Eagles A to Z

Original article from Gibson guitars

One of America’s most successful bands of all time, The Eagles surfaced from the folkie, hippie scene of the late ’60s in L.A. and turned their mellow, country-rock sound into a worldwide brand, culminating in the international epic “Hotel California.” Despite different members leaving over the years, the band continue to tour almost 40 years since they started out. The heart of the band, songwriters Glenn Frey and Don Henley, have been there since the beginning. Here’s a quick A to Z to shed light on a few Eagles facts you may not have known.

A – Anaheim. It was at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, that The Eagles first performed together as backup for country-rock queen Linda Ronstadt in 1971. Ronstadt was about to hit the big time after one hit record with the Stone Poneys in 1967 – Michael Nesmith’s “Different Drum.”

B – Boylan, John. An east coast record producer, John Boylan moved to California to produce The Association and The Dillards. Immersed in the burgeoning Troubadour singer-songwriter scene, he became both Linda Ronstadt’s boyfriend and her producer and recruited some players he knew – Randy Meisner, Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon to be Linda’s band.

C – Criteria Studios. These Miami recording studios were favored by the likes of Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers Band, AC/DC and Black Sabbath. Criteria Studios is where The Eagles laid down tracks for the breakthrough Hotel California (1977) album.

D – Desperado. The band’s second album, Desperado (1973) witnessed the flourishing writing partnership of Frey and Henley as they came up with eight of the 10 tracks. From this point on they would exert more control over the band’s sound and direction than Leadon and Meisner. It was a Wild West concept album, recorded in London, of all places, during a foggy, wet February with producer Glyn Johns (The Who).

E –“Earlybird.” This Bernie Leadon/Randy Meisner song features killer Leadon banjo playing – an element the band would distance themselves from as time passed.

F – Felder, Don. He was recruited during The Eagles’ recording session for On the Border by new producer Bill Szymczyk, who wanted a beefier, more electric cutting edge to the guitar sound. Felder had been playing with Graham Nash and David Crosby when The Eagles invited him to join the band just two days after he played on “Good Day in Hell.” It wouldn’t be long before Felder would come up with the music for the band’s mega-hit, “Hotel California.”

G – Glenn Frey. Glenn came to Hollywood from Detroit. A leather jacket-wearing street punk, he had been mentored by Bob Seger in the Motor City before trying his luck out west. His predilection for rock and R&B would push the band away from their country sound and turn The Eagles into a mainstream rock and roll band.

H – Henley, Don. The songwriting drummer brought with him a great love of country music that served him well when he headed to California, at the suggestion of Fellow Texan Kenny Rogers, with his band Shiloh. The band would fizzle but Henley, once he befriended Glenn Frey, would become one of the most powerful voices in popular music through the ’70s and beyond.

I – I. Party, Mr. This was Frey’s hotel pseudonym while on tour in Asia in 1992.

J – Jackson Brown. A fellow Los Angeles singer-songwriter, Brown knew Frey and Henley from the Troubadour club scene. A prodigious talent, he lived in the same Echo Park apartment complex as Frey and Henley in the early years and Frey would often hear Brown working on a song that would become The Eagles’ first big hit, “Take it Easy” and establish them as leaders of the country-rock scene.

K – Keel, Howard. Don Felder is an excellent golfer and even hosts his own tournament, the Howard Keel-Don Felder Golf Classic, named for himself and singer/actor Howard Keel.

L – Long Run, The. This was The Eagles’ final album before the band’s breakup in 1980. Seemingly daunted by the success and popularity of Hotel California, the band spent two years on this record trying to match the glory of their previous masterpiece. It was planned as a double album but they couldn’t produce enough material. It did however yield their fifth and final Billboard #1 single, “Heartache Tonight.”

M – Meisner, Randy. Randy was well established in the L.A. country-rock scene long before The Eagles came along. He’d been the harmony-singing bass player in proto-Eagles band Poco and played with Rick Nelson’s ultra-hip Stone Canyon Band.

N – Nielsen SoundScan. The media research firm’s 2007 year-end report announced that The Eagles’ Long Road Out of Eden was the top-selling album in 2007 by any group in the United States.

O – “Old Black.” That’s the name Frey gave to his faithful ’50s Les Paul Jr., a guitar that he purchased from buddy Jackson Browne.

P – Patti Davis. Ronald Reagan’s daughter was Bernie Leadon’s girlfriend around ’74-’75. She even co-wrote a song that turned up on One of These Nights (1975), much to the chagrin of Don Henley, who didn’t like her old man’s politics too much.

Q – Queen, Homecoming. The honor was bestowed on Glenn Frey’s wife Cindy in 1984 at Millikan High School in Long Beach, California.

R – “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” The 1968 track by Bob Seger featured young Glenn Frey playing guitar and singing backup.

S – Starr, Ringo. The former Beatle is the pretty famous brother-in-law of Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh. Walsh married Marjorie Bach, the sister of Ringo’s wife, Barbara Bach.

T – Troubadour, The. The Hollywood nightclub was home to most of L.A.’s singer-songwriters and country folkies in the mid- to late 1960s, from Bonnie Raitt and Neil Young to Linda Ronstadt and Stephen Stills, and of course, The Eagles.

U – Universal Pictures. The movie studio made The Eagles’ manager Irving Azoff’s 1978 FM movie. The movie did good business at the box office but the killer soundtrack album (featuring The Eagles’ “Life in the Fast Lane” and Joe Walsh’s “Life’s Been Good”) was a huge smash.

V – “Visions.” Don Felder’s only Eagles lead vocal was recorded for his first full album as an official band member, One of These Nights (1975).

W – Walsh, Joe. The guitarist came to The Eagles after a successful band and solo career. His previous band, The James Gang, had hits with “Walk Away” and “Funk #49” and were much beloved by Pete Townshend of The Who. Walsh had quite the reputation as a guitar hero by the time he teamed up with Felder to beef up The Eagles’ guitar sound.

X – “X” Eagles. Former members Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner joined the rest of the band for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. All Eagles then played two songs: “Take it Easy” and “Hotel California.”

Y – Yearwood, Trisha. Yearwood was a young country singer in Nashville in 1992, when she asked Don Henley to sing with her on her Hearts in Armor album. Their duet, “Walkaway Joe,” was a huge country hit.

Z – Zachariah. The 1971 surreal hippie western starred Joe Walsh and the rest of The James Gang, as well as a very young Don Johnson in the lead role.

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