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Members include Don Felder (born on September 21, 1947, in Topanga, CA; joined group, 1975), guitar; Glenn Frey (born on November 6, 1948, in Detroit, MI), guitar; Don Henley (born on July 22, 1947, in Linden, TX), drums; Bernie Leadon (born on July 19, 1947, in Minneapolis, MN; left group, 1976), guitar; Randy Meisner (born on March 8, 1946, in Scottsbluff, NE; left group, 1977), bass guitar; Timothy B. Schmit (joined group, 1977), bass guitar; Joe Walsh (born in Cleveland, OH; joined group, 1976), guitar. Addresses: Record company--Geffen Records, 1755 Broadway, New York, NY 10019, website: http://www.geffen.com/.
The Eagles were described to readers of Time magazine in 1975 as having been "conceived in the teaching of Carlos Castaneda and his ephemeral medicine man, Don Juan." As individuals they, like Don Juan, wandered--in and out of different groups including Linda Ronstadt's back-up band--until they found what guitarist Glenn Frey called their "power spot" as the Eagles. Singer-composer Jackson Browne brought the group--then made up of Frey, Bernie Leadon, Don Henley, and Randy Meisner--to the attention of impresario David Geffen, who advanced them $100,000 and sent them to Colorado to put together an act. A month later, they were signed to the newly created Asylum Records, and by the end of the decade they had become one of the top groups of the 1970s.
Combining their unique flavor of hard-rocking music with solid production, the Eagles' 1972 self-titled debut album quickly became a bestseller, staying on the charts the last seven months of the year. Browne, another Asylum artist, aided them in one of their first hits, co-authoring "Take It Easy" with Frey. The album also included successful singles "Witchy Woman" and "Peaceful, Easy Feeling." Repaying Geffen's advance with proceeds from their first three hit singles, the group went rapidly on to record another best-selling release in 1973. Desperado, considered by critics to be something of a conceptual album, cast the rock-and-rollers as Old West outlaws in songs such as "Outlaw Man" and the title track. Both songs, assessed Time, were "linked by loneliness, excess and self-destruction." Don Henley, the group's drummer, admitted, "the whole cowboy-outlaw rocker myth was a bit bogus. I don't think we really believed it; we were just trying to make an analogy.... We were living outside the laws of normality, we were out here in L.A., things were kind of Western, and we just decided to write something about it to try to justify it to ourselves."
On the Border (1974) continued in the successful trend already begun, yielding the group's first smash single, "Best of My Love." Social commentary also seeped into the group's work, with the title track a thinly-disguised piece about the troubles President Richard Nixon had gotten himself into, although, assessed Henley, "we weren't old enough or mature enough to make any sense out of it then." As the group rose in the ranks of popular music, internal tensions would eventually lead to founding member Leadon's departure and the replacement of producer Glyn Johns. Despite changes, by the end of 1974 the Eagles' three albums had been certified gold and the band continued to grow artistically.
The group's following two albums, One of These Nights and Hotel California, were their most successful, with hits including not only the title tracks but also "Lyin' Eyes"--which won them their first Grammy in the category of Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group, "Take It to the Limit," "New Kid in Town," and "Life in the Fast Lane." "Hotel California," commonly thought to epitomize and denounce the decadence of Southern California lifestyles--of which the Eagles themselves were said to partake--became an especially popular song for the group and featured the distinctive guitar work of Joe Walsh, who replaced Leadon in the group. Henley was later to report, however, that the song was meant "in a much broader sense than a commentary about California. I was looking at American culture, and when I called that one song 'Hotel California,' I was simply using California as a microcosm for the rest of America and for the self-indulgence of our entire culture." The song garnered a Grammy in 1977 for Record of the Year; the same year Randy Meisner departed, his place filled by former Poco bass guitarist Tim Schmit. The group, busy in the recording studio and reluctant to endorse award shows, did not attend the Grammys. Said Frey, "I have reasonable doubt about how accurately any kind of contest or award show can portray the year in music." Nevertheless, the group was genuinely delighted by news of the award.
Over two years and $800,000 went into the group's long-awaited sixth album. The Long Run, a curious departure from the group's earlier work, had already reached double-platinum status (for sales of over two million copies) when it was shipped to stores. Hailed by Rolling Stone as promising "to be the Eagles' weirdest" record, the album included the slow ballad "I Can't Tell You Why" and such unusual titles as "Teenage Jail," "The Disco Strangler," and the college fraternity favorite "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks." The tone of the album was described by Henley as "tongue-in-cheek cynical. Most of the humor is so dry nobody will think it's funny." One single, "Heartache Tonight," won a 1979 Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group.
The Eagles' next effort came in the form of a double-live set in 1980 that included a major hit with "Seven Bridges Road," by Steve Young. Following the release, the band remained inactive for the next two years, and finally announced its break-up in 1982. Afterward, Frey, Walsh, and Henley went on to lucrative solo careers. Although the band turned down several rewarding offers for a reunion, Frey and Henley began writing together in 1990, and several dates were played with Walsh and Schmit. A rumored reunion, however, failed to materialize until four years later. In the early part of 1994, the Eagles taped a live show for Music Television (MTV) that broadcast in October of that year. The band also toured through 1995 and 1996 before once again taking a hiatus. A recording from the concert, Hell Freezes Over, climbed the album charts and produced the hit "Get Over It." In 1998 both the original and current members of the Eagles performed at the group's induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
The Eagles were among the most successful popular artists in the latter half of the twentieth century. The Eagle's Greatest Hits 1971-1975 has sold twenty-five million copies, and vies with Michael Jackson's Thriller for the best selling album of all time. A handful of the group's songs including "Take It Easy," "Lyin' Eyes," "Witchy Woman," and "Take It to the Limit" continue to be mainstays on "Oldie"-styled radio stations, and new material like "Hole in the World" from 2003's The Very Best of the Eagles still reaches the singles chart. Even critical opinion, which has noted the group's sexism and generic brand of rock, has been kinder to the Eagles in recent years. Of their success and time together, Henley told Rolling Stone, "I don't think we had any delusions that we were creating history or changing culture or anything.... We just wanted to do the work and be good at it and be respected by our fellow songwriters."
by Meg Mac Donald and Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr
The Eagles's Career
Band formed by Glenn Frey and Don Henley, 1971; released The Eagles on Asylum, 1972; released Desperado, 1973; group broke up, 1981, officially dissolved, 1982; reunited for MTV special, 1994; released Hell Freezes Over, 1994; toured, 1995-96; performed at group's induction to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1998.
The Eagles's Awards
Grammy Awards, Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group for "Lyin' Eyes," 1975; Record of the Year for "Hotel California," 1977; Best Arrangement for Voices for "New Kid In Town," 1977; Best Rock Vocal Performance by a Group for "Heartache Tonight," 1979; inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, 1998.
- Selected discography
- The Eagles Asylum, 1972.
- Desperado Asylum, 1973.
- On the Border Asylum, 1974.
- One of These Nights Asylum, 1975.
- Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) DCC, 1976.
- Hotel California Asylum, 1976.
- The Long Run Asylum, 1979.
- Eagles Live Asylum, 1980.
- Hell Freezes Over Geffen, 1994.
December 2005: The Eagles' 2005 tour grossed $117 million from 77 shows, ranking second in tour sales for the year. Source: E! Online, www.eonline.com, December 14, 2005.
- Clarke, Donald, Penguin Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Penguin, 1998.
- Nite, Norm N., and Ralph M. Newman, Rock On: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock 'N' Roll, Volume II, Crowell, 1978.
- Stambler, Irwin, Encylopedia of Pop, Rock, and Soul, St. Martin's, 1974.
- Rolling Stone, April 6, 1978; July 26, 1979; November 5-December 10, 1987.
- Time, August 18, 1975.
- "Eagles," All Music Guide, http://www.allmusic.com/ (January 15, 2004).
The Eagles Lyrics
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