The Eagles are an American rock band formed in Los Angeles, California during the early 1970s. With five number-one singles and six number-one albums, the Eagles were one of the most successful recording artists of the decade. At the end of the 20th century, two of their albums, Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975 and Hotel California, ranked among the ten best-selling albums according to the Recording Industry Association of America. The best-selling studio album Hotel California is rated as the thirty-seventh album in the Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and the band was ranked number 75 on the magazine's 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. They also have the best selling album in the U.S. to date with Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971–1975.
The Eagles broke up in 1980, but reunited in 1994 for Hell Freezes Over, a mix of live and new studio tracks. They have toured intermittently since then, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
In 2007, the Eagles released Long Road out of Eden, their first full studio album in 28 years.
Their second album, Desperado, was themed on Old West outlaws, drawing comparisons between their lifestyles and the lifestyles of modern rock stars. This album introduced the group's penchant for conceptual songwriting. It was during the recording sessions that Don Henley and Glenn Frey began writing with each other, co-writing eight of the album's eleven songs. Included are two of the Eagles' most popular songs: "Tequila Sunrise" and "Desperado" were both written by Henley and Frey. The bluegrass songs "Twenty-One," "Doolin' Dalton" and the ballad "Saturday Night" showcased guitarist Bernie Leadon's abilities on the banjo, fingerpicked guitar and mandolin. Throughout the album, the story of the notorious Wild West "Doolin-Dalton" gang was the main focus, featuring in the songs "Doolin-Dalton," "Bittercreek" and "Desperado." The album was less successful than the first, reaching only number 41 on the U.S. pop album charts, and yielding only two singles, "Tequila Sunrise," which reached No. 61 on the Billboard charts, and "Outlaw Man," which peaked at No. 59.
The album marked a significant change to the band, with Henley and Frey co-writing the bulk of the album, a pattern that would continue for years to come. As a result, the pair began to dominate the band in terms of leadership and songwriting, turning the focus of the band away from Leadon and Meisner. Ironically, many had thought that it would be Leadon and Meisner who would be leading the band.
By this time, members of the band had started to fight with each other. Recording and touring had been strained since the eponymous debut album; tempers were boiling over, and egos were clashing. Between the release of One of These Nights and the subsequent tour, Bernie Leadon left the group, disillusioned with the direction the band's music was taking. They were no longer concentrating on the country rock in which Leadon excelled and the hiring of Don Felder meant that Leadon's role had been significantly diminished. Leadon was also dating Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter, at the time – the two of them had co-written "I Wish You Peace" on the album – which created political tensions within the group. Leadon left the band in December 1975, famously announcing his resignation by pouring a beer over Frey's head. In order to continue with their tour schedule, the group quickly replaced Leadon with Joe Walsh, a veteran of such groups as the James Gang and Barnstorm and a solo artist in his own right, who (like the Eagles) was produced by Szymczyk and managed by Irving Azoff.
Meanwhile, in early 1976, Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) was released. It went on to become the best-selling album in U.S. history, selling over 29 million copies in the United States to date.
The group's next album, Hotel California, came out in December 1976. "New Kid in Town" was a No. 1 hit in Billboard on February 26, 1977, and the title track on May 7, 1977. Told during a 60 Minutes interview (November 25, 2007) that "everyone wants to know what this song [Hotel California] means," Don Henley replied, "I know, it's so boring... It's a song about the dark underbelly of the American Dream, and about excess in America, which was something we knew about." "Life in the Fast Lane" was also a major success, becoming a catchphrase in the process and established Joe Walsh's position in the band with its more hard rock sound. The ballad "Wasted Time" closed the first side of the album, while an instrumental reprise of it opened the second side. The album concluded with "The Last Resort," the song Frey, to this day, refers to as Don Henley's greatest work. The run out groove on side two has the words "V.O.L. Is Five-Piece Live", this means that the song "Victim of Love" was recorded live, with just the band and no overdubbing. Don Henley confirms this on the inner booklet of The Very Best of the Eagles. Hotel California has appeared on several lists of the best albums of all time. It is also their best-selling studio album, with over 16 million copies sold to date in the United States.
After the tour, Randy Meisner left the band and moved back to his native Nebraska, where he began a solo career. The band replaced Meisner with the man who had succeeded him in Poco, Timothy B. Schmit. In 1977, the group, minus Don Felder, performed some instrumental work and backing vocals for Randy Newman's album Little Criminals.
On July 31, 1980, in Long Beach, California, tempers boiled over into what has been described as "Long Night at Wrong Beach. Frey and Felder spent the entire show describing to each other the beating each planned to administer backstage. "Only three more songs until I kick your ass, pal," Frey recalls Felder telling him near the end of the band's set. Felder recalls Frey making a similar threat to him just as they began to sing "The Best Of My Love."
It appeared to be the end of the Eagles, although the band still owed Warner Bros. a live record from the tour. Eagles Live (released in November 1980) was mixed by Frey and Henley on opposite coasts; the two decided they couldn't bear to be in the same state, let alone the same studio, and as Bill Szymczyk put it,"The record's perfect three-part harmonies were fixed courtesy of Federal Express." With credits that listed no fewer than five attorneys, the album's liner notes simply said, "Thank you and goodnight."
Walsh tried continuing his solo career, which included the hits, 1973's "Rocky Mountain Way" and 1978's "Life's Been Good", but found hits hard to come by after the breakup. 1981's album, There Goes the Neighborhood was considerably successful, but successive albums throughout the 1980s, such as Got Any Gum? proved to be mediocre. During this time he also performed as a session musician for Dan Fogelberg, Steve Winwood and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, among others, and produced and co-wrote Ringo Starr's "Old Wave" album.
Don Henley turned out to have the greatest solo success of the five during this period. In 1982, he released the well-received I Can't Stand Still, featuring the hit "Dirty Laundry." The first album paled in comparison, though, to his next release, 1984's smash, Building the Perfect Beast. Off of this album came the Billboard No. 5 hit and classic rock radio staple, "Boys of Summer." It also yielded the No. 9 hit "All She Wants to Do Is Dance", "Not Enough Love In The World" (#34) and "Sunset Grill" (#22). He would not release another album for five years until 1989's The End of the Innocence. This album was also a major success and included the hits "The End of the Innocence," "The Last Worthless Evening" and "The Heart of the Matter". His solo career was cut short however because of a contract dispute with his record company which was not resolved until the Eagles reunited in 1994.
Glenn Frey also found solo success in the 1980s. In 1982, he released his first album, No Fun Aloud, which spawned the No. 15 hit, "The One You Love." He followed this album with 1984's The Allnighter, which featured the No. 20 hit "Sexy Girl." He reached No. 2 on the charts with "The Heat Is On" from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. He had another No. 2 single in 1985 with "You Belong to the City" from the Miami Vice soundtrack, which featured another Frey song, "Smuggler's Blues." He also contributed the songs "Flip City" to the Ghostbusters II soundtrack and "Part of Me, Part of You" to the soundtrack for Thelma and Louise.
In 1982, former music writer turned filmmaker, Cameron Crowe, saw his first screenplay turn into a feature length movie, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Crowe was a fan and had written about the Eagles in one of his articles, and as a result, Henley, Walsh, Schmit, and Felder all contributed solo songs to the film's soundtrack. In addition, the band playing the dance toward the end of the movie covers Life in the Fast Lane.
Don Felder also released a solo album, and contributed 2 songs to the soundtrack of the movie Heavy Metal: "Heavy Metal (Takin' A Ride)" (with Henley and Schmit providing backing vocals) and "All of You".
Timothy B. Schmit had a top-40 hit in 1987 with "Boys' Night Out".
In 1998, the Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. During the induction ceremony, Frey, Henley, Felder, Walsh and Schmit performed together, and former members Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner rejoined the band for the performance, where the band played "Take It Easy" and "Hotel California." Several subsequent reunion tours followed (without Leadon or Meisner), notable for their record-setting ticket prices.
The concert was released on CD as part of the four-disc Selected Works: 1972-1999 box set in November 2000. Along with the millennium concert, this set included the band's hit singles, album tracks, as well as outtakes from The Long Run sessions. Selected Works sold approximately 267,000 copies at about $60 a unit.
The group resumed touring once more in 2001 with a line up consisting of Frey, Henley, Walsh, and Schmit, along with Steuart Smith (guitars, mandolin, keyboards, backing vocals; who unofficially replaced Don Felder who was fired from the Eagles in early 2001), Michael Thompson (keyboards, trombone), Will Hollis (keyboards, backing vocals), Scott Crago (drums, percussion), Bill Armstrong (Horns) Al Garth (sax, violin), Christian Mostert (sax) and Greg Smith (sax, percussion)
In his latter complaint, Felder alleged that from the 1994 Hell Freezes Over tour onward, Henley and Frey had "... insisted that they each receive a higher percentage of the band's profits ...", whereas the money had previously been split in five equal portions. Felder also accused them of coercing him into signing an agreement under which Henley and Frey would receive three times as much of the Selected Works: 1972-1999 proceeds than Felder.
On behalf of his clients Henley and Frey, attorney Daniel M. Petrocelli stated:
[Henley and Frey] felt — creatively, chemistry-wise and performance-wise — that he should no longer be part of the band.... They removed him, and they had every legal right to do so. This has been happening with rock 'n' roll bands since day one.It was also reported that Don Felder usually did not agree with the rest of the band concerning touring or recording schedules. The rest of the band members wanted the freedom to tour or record as they wanted on their own terms.
Henley and Frey then counter-sued Felder for breach of contract, alleging that Felder had written and attempted to sell the rights to a "tell-all" book. The book, Heaven and Hell, was published in the United Kingdom on November 1, 2007, but the initial American release was originally canceled after publisher Hyperion elected to back out, in September, when an entire print run of the book had to be recalled for further cuts and changes. The American edition of Heaven and Hell is now slated for publication by John Wiley & Sons on April 28, 2008, with Felder embarking on a full publicity campaign surrounding its release.
On June 14, 2005, the Eagles released a new two-DVD set titled Farewell 1 Tour-Live from Melbourne featuring two new songs: Glenn Frey's "No More Cloudy Days" and Joe Walsh's "One Day at a Time." A special edition 2006 release exclusive to Wal-Mart and affiliated stores also included a bonus audio CD with three new songs: a studio version of "No More Cloudy Days" plus "Fast Company" and "Do Something.
On October 30, 2007, the Eagles released Long Road out of Eden, their first album of all-new material since 1979. For the first year after the album's initial release, it will be available in the United States exclusively via the band's website, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club stores, and commercially available through traditional retail outlets in other countries. The album debuted at No. 1 in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands and Norway. It subsequently became their third studio album, seventh release overall, to be certified at least seven times platinum.
In an interview with CNN, Don Henley declared, "This is probably the last Eagles album that we'll ever make.
On January 28, 2008, the second single off Long Road Out of Eden was released. "Busy Being Fabulous" peaked at number 30 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart and at number 18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.
On February 10, 2008, the Eagles won the Grammy Award for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "How Long." It was the band's fifth Grammy Award.
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