It's Eagles, Not 'The' Eagles: Facts And Trivia About The '70s Rockers
The Eagles may not have invented country rock, but Glenn Frey, Don Henley and company can certainly be credited with helping to spread the local Los Angeles genre throughout the entire world during the 1970s. What began as a backing band eventually took the world by storm with some of the most popular albums of all time. As the psychedelic trends were dying, the Eagles transformed the spirit of the ‘60s into a new era of free-spiritedness -- a life of peaceful easy feelings and tequila sunrises. With members who came from all different country and rock bands, the Eagles proved to be a significant piece of California and American music history.
Glenn Frey Couldn’t Play In Bob Seger’s Band Because They Were Caught Smoking Weed
The story of the Eagles begins with frontman Glenn Frey. Growing up in Michigan, Frey played in small bands throughout the ‘60s including The Mushrooms and The Four of Us. He made a substantial career shift when he met rocker Bob Seger in 1967, the musician who helped Frey secure a management contract with the label Hideout Records. Frey would have actually joined Seger’s band had his mother not caught the pair smoking weed together. Frey continued to work with Seger by providing acoustic guitar and background vocals on Seger’s solo hits "Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man," "Fire Lake," and "Against The Wind." Seger recognized Frey’s undeniable talent and was the one who encouraged Frey to step out on his own and start writing originals. In 1968, Frey made the big move to Los Angeles where he met and moved in with fellow musicians Jackson Browne and J.D. Souther. As anyone can imagine, the days and nights in this home were full of writing and recording music. Browne especially helped Frey immensely with songwriting and even wrote the future Eagles hit "Take It Easy" during their days as roommates.
The Eagles Started As Linda Ronstadt’s Backing Band
In Los Angeles, Frey signed with Amos Records in 1970. Most of his time was spent checking out new bands at local club The Troubadour where he eventually met Don Henley, a musician who was also signed with Amos. Henley came from a small Texas country rock band called Shiloh, who were mentored and adored by famed country singer Kenny Rogers. Henley and Frey began working on music together as well until record producer John Boylan recruited the two to play in a backing band for popular singer Linda Ronstadt on her 1971 tour. They would also eventually be joined by Bernie Leadon and bassist Randy Meisner. Leadon’s impressive country rock experience included playing in bluegrass band The Scottsville Squirrel Bakers, Dillard & Clark, and The Flying Burrito Brothers while Meisner came from Poco. Since Ronstadt’s personnel was always changing, these four members only played together at the same time once at a Disneyland gig. During the show, the chemistry was indisputable and the group decided to leave Ronstadt and bark upon their own band endeavors.
The Eagles released their self-titled debut album in 1972 and brought the California casual sounds to the rest of the country. "Take It Easy," "Witchy Woman," and "Peaceful Easy Feeling" all made their way into the top 40 and they continued to rock the charts during the rest of the ‘70s. There has been much dispute over whether they go by “The Eagles” or “Eagles” but Frey has made it clear there is no “the.” Comedian Steve Martin cleared up the confusion in his book Born Standing Up when he wrote about a story that occurred at The Troubadour. "One night I was lingering at the bar and talking to Glenn Frey, who was just leaving his duo, Longbranch Pennywhistle. He said he was considering a name for his new five-man group. ‘What is it?’ I said. He said, ‘Eagles.’ I said, 'You mean, The Eagles?’ and he said, ‘No, Eagles.’"
With all due respect to the late Mr. Frey -- everyone calls them The Eagles.
Joe Walsh Turned The Eagles From California Country To Rock ‘N’ Roll
The Eagles sound changed as much as their members rotated in and out. Leadon is credited as the member who shaped the early Eagles’ sound for the band because of his vast experience in country bands. His harmony, country, bluegrass, and acoustic styles provided that typical California sound. When Don Felder was recruited to provide slide guitar and some solos for "A Good Day In Hell," the band was so impressed they asked him to join permanently. With Felder on the team, the band slowly strayed away from country-folk and headed in a rockier direction. Things really spiced up when former James Gang member Joe Walsh replaced Leadon making the Eagles a full stadium rock band with his hard-driven licks and his personal lifestyle.
The Eagles were making headlines not only for their music, but also because of Walsh’s destructive behavior such as throwing furniture out of windows and completely destroying hotel rooms. With Walsh’s help, the Eagles released their greatest masterpiece album Hotel California in 1976. Blending country together with rock ‘n’ roll and pop into sophisticated melodies that had never been heard before, the group made one of their most popular albums.
There's little doubt as to their top seller. The same year Hotel California was released, their manager Irving Azoff released Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) without any input from the band. Although the album stayed at number 1 on the charts for five weeks, the group was not pleased as they felt it was just a ploy by the record company to make some extra cash. In fact, it did just that, year after year. With over 40 million copies sold, the Eagles' Greatest Hits ranks as one of the top ten best-selling albums of all time, alongside such behemoths as Michael Jackson's Thriller, Meat Loaf's Bat Out Of Hell and AC/DC's Back In Black.
Soon after, Meisner left the band and was replaced by former Poco member Timothy B. Schmidt.
The Eagles Entered A New Era When The 1980s Struck
As new wave and punk took over the charts in the 1980s, the Eagles' popularity dwindled. Most of the members focused on solo careers that could never match up to the success of their full band, so they eventually reunited occasionally touring and releasing new albums. Today, The Eagles are still considered one of the greatest and most memorable bands in history, especially as California icons. Frey passed away in 2016, but his son Deacon Frey fills his role as the band continues to tour in the present day.