Despite their on-and-off career, and the deaths of some key members, the Eagles have endured like few other bands of their caliber. Because, ultimately, it’s about the songs. And it’s those songs that made the Eagles one of the world’s biggest bands of the 1970s. Before we get to the videos in this edition of the Throwback Threesome, we need to sort out who played for the Eagles and when.
Soaring in the ’70s
The Eagles might never have happened were it not for singer Linda Ronstadt hiring Glenn Frey (guitars, vocals), Don Henley (drums, vocals), Bernie Leadon (guitars, vocals), and Randy Meisner (bass guitar, vocals) as her L.A.-based band. The four backing musicians decided to form their own group in 1971. A year later, the Eagles released their self-titled debut album.
Here’s where it gets complicated so pay attention. Guitarist Don Felder joined the Eagles in 1974. Bernie Leadon departed in 1975. Joe Walsh came aboard as Leadon’s replacement that same year. Randy Meisner left following the Hotel California Tour in 1977. Timothy B Schmit was brought in to replace Meisner. Incidentally, Schmit had also replaced Meisner in the band Poco in 1969.
The 14-Year Vacation
In 1980, the Eagles called it quits and the band’s members embarked on solo careers. For years after that, Don Henley said that the group would get back together “when hell freezes over.” Well, that’s what happened in 1994. The Eagles reunited and put out a live album called Hell Freezes Over. At their first live performance since 1980, Glenn Frey said, “For the record, we never broke up, we just took a 14-year vacation.”
The reunited Eagles consisted of Frey, Henley, Walsh, Felder, and Schmit. However, Felder was fired in 2001. He responded by filing a $50 million lawsuit for wrongful termination, breach of implied-in-fact contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The matter was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount in 2007. Bernie Leadon returned to the fold in 2013.
The Eagles toured extensively until 2016 when founding member Glenn Frey died at the age of 67 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia. His own son, Deacon Frey, would eventually become a full-time member of the band. Country star Vince Gill also signed on in 2017.
On July 26, 2023, the Eagles’ lost another one of their founding members. The band’s original bassist, Randy Meisner, passed away at 77. After many years of struggles with his health, Meisner succumbed to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmit, Deacon Frey, and Vince Gill are going out on the road as the Eagles one last time. The Long Goodbye Tour runs from September through November 2023 and includes two stops in North Carolina. Fans can expect a ’70s-heavy set list and a flood of great memories. Let’s look back at three of the band’s classics.