The history of The Eagles is a story peppered with unbridled success, fiery animosity, and even the death of one of their bandmates. These five musicians from Southern California came together to form The Eagles in 1971, with Glenn Frey as the lead singer, Don Henley on drums, and Bernie Leadon on lead guitar. They soon recruited Tim Schmit on bass and Joe Walsh on rhythm guitar. After signing to Asylum Records, they released their debut album “The Eagles” in 1972; it was an overnight sensation. Their sophomore record “Desperado” followed in 1973, which also became a hit. In 1975 they released another platinum album called “One of These Nights” which was made up of three separate tracks taped back-to-back-to-back that had no breaks between them! Their biggest hit song “Hotel California” was also released on this album. So many great songs were released by this band over their nearly two-decade career.
The Formation of the Band
The band got their start in 1971 when the former members of the Flying Burrito Brothers decided to form a new band. They recruited Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, who had been playing in a band called the Meisner Brothers. They were looking for a fourth member and invited an old friend, Glenn Frey, to join them. Frey had been playing in a band called the Mushrooms and had met the rest of the group when they were all on a show together. Bernie Leadon was the first to join, and he recruited his friend Don Henley to play drums. Henley, who was Leadon’s roommate at the time, had never played the drums before, but he figured it couldn’t be too difficult. Leadon also went to high school with Randy Meisner and invited him to play bass. Meisner declined at first, telling them he was heading to Florida to play with his fiancé, who was in a band called the Crickets. But when Meisner broke up with the girl and returned to Los Angeles, he called Leadon back and accepted the offer. They were still looking for a singer when Glenn Frey called Leadon and told him that he had been asked to join the Mushrooms, but he wasn’t interested in playing the kind of music they did. The two men decided to get together with Henley and Meisner and see if they could come up with something better.
1975-1981: The First Golden Age
The first real studio album the band made was released in 1973. The album was called “Desperado,” and it was a crossover success, appealing to fans of both country and rock music. The title track from their album was a crossover hit, too, making it number one on the country charts, number two on the rock charts, and number six on the pop charts. The band was invited to the Academy Awards ceremony and presented the award for Best Song. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Country Song and was nominated for Best Album. The band members were invited to the inauguration of President Ford, where they played at a state dinner. The Eagles continued to release many other albums, including “On the Border,” “One of These Nights,” “Hotel California,” “The Long Run,” and “Greatest Hits.” These albums all contained three or four hit songs, and they sold millions of copies. They became one of the most successful bands in the world and were invited to tour again. They played to sold-out crowds all over the world, including Central and South America.
1981-1994: The Second Golden Age and Feuding Bandmates
Despite their success, the members of The Eagles, who had been close friends since their early days together, began to feud. Leadon quit, claiming that the band had become too much about money and less about music. He was replaced by Don Felder, who had been playing with the group since 1975. The Eagles’ next album, “Hotel California,” was a huge success and became their best-selling album. It was nominated for three Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year. The group started another world tour that lasted three years. The group’s final album was released in 1982, and it was called “Eagles Live.” It won a Grammy Award for Best Long-Form Music Video. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994.
1994-2016: Reunion and Beyond
After their break-up in 1980, the band members moved on to solo careers. However, they got together in 1994 to play at a tribute concert for the late Linda Ronstadt, who had recently been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. They were so well received that they decided to keep playing together as a band. The Eagles put together a greatest hits tour, which included performances at Madison Square Garden, the Rose Bowl, and a show in Australia that was broadcast on pay-per-view television. They were inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2002, and their song “Hotel California” was declared “California’s Song” in 2004. In 2012 the band members announced that they would be releasing a new album.
The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994. Their induction speech was given by fellow musician and friend Steve Martin.