The Eagles Front to Back - Beginning To End?

On this day in 1972 the Eagles began recording their first album in London.  The band of musicians who had straggled into L.A. from various parts of the country formed a tight unit furthering the country-rock fascinations of the early-seventies Byrds and its offshoot The Flying Burrito Brothers.  Certainly that style would only continue to grow and become a household word in future years, but in '72 country-rock was still an anomaly. 

 Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner started recording their first release in London, of all places; far away from the home base of country-rock in the early 70's (although it can be successfully argued that there were country musicians in Nashville at the time working from their own twangy genre over towards a more rockin' delivery).  The group needed to be near producer Glyn Johns comfort zone; as a skilled English studio rat, he'd guided the Who towards completion of the (very difficult to finish) "Who's Next" album the previous year.

So, "The Eagles" did not take long to record and hit store shelves ('cuz that's what they did in those days) on June 17, 1972, becoming a strongly-selling debut that launched three Top 40 singles and sold over a million.  How did the subsequent Eagles fare against this strong debut?  Chart and sales information come from "Billboard" magazine.  

1.  "The Eagles"   June 17, 1972.  1st album was an immediate hit once Glenn Frey & Jackson Browne's breezy "Take it Easy" cruised onto radios across America in the early summer.  That song made it to #12 on the charts and a followup, "Witchy Woman sung by Don Henley, went even further to #9.  Three months later the mellow "Peaceful Easy Feeling" returned the band to the Top 40, peaking at #22.  An auspicious beginning!

2.  "Desperado"   April 17, 1973   The sophomore release was a loose concept album that initially fell flat, with no big hit singles crowding the airwaves.  The album only reached #41 on the album sales chart, but in time began to sell widely as FM radio fell in love with the title track and later fans began searching the Eagles' back catalog.  Went double Platinum...eventually.

3.  "On the Border"  March 22, 1974   The band added guitarist Don Felder on the third album, although he arrived late in the process and is only featured on a couple songs.  One of those was "Already Gone," an aggressive rocker that took the band down the dusty trail a long way from country.  The record also featured "Best of My love," the Eagles first #1 single, galloping the album past two-million sold.

4.  "One of These Nights"   June 10, 1975   The fourth album set the stage for the Eagles ascent to legendary status.  It was their first #1 album as the songwriters came up with big wins - three huge hit singles.  The title track with its rhythmic feel took it into the dance clubs, uniting with Top 40 play to hit #1.  In "Lyin' Eyes" Glenn Frey sang about "...the cheatin' part of town," reaching #2 on the singles' chart while a third release "Take it to the Limit," bassist Randy Meisner's centerpiece, got to #4.  The album went four times Platinum.

5.  "Eagles/Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975"  February 17, 1976    It was taking the Eagles a long time to finish their next studio album, so the record label put this one out.  It is currently the second-biggest selling album of all time in America (behind Michael Jackson' "Thriller") with 29-million sold!     

6.  "Hotel California"    December 8, 1976    This is the essential Eagles release.  Joe Walsh had replaced Bernie Leadon, further toughening the group's sound, yet the lead single was the ballad "New Kid in Town."  It went to #1 as did the followup title track two months later. A third single "Life in the Fast Lane" defined the band's tough new three-guitar lineup and went to #11.  Good enough to sell sixteen-million copies!

7.  "The Long Run"   September 24, 1979   The record label offered the band a million-dollar bonus if they could finish this by the end of '78.  They couldn't.  But, it was worth the wait, selling 7 million copies and becoming the group's fourth consecutive #1 album on the strength of three top 10 singles.  "Heartache Tonight," co-written with Bob Seger, got to #1. The title track made it to #8, as did new bassist Timothy B. Schmidt's showcase "I Can't Tell You Why."  

8.  "Eagles Live"   November 7, 1980   The previous studio release and subsequent tour, plus various personal indulgences, burnt the band members out so badly they broke up.  Nobody knew it when this double album appeared.  It went seven times Platinum and broke a #21 hits single "Seven Bridges Road."

9.  "Greatest Hits Volume 2"  November 13, 1982   It looked like the Eagles might not be coming back at the time, so the label put together a second hits package which sold big - 11-million copies!  By the way, the band wasn't coming back, at least "until hell freezes over,"  as Don Henley mentioned in an interview.

10.  "Hell Freezes Over"  November 8, 1994   So, the impossible happened and the members mended their fences to record a live concert in 1994.  Combined with four new studio tracks, the release and the Eagles were welcomed back with open arms.  Despite no big hits singles, the album went to #1, sold 9-million copies and spun off a best-selling DVD.

11.  "Long Road Out of Eden" October 30, 2007   Just when it seemed that the Eagles, who were quite active on the touring circuit, would never put out a new album of studio material, this double-CD set appeared.  Don Felder had been kicked out of the band six years earlier and music written by the four remaining Eagles: Henley, Frey, Walsh, and Schmidt was surprisingly fresh and strong.  "How Long," a song the band had performed in its earliest days, was finally recorded and released as the first single. This double album would sell 3.5 million copies and be certified 7 times Platinum.  Glenn Frey passed away in 2016, making this a worthy release to be called the Eagles' last. But, could there be another?  

Stay tuned.


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