; Travis Tritt's decision to include the 1980 line-up 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.
Principal members (Founding members in bold, current members in italic):
- Don Felder - guitar, backing and lead vocals, organ, mandolin (1974-1980, 1994-2001)
- Glenn Frey - lead vocals, guitar, harmonica, keyboard, piano, harmonium, synthesizer, bass (1971-1980, 1994-Present)
- Don Henley - lead vocals, drums, percussion, guitar, tabla, keyboard (1971-1980, 1994-Present)
- Bernie Leadon - guitar, backing and lead vocals, mandolin, banjo (1971-1975)
- Randy Meisner - bass, backing and lead vocals, guitar, guitarrón (1971-1977)
- Timothy B. Schmit - bass, backing and lead vocals (1977-1980, 1994-Present)
- Joe Walsh - guitar, backing and lead vocals, keyboard, organ (1975-1980, 1994-Present)
Studio and Live Discography:
- 1972 - Eagles
- 1973 - Desparado
- 1974 - On The Border
- 1975 - One Of These Nights
- 1976 - Hotel California
- 1979 - The Long Run
- 1980 - Eagles Live
- 1994 - Hell Freezes Over
- 2005 - Farewell 1 Tour - Live From Melbourne
- 2007 - Long Road Out Of Eden
- The Alcoholic: Walsh. "I only got drunk once, for thirty years."
- 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?)
- Casting Couch: "King Of Hollywood".
- 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.
- Cue the Flying Pigs: After repeatedly stating that they would only re-form "when Hell froze over," when they finally put the band back together, they titled the resulting live album Hell Freezes Over.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first two albums had a more bluegrass-inflected style courtesy of Bernie Leadon rather than the Arena Rock sound they developed later.
- 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. The band's harmonies were largely influenced by The Beach Boys and The Byrds, naturally.
- 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.
- Green Aesop: "The Last Resort".
- 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: The 1999 remasters of the Eagles catalogue, being mastered by Ted Jensen of Death Magnetic infamy, are slightly compressed, but still have their dynamics in place. Completely averted by Long Road out of Eden.
- 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. Even the band isn't really sure what its about: according to Don Henley, the song is about the problems one encounters when you spend your life seeking fame and suddenly get it; Frey says its about slowly losing one's hopes and dreams as life wears you down; Walsh says its about both; and when he was asked, Schmit famously shrugged his shoulders and said, "How the fuck should I know, man..."note
- Neo Classical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: The songs on The Long Run run from blue-eyed soul, hard rock, funk and even Steely Dan-esque jazz rock.
- Playing Card Motifs: From "Desperado":
Don't you draw the queen of diamonds, boy. She'll beat you if she's able. You know the queen of hearts is always your best bet.
- Shout-Out: to Steely Dan in Hotel California:
"They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can't kill the beast."
- Steely Dan themselves made a shout out to Eagles in their song "Everything You Did": "Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening."
- 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).
- We Used to Be Friends: Don Henley and Glenn Frey. The song "The Long Run" is partially about their fractured friendship.
- Even if they're not good friends now, though, they seem to have buried the hatchet. Don Felder and the current lineup, however...
- Wham Line: "Hotel California" has the famous "You can check out any time you like/But you can never leave".