lenn Frey was an out-of-work musician in 1971 when he was hired to play guitar in Linda Ronstadt's road band. She also needed a drummer, so Glenn recruited Don Henley from the bar in L.A.'s Troubadour Club. The two men became friends and decided it would be fun to start their own group. Weeks later, Ronstadt's bass player quit, and was replaced by Randy Meisner, formerly of Poco. During the weeks of rehearsals that followed, Randy agreed to join a new band. At that point, Bernie Leadon, who had played with Rondstadt in the past, began to sit in with the other three. In August of 1971, they officially became a quartet. At first, as a joke, they called themselves Teen King and the Emergencies. Then Bernie began reading about the Hopi Indians and the spiritual significance that eagles had in their culture. Don like the idea of calling the group the Eagles, and so did Glenn, who thought it made them sound like a street gang from Detroit.
Their first album, The Eagles, produced three hits in a row in 1972: "Take It Easy," "Witchy Woman," and "Peaceful Easy Feeling." Critics characterized their style as "the laid-back sound of L.A.," even though the entire album was recorded in London. Their second album, Desperado, and most of their third, On The Border, were also cut overseas.
During the sessions for On The Border, the bend went through what Glenn called their "midlife crisis." They changed producers, added guitarist Don Felder, and returned to L.A., where the album was completed. In late 1974, it yielded their first number-one single, "Best of My Love."
From the beginning, the Eagles' music explored the emotional side effects of pursuing one's goals. "I think you write about what moves you," said Glenn. "I mean, I'm all in favor of singing a love song that has no message at all, you know, concerning politics or ecology, if it's a well-written song where the words really mean something for somebody who listens to it. I just think there's a need for lyrics that you can get your teeth into."
In 1975, the Eagles released their fourth album, One of These Nights. Among other songs, Glenn conceived the title track. "It's about putting things off. We've all said, 'one of these nights I'm gonna do something -- get that girl, make that money, find that house.' We all have our dreams -- a vision we hope will come true someday. When that 'someday' will come is up to each of us."
"One of These Nights" is perhaps the quintessential Eagles song. "All our records have the same theme, and that is the search," said co-writer Don. "It doesn't matter if it's romance, money or security; it's the act of looking for it. Your whole life is one long journey, and getting there is more important than the journey's end."
The Eagles went on to further assert themselves as a premier rock group of the decade. Their 1977 album, Hotel California, sold over nine million copies and let to two more Grammys. "New Kid in Town" (later number one) won Best Vocal Arrangement, while the title song (another chart-topper) was named Record of the Year. The album also contained "Life in the Fast Lane."
In 1978 came a Yuletide 45, "Please Come Home for Christmas." Then, in 1979, the Eagles released their seventh album, The Long Run. It featured three hit singles: "Heartache Tonight" (their fifth number one), the title track, and "I Can't Tell You Why."
At the decade's close (according to their label), the Eagles had sold more records during the 1970s than any other American recording act. It was shortly after that point that they decided to break up for, as Glenn explained, "I don't want to be 39 years old with a beer belly singing 'Take It Easy' because I need the money. I think there's a time and place for everything."
In 1982 Don Henley and Glenn Frey both embarked on solo careers. Frey had two Top 20 singles, "The One You Love" and "Sexy Girl," before a song written for the Eddie Murphy movie Beverly Hills Cop, "The Heat Is On," proved to be his ticket into the Top 10 in 1985. But it was Henley who would ultimately garner the greatest chart success. His swipe at the media, "Dirty Laundry," was a Top 5 single in 1982, as was "The Boys of Summer" in 1984. He won two Grammys for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Male, and in 1990 founded the Walden Woods Project, dedicated to preserving historic lands around Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts.
Although Don Henley had once made the Shermanesque statement that his contentious band would get back together "when hell freezes over," in 1994 he along with Frey, Walsh, Felder, and 1977 Eagle inductee Timothy B. Schmit decided to hit the road for the massively successful Hell Freezes Over tour. In November of that year the band released a album of the same name, which would rise to number one and sell over four million copies. The group's Greatest Hits, 1971-1975 album is one of the most popular rock albums ever released, selling over 22 million copies since 1995.
In 2015, after having been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, the Eagles were chosen for another prestigious honor, the Kennedy Center Honors which are awarded by the President in Washington, D.C. The band issued a statement saying that Glenn Frey had been battling intestinal issues, a recurring problem that would require "major surgery and a lengthy recovery period," and that they would be forced to postpone their appearance at the ceremony. On January 18, 2016, Glenn Frey became the first original Eagles member to pass away, from "complications of Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia." He was 67.
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