History of the Eagles

EaglesThe music business has wildly changed since I was in high school and the Eagles were in their heyday. If you were lucky enough to have your parents agree to let you use the car, the first order of business was finding the rock station on the radio. And, believe it or not, I’m talking about AM radio, as FM was an extra in those days. It was a special kind of magic to have a song you liked come on the radio while you had possession of the car and not, say, Disco Duck by Rick Dees.

It was heaven to drive along listening to Rhiannon (Fleetwood Mac), I’ll Be Good To You (Brothers Johnson), Golden Years (David Bowie) or Lowdown (Boz Scaggs). It was a drag to suffer through Let Her In (John Travolta), I’m Easy (Keith Carradine) or Afternoon Delight (Starland Vocal Band).

We didn’t have a lot of choice in those days.

And, it was among this mixture that the Eagles came onto my adolescent sound mix with songs like Take It To The Limit, The Best Of My Love and Hotel California.

I don’t dislike Eagles music, in fact watching Showtime’s History of the Eagles it was enjoyable to listen to the songs, but I wasn’t a fan. What’s interesting to me is how much I know about a band that I could take or leave – probably because of the limited choices at that time in my life.

What I didn’t remember was that Don Henley rocked a righteous fro back in the day. There is some wonderful footage of Henley and Frey when they played back up for Linda Ronstadt and Henley’s fro is almost as big as the drum kit.

The Eagles were always a band known for excess and contentiousness, and you get a good glimpse of what it was like: there’s footage of after parties (sleazily but apparently accurately dubbed ‘spread eagle’) and there’s footage of onstage sniping.

(Speaking of excess – Joe Walsh learned how to trash hotel rooms from Keith Moon.)

It was interesting to hear the various members talk about the collaboration and creation of songs like Hotel California, Take It Easy, and Life In The Fast Lane.

I was fascinated by the story of having Bill Szymczyk replace Glyn Johns as producer. Szmczyk, before finding work as a music engineer, was in the US Navy and worked on a submarine as a sonar operator.

Part 2 is on Showtime tonight (watch trailer here) and I’ll be watching.

Available from Amazon.com: History of the Eagles [3DVD]

Further Reading:

The History of the Eagles and Sound City: Recapturing the (Allegedly) Good Old Days

The Eagles document their complicated history in 2-part film on Showtime