Take It to the Limit
One thing they didn't do was take it easy. In the decade before their 1980 breakup, the Eagles put out six platinum albums and a greatest hits LP that has sold 29 million copies. Here are 24 cool facts about the band that created the quintessential California soundtrack for the '70s.
They're Not a Californian Band
Despite being known for their West Coast sound, not a single original band member is a California native. Only bass player Timothy B. Schmit, the last to join the Eagles, grew up in the state.
They Started as Backup Players
Glenn Frey and Don Henley first played together behind Linda Ronstadt, and they became close, sharing hotel rooms on tour. As Ronstadt recalled in her 2014 memoir, "Glenn used to call Don his secret weapon. He said, 'I'm gonna do a band with Don ...' I said, 'That's a great idea.'
If Bob Seger Had His Way, the Eagles Might Never Have Happened
When Glenn Frey was just a teenager, Bob Seger offered him a spot playing guitar in his band. But when Frey's mom caught him smoking weed, she stopped young Glenn from joining Seger. (To hear Seger's 2016 tribute to Glenn Frey, click here.)
Don Henley's Hero Is Ringo Starr
Citing the Beatles drummer as a key influence who never got his due, Henley said, "Ringo Starr is one of the best rock and roll drummers ever."
The Band Rehearsed in Linda Ronstadt's Living Room
Ronstadt was living with fellow musician J.D. Souther at the time. At her suggestion, the fledgling Eagles brought in Bernie Leadon, and Souther directed them to Randy Meisner. (It wasn't until 1974 that the fifth Eagle, Don Felder, came aboard.) Ronstadt remembers "coming home one day and they had rehearsed 'Witchy Woman' and they had all the harmonies worked out, four-part harmonies. ... I knew it was gonna be a hit."
They Weren't Always the Eagles
Their first gig was at The Gallery in Aspen in October 1971. Since they hadn't yet settled on a name, the band performed as Teen King and the Emergencies.
Trouble Started Early
By 1975, after the release of "One of These Nights," artistic disagreements between Bernie Leadon and Glenn Frey had grown so intense that Leadon quit the band. He was replaced by Joe Walsh (seen here in 1979).
A President's Daughter Co-wrote an Eagles Song
The last song that Leadon wrote with the band was "I Wish You Peace." He got help writing it from his girlfriend Patti Davis, the daughter of Ronald Reagan.
They Objected to the Release of Their Best-selling Album
In between the 1975 album "One of These Nights" and 1976's "Hotel California," Asylum Records released "Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975" with little or no input from the Eagles. Band members didn't like the idea, but it paid off big time. The record went 29-times platinum and remains one of the best-selling albums of all time, surpassed in the U.S. only by Michael Jackson's "Thriller."
"Hotel California" Had Another Title
Don Felder worked out the tune while sitting in his bathing suit in an idyllic beach house in Malibu, and when Glenn Frey heard it, he enthusiastically described the sound as "electric Mexican reggae" The song's working title—before Frey and Don Henley wrote the lyrics—became "Mexican Reggae."
The Eagles' Signature Song Got Jethro Tull's attention
When Jethro Tull front man Ian Anderson first heard "Hotel California," he thought it sounded a lot like "We Used to Know," a track from his band's 1969 album "Stand Up." "Maybe it was just something they kind of picked up on subconsciously," Anderson said graciously, declining to make a fuss.
"Life in the Fast Lane" Was a Literal Reference
The song emerged from a harrowing ride in a Corvette that Glenn Frey had gone on with his drug dealer. "I was riding shotgun," Frey explained years later. "We're doing 90. He grins and goes, 'Life in the fast lane!' I thought, 'Now there's a song title.'"
Don Henley Traveled With His Own Bed
"He insisted on having a king-size bed and mattress available at all times, which the crew had to drag around everywhere," a crew member said of Henley. "The tour seamstress made a special cover for it, with handles, to make it easier to pack it in the truck every night."
They Were a No-Show at the Grammys
"Hotel California," was a favorite to win 1978's Record of the Year, but the band refused an invitation to perform at the 20th Grammy Awards, reportedly because their manager wanted a guarantee that they'd win. The album did win the Grammy, but host Andy Williams had no one to present the award to.
The Eagles Had Side Jobs
In 1977, some band members collaborated with Randy Newman on his album "Little Criminals." The track "Short People"—Newman's biggest hit—includes vocals by both Glenn Frey and Timothy B. Schmit.
They Ran Out of Steam
The 1979 LP "The Long Run" was supposed to be a double album, but the band couldn't come up with enough songs to fill four sides. It wound up being the Eagles' final album before their breakup up in 1980.
The Breakup Was Ugly
There was no peaceful, easy feeling when Eagles performed their last concert before the breakup in Long Beach, California, Glenn Frey and Don Felder openly threatened each other and nearly came to blows on stage. As Frey later recalled, "We're out there singing 'Best of My Love,' but inside both of us are thinking, 'As soon as this is over, I'm gonna kill him.' That was when I knew I had to get out."
Hell Froze Over
Don Henley often said that the Eagles would reunite "when hell freezes over." So when the band did get back together in 1994, after a 14-year hiatus, they hit the road on the "Hell Freezes OverTour."
They Broke a Price Barrier
It was on the "Hell Freezes Over Tour" that concert tickets first reached $100—and higher—giving another meaning to "take it to the limit." The tour moved 3.4 million tickets, making it one of the most successful ever.
Glenn Frey Hated "The Big Lebowski"
Remember the scene in the taxi where the Dude (Jeff Bridges) says how much he hates the Eagles? Pretty funny, right? Well, Glenn Frey was not amused. Bridges recalls an uncomfortable run-in with Frey after the Coen brothers' 1998 comedy was released: "I can't remember what he said exactly, but you know, my anus tightened a bit."
They Did Something Unprecedented at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
In 1998, when the Eagles were inducted into theRock and Roll Hall of Fame, all seven past and present band members (from left, Randy Meisner, Timothy Schmit, Glenn Frey, Don Felder, Joe Walsh, Don Henley and Bernie Leadon) performed together for the first time.
Bad Blood Kept Flowing
The Eagles fired Don Felder in 2001, and he turned around and sued the band the following year. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.
Life Goes On
After Glenn Frey's death in 2016 at the age of 67, Don Henley said the band would likely never perform again. But hell froze over again, and now the Eagles are kicking off a new concert series with a new band member—Frey's son, Deacon.
They're Number One
The Eagles are the highest-selling American band in music history. They've sold over 150 million records worldwide.
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