Origin: Los Angeles, California
Years Active: 1971–80, 1994–present
Members: Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Smitch, Bernie Leadon
The Eagles are one of the world’s best-selling bands of all time, having sold more than 150 million records[—100 million in the U.S. alone—including 42 million copies of Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) and 32 million copies of Hotel California. “Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)” was the best selling album of the 20th century in the U.S. They are the fifth-highest-selling music act and the highest-selling American band in U.S. history.
The Eagles started life as Linda Ronstadt’s backing band, where Glenn Frey and Don Henley cut their teeth. In 1972, they recorded their self-titled debut album with former Flying Burrito Brother Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, a veteran of another country-rock band, Poco. By the middle of the decade – accompanied by some lineup changes, including the addition of guitarists Don Felder and Joe Walsh – the Eagles were one of the biggest bands in the world.
Their 1976 greatest-hits album still ranks among the bestselling LPs ever released. In 1976, the band made its masterpiece, ‘Hotel California,’ about death and decadence in the Hollywood scene that nurtured them. In 1982, among much animosity, they broke up, but they reunited in 1994 for a series of tours and albums that have kept them busy and rolling in cash in the 21st century.
The Eagles released their self-titled debut album in 1972, which spawned three top 40 singles: “Take It Easy“, “Witchy Woman“, and “Peaceful Easy Feeling“. Their next album, Desperado (1973), was less successful than the first, only reaching number 41 on the charts; neither of its singles reached the top 40. However, the album contained two of the band’s most popular tracks: “Desperado” and “Tequila Sunrise”. They released On the Border in 1974, adding guitarist Don Felder as its fifth member midway through the recording of the album. The album generated two top 40 singles: “Already Gone” and their first number one, “Best of My Love”.
Their 1975 album One of These Nights included three top 10 singles: “One of These Nights”, “Lyin’ Eyes”, and “Take It to the Limit”, the first hitting the top of the charts. The Eagles continued that success and hit their commercial peak in late 1976 with the release of Hotel California, which would go on to sell more than 16 million copies in the U.S. alone and more than 32 million copies worldwide. The album yielded two number-one singles, “New Kid in Town” and “Hotel California”. They released their last studio album for nearly 28 years in 1979 with The Long Run, which spawned three top 10 singles: “Heartache Tonight”, “The Long Run”, and “I Can’t Tell You Why”, the lead single being another chart-topping hit.
The Eagles disbanded in July 1980 but reunited in 1994 for the album Hell Freezes Over, a mix of live and new studio tracks. They have toured consistently 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 and their sixth number one album. The next year they launched the Long Road Out of Eden Tour in support of the album. In 2013, they began the extended History of the Eagles Tour in conjunction with the band’s documentary release, History of the Eagles.
Glenn Frey, a founding member of the rock band the Eagles, has died at 67, in January 2016.
There is no greater example of the Eagles’ ultimate place in music history than an insult delivered in “The Big Lebowski,” the Coen Brothers’ icon of cool. In a seminal scene, The Dude (Jeff Bridges) gets into a cab only to be insulted by Frey singing “Peaceful Easy Feeling” over that countrified guitar. He asks the driver to change the station, saying, “Man, I’ve had a rough night and I hate the Eagles!”
He gets thrown out of the cab by the driver, who clearly doesn’t care about music, but just wanted to take it easy.
A sportscar with hot woman drives by playing “Viva Las Vegas.”
That’s all that the Coen Brothers needed to say.