The Eagles defined the sound of California in the 1970s and were its most successful exponents.
The band formed out of the Los Angeles county rock scene in 1970 when guitarist Glenn Frey, drummer Don Henley, guitarist Bernie Leadon and Bsssist Randy Meisner were recruited as Linda Ronstadt's group for her Silk Purse album in 1970.
Hitting Solid Gold
Frey had previously played with Bob Seger and J.D. Souther, Leadon with The Flying Burrito Brothers and Dillard Clark, Meisner with Poco and Ricky Nelson, Henley with Shiloh. They were accomplished musicians and singer/songwriters and after working with Ronstadt they decided to form their own band.
They came to London to record their debut album, The Eagles (1972), with producer Clyn Johns (The Rolling Stones
, The Who
, Steve Miller), polishing the country rock of The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers with a harder sound and carefully arranged harmonies. The Eagles went gold in America, spawning three hit singles: 'Witchy Woman', 'Take It Easy' (written by Frey with Jackson Browne) and 'Peaceful Easy Feeling'.
They returned to London for Desperado (1973), a conceptual album that drew parallels with cowboy culture and the rock'n'roll lifestyle. It was less successful, although the title track was covered by Linda Ronstadt, The Carpenters and Bonnie Raitt, and 'Tequila Sunrise' became one of their most popular songs. For On The Border (1974) The Eagles switched to Los Angeles and producer Bill Szymczyk (who would produced their subsequent albums), adding guitarist Don Felder to the line-up. Their slicker, sharper sound brought them their first US No. 1 with 'Best Of My Love'. One Of These Nights (1975) established The Eagles as one of America's biggest bands. It topped the US charts for five weeks and included three big hits - 'One Of These Nights', 'Lyin' Eyes' and 'Take It To The Limit' - that all charted in the UK along with the album.
The Eagles' increasingly commercial style, spiraling success and internal tensions caused a disaffected Leadon to leave in 1976. He was replaced by guitarist Joe Walsh, who was previously in The James Gang and had released several solo albums.
Hotel California (1976) was The Eagles' pinnacle. Painstakingly recorded, it caught the full decadence of their vision of the American dream in a blaze of guitars, acerbic lyrics and tight harmonies. It was No. 1 in America for eight weeks, produced two No. 1 singles - 'New Kid In Town' and the title track - and won five Grammy Awards
Miesner bailed out in late 1977. His replacement was bassist Timothy B. Schmit who had followed Meisner into Poco. But it was another two years before The Eagles completed their next album as their obsessive quest for perfection and strained relations hampered their creativity. The Long Run (1979) continued to break the band's own records, spending nine weeks at No. 1 and featuring three more major hits: 'Heartache Tonight', 'The Long Run' and 'I Can't Tell You Why'. But by the time Live (1980) came out the band had broken up, although it was not made official until 1982.
'When Hell Freezes Over'
The group members spent the next decade pursuing solo careers. Henley had a Top 10 hit with 'Leather And Lace', a duet with Stevie Nicks in 1981, followed by 'Dirty Laundry' (1982), 'The Boys Of Summer' and 'All She Wants To Do Is Dance' (1985) and 'The End Of The Innocence' (1989). Frey charted with 'The One You Love' (1982) and 'Sexy Cat' (1984) before scoring No. 2 hits with 'The Heat Is On' and "you Belong To The City' (1985). He also embarked on an acting career, making his debut in Miami Vice
Whenever Henley was asked when The Eagles would reform he replied, 'When Hell freezes over.'
Hell Freezes Over (1994) was the result of two years inching towards a reunion. There were four new songs plus tracks from the MTV concert that launched their comeback. Since then they have toured periodically, sacked Don Felder and recorded the all-new Long Road Out Of Eden (2007). Meanwhile Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-75 (1975) continues to sell and has already notched up over 28 million copies.