Eagles Band History

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Underrated gets thrown around a lot in the music industry, but I don’t think any rock band in music history encapsulates this more than The Eagles. Everyone always talks about The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and The Rolling Stones, but did you know that The Eagles are right alongside them when it comes to the highest-selling bands of all time?

It took me a while to get into The Eagles. I was a 90s kid, so I had my dad try and instill all of his classic rock knowledge into me while I was trying to explain the musical genius of Limp Bizkit to him. I have since realized the error of my ways and embraced some of the bands he tried to get me into.

The Eagles are one of the most musically diverse rock bands of all time. You can find country vibes, hard rock vibes, or pop vibes on any given song. With a collection of singers and guitarists capable of harnessing solo careers, they came together to create something truly powerful and unique.

I’m going to take you through the history of this massively successful band that, for whatever reason, never gets the proper respect that they deserve. There is a lot to get through with this band as it had several powerful personalities and twists and turns along the way, but regardless, they were able to agree with each other enough of the time to create some of the greatest songs of all time.

Quick Facts

  • Members: Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey, Don Felder, Randy Meisner
  • Years Active: 1971-1980, 1993-Present
  • Origin: American
  • Most Successful Album/ Song: Hotel California/ Hotel California
  • Genres:  Country Rock, Hard Rock
  • Social Media: Instagram  Facebook Twitter
  • Awards: Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals (1976), Grammy Award for Record of the Year, Grammy Award for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices (1978), Grammy Award for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (1980), Grammy Award for Best Country Performance (2008), Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance (2009)
  • Last Updated: 2022

The Band Members

Band members


Don Henley

Maybe the most well-known member of The Eagles, Don Henley, is one of the most iconic voices in music history. He is a key piece to the band and one of their primary songwriters, along with being one of the rhythm guitarists as well.

Regarding his legacy, the song “Hotel California” is likely the one he’s most known for, as it’s one of the most popular songs of all time. He’s also the original drummer for the band as well, making his contributions all the more important.

Joe Walsh

One of the best songwriters, guitarists, and singers out there, Joe Walsh, is as important a member as any when it comes to The Eagles. He’s had an amazing solo career and is the driving soul of The Eagle’s multiple guitar attack.

He’s known alongside some of the all-time greats regarding guitar players, and whether it’s fierce riffs or elaborate solos, Joe Walsh can truly do it all.

Glenn Frey

Another one of the lead guitarists and singers for The Eagles, Glenn Frey, was known as one of the primary songwriters alongside Don Henley in The Eagles. Although Don Henley might be the more well-known of the two, Glenn Frey took the lead on many occasions, featuring as the lead singer on some of their most popular songs.

Don Felder

The Eagles have one of the most powerful live sounds ever, thanks to their army of guitars. Don Felder was arguably the general of that army once he joined the band in 1974 and went on to have a solo career.

Alongside Joe Walsh, they formed an electric combo that no other band could contend with. Don Felder is known for creating the now iconic music for “Hotel California.”

Randy Meisner

The band would not be complete without a bassist who could keep in rhythm with the ultra-talented Don Henley, and Randy Meisner was just the man for the job. He was one of the songwriters as well and wrote one of their hits, “Take It to the Limit.” He ultimately wasn’t one for the touring schedule that The Eagles maintained, though.

The Early Years and Formation

Young band members

Many bands have a pretty rocky start together, but The Eagles would save the rockiness for the later years. Initially, it was just Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and a dream. The two had known each other as part of the same music community.

They were brought together by Linda Ronstadt, an established, award-winning singer in her own right, and John Boylan, her manager, decided to create a band for Linda.

Little did she know, the two would become super close while on the road together, leading to the beginning of The Eagles. You have to feel a little bit for Linda here.

She was recruiting two incredibly talented musicians to take her music to the next level and, in the process, indirectly put together the two founding members of The Eagles. I mean, Linda went on to be incredibly successful herself, but still, that’s a tough one to swallow at the time, I bet.

From there, Heney and Frey recruited Randy Meisner on Bass, and they also had guitarist Bernie Leadon on board, and thus, the founding members of The Eagles were formed.

Instant Success

Shockingly, The Eagles were an immediate success. They were signed to David Geffen’s Asylum Records and sent off to become the band Geffen believed they could become.

Funnily enough, The Eagles had no name at the point. They were just four guys with a ton of musical chemistry, but the name would evade them for some time. Their first concert together was under the name Teen King, but that name was quickly scrapped after a famous drug trip got the band their real name.

During a day of Peyote and tequila, the group was out in the Mojave Desert, and a bunch of eagles flew overhead. Then Glenn Frey shouted, “Eagles!” Apparently, that was that. It gets a bit muddy here as they were all altered then, but this is generally the first utterance of the band being named.

Steve Martin, the famous comedian and actor, was actually a close friend of the band at the time, having performed at the same places and suggested they add a “The” to their name. After some pushback from Glenn Frey, it eventually clicked, and The Eagles were finally born.

The first album they produced, called “The Eagles,” was an instant hit. The vibe of the band early on was heavy, and I mean heavy on the southern rock vibe, which, I must admit, I’m not a huge fan of.

They were bordering country rock at times, and unlike another southern rock band at the time named Lynrd Skynrd, they were far less aggressive musically. Part of that comes from the members at the time and, in particular, a lack of Joe Walsh, who would come in to shake up the formula very shortly.

Driven by the Hits

Eagles hits

The Eagles are one of the most single heavy bands of all time. These guys are just a machine for dishing out hit singles, and that’s exactly how they started out.

With their first album, they had multiple top 100 hits, such as Take it Easy, which is still one of their most popular songs on the radio today. They also had “Witchy Woman” and “That Peaceful Easy Feeling” tearing up the charts as well.

Most rock bands struggle a bit at the start, but sometimes, elite talent takes over, and nothing can stop it from succeeding. That was the case with the first album for The Eagles and seeing as they came from an already established act in Linda Ronstadt, they had more connections than most bands would on their way up.

Heating Up, Desperado Marks a Shift

Desperado came out in 1973, and you could feel the band shift a bit with their style. Whereas the first album was pretty upbeat and positive country rock-style songs, this one was a bit darker. It was also more retrospective of their lives as rockstars to that point and, overall, a more dour theme to the album as a whole.

The hits still came with “Tequila Sunrise” and “Desperado,” so whatever the change was, it was definitely working. Henly and Frey were credited with writing the majority of the songs. This was a big change from the first album, where songs were much more collaborative.

The Eagles Get Heavier

When it was time for the third album, both Henley and Frey wanted to shed their country rock image. To say the least, I am very glad they did that because it’s just not a music style I vibe with. I’ve always been into the heavier material from the Eagles, and with On the Border, it was the birth of that style for them.

One of the songs that showed off this shift the most was “Good Day in Hell.” It wasn’t quite the heaviness that they would reach with later albums, but it featured a slick riff which was the first contribution of soon-to-be-hired guitarist Don Felder. It started to feel much more like a Led Zeppelin-style band, and that was clearly the right direction as it perfectly fit this massive quintet.

The album was a big success off the back of some huge hits like “Best of My Love,” which was the first number 1 hit for the band and signaled to them that maybe this hard rock edge was what they needed to take this act into the stratosphere.

There would still be a piece to be added that would change everything for the band. You’d think that with this many hits already, how much better could they get? Well, enter Joe Walsh.

Joe Walsh Joins, The Eagles Hit Their Apex

Joe Walsh

A fallout between Leadon and Glenn Frey would happen in 1975, and soon after it, Leadon was out of the band. It was a tough thing to swallow for Leadon; I’d imagine, considering it isn’t every day that you’re an important part of a hugely successful band, but he was getting annoyed at his lack of control over the sound. He didn’t want to be part of a hard rock band going forward.

With Leadon out, that left room for another member to join the band, and man, did they ever find a replacement? Joe Walsh was already an established solo act, but he was friends with the band for some years now and was looking to join a band to showcase his considerable talents.

Initially, Walsh’s hard rock style was a bit too heavy for the band, seemingly more at home in an act like Black Sabbath. Still, the band eventually came to an agreement, and all of a sudden, the early country sound of the band was gone for good, and its place was a fierce hard rock band with the talent to boot.

A Greatest Hits Already?

What? Three albums in, and you release a greatest hits album? It wasn’t so much cockiness that led to this idea, but instead results that let it happen. Their Greatest Hits was released in 1976 and became the highest-selling album of all time.

You didn’t read that wrong; it was literally the most popular and lucrative album to ever exist until 2009. It was clear the love for the band was at an all-time high, and now, they’d absorbed Joe Walsh’s fanbase as well, giving them all the fuel needed to blast off into another dimension musically.

I was never a huge fan of early Eagles’ material, but I respected the band for being different than other classic rock acts at the time. Once they got Joe Walsh, though, that’s when they really became The Eagles to me. His attitude and guitar chops were a perfect fit for a band and provided a great dichotomy with the somewhat softer vocals of the band.

Welcome to the Hotel California

Welcome to the Hotel California

Now armed with the beast on guitar that was Joe Walsh, The Eagles released the album Hotel California. It would be the heaviest offering from the band to date, and all the country influence that Leadon had imparted on previous songs in other albums was all but gone.

The band had a hit with the single “New Kid in Town,” and that song felt like an older song from them, but other than that, it was much more of a rock album.

This album would produce the most popular song the band has written to this day. “Hotel California” was right alongside Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” regarding rock epics with ambiguous meanings and scathing guitar solos.

The song took on a life of its own, and aside from the elite musicianship at work, the song’s lyrics began to get analyzed for their content. People couldn’t figure out whether it was about fame, the music industry, or devil worship, and that mystery helped drive the intrigue with the song.

It went straight to number one, and Henley’s vocals and the two guitar attacks of Walsh and Felder created one of the most memorable songs in music history.

The song and album would become the most popular ones ever for The Eagles.

One More Album Before the Fall

Heartache Tonight

To follow up an album like Hotel California is plenty difficult to do. Still, despite losing Randy Meisner due to him not feeling comfortable with the touring schedule and his overall role in the band, they managed to score yet another big hit with The Long Run.

It wasn’t close to Hotel California, creatively speaking, but it produced a bunch of hits regardless, including “Heartache Tonight,” which again was a number one single.

Three years would pass with plenty of touring in between, and then one fateful night, Don Felder and Glenn Frey got into it during a show for California Senator Alan Cranston’s campaign. Reportedly, the two bandmates kept threatening each other during songs about how they planned to beat each other backstage.

It’s not really known whether that fight ever happened or not, but can you imagine being at that show where this went down? It was probably simultaneously one of the funniest and most uncomfortable moments for any audience in music history.

Yet, if you’ve followed any rock band for a long time, you usually know that some kind of group turmoil is coming.

The Breakup

Following that show, the band was pretty much done aside from a live album they were contractually obliged to complete. Following the live album, the members all went off on their own, with Don Henley and Glenn Frey achieving the most successful commercially. They both released massive hits such as “Boys of Summer” for Henley and “Heat is On” for Glenn Frey.

All band members managed to score solo hits, including Meisner, who managed to hit the top 40 three times himself. To say that’s a rare and impressive feat is an understatement as you usually see people try to make it on their own after being in a hit band only to crash and burn and come crawling back to try and recapture the previous glory.

Here, the members of The Eagles could’ve carved out solo careers for as long as they wanted.

The breakup was a pretty long one, starting in 1980, and Don Henley had said that they’d get back together when hell freezes over. Of course, the band got back together in 1994 and released a live album called Hell Freezes Over, a mega-hit and a return to form from the band that also had four new songs.

“Get Over It” was a particularly big hit off the album, and by the sound of the title, you can tell that it had been about longstanding conflicts that members of the band might’ve had with one another.

The live album itself was amazing because it sounded like the band had been playing together nonstop over the past 14 years. Everyone was in sync, and Don Henley and Glenn Frey were showing off maybe the most powerful vocals of their careers.

Things Get Rocky Again

After a handful of great years being back together, including one of the better Rock and Roll Hall of Fame moments where all seven members of the band came together to play Hotel California and Take it Easy in 1998, 2001 started with Don Felder being fired for the band.

He was fired by both Frey and Henley, stating his performance and chemistry just wasn’t there anymore. Felder countered that he was bullied out of the band by the two who were power hungry and had coerced him into signing a contract where they’d make three times as much money as he did.

The Charts are Still Kind to The Eagles

The Very Best Of

The Eagles would release a massive compilation album in 2003 called The Very Best Of, and it went to number 3 on the charts, again making them a band very relevant in the industry; it even had a new song called “Hole in the World.”

This is something that bands can’t really get away with these days due to how the streaming nature of the music industry works. For example, I could put together my own greatest hits of The Eagles in five minutes on a Spotify playlist if I wanted.

Nineteen years ago, though, that wasn’t really doable outside of burning CDs, so to have an accessible album like that ready to go was still an awesome thing to have, and the charts responded as such.

The Eagles would stay together without Don Felder and continue playing sold-out tours while releasing several DVD sets of live tours they’d done.

A New Album Emerges

Long Road Out of Eden

Many saw the nonstop touring as a farewell of sorts from the band, but it turns out they had some music left in them. In 2007 they released their first album since 1979. It was called Long Road Out of Eden and was a massive hit, debuting at number one worldwide. Sadly, it was the last album they would release with new material.

As far as this album goes, I’ll be honest; it’s not their best work. The songs had a bit of a forced feel to try and recapture what once made the band a magical listen, and while it scored a couple of hit singles, to me, that was just nostalgia at play rather than great songs.

The Modern Day Eagles and the Death of a Legend

Glenn Frey tragically passed away in 2016 due to complications from Pneumonia after having an intestinal surgery. This was a massive blow to the band and, in particular, Don Henley, who had been the band’s co-captains since their beginning.

It had seemed following this event that it would be the end of The Eagles, but they pushed on. They toured throughout the last few years and even took on Glenn Frey’s son, Deacon, to replace him.

Today, They are currently touring throughout the USA and Europe.

Musical Style

The Eagles are one of the more interesting rock bands to try and categorize. On the one hand, you’ve got their first three albums, hugely successful and slotted perfectly into the country rock genre. Take a song like “Take it Easy,” for example.

It’s full of the type of twangy guitar sounds that artists like Jackson Browne have been known for over the years. Of course, that’s partly because he wrote most of the song. The influence of Leadon on the first few albums also shined brightly, giving it that easy-going country vibe that would leave years later.

Once Joe Walsh joined the band, the style got decidedly more hard rock. Ultimately, they are best categorized as a southern rock band with both country and hard rock influences. They are definitely one of the most varied listens you can have when listening to a group’s catalog and one of the more unique bands in rock history.


The Eagle’s legacy lies within the numbers. They are one of the 10 highest selling acts in music history, accumulating an insane 160 million record sales worldwide, sitting 10 million ahead of Queen for the 2nd highest selling band of all time to The Beatles as of July 12th, 2022.

They are known as one of the most impressive examples of a big band, incorporating up to three guitarists at a time on songs, creating a blast of sound that comes through in a scorching fashion when heard live.


Question: Do The Eagles Still Perform?

Answer: Although they lost Glenn Frey in 2016, they are still a touring band and are currently on a massive 2022 tour throughout the USA and Europe.

Question: Are The Eagles a Country Rock Band?

Answer: The Eagles are just a rock band through and through. They have elements of country rock, southern rock, and hard rock, and each song can sometimes sound like a totally different genre of music.

Question: Are The Eagles in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Answer:  In one of the best inductions, The Eagles were inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, and all seven band members were included. They performed two songs, including Hotel California, during the momentous occasion.


The Eagles are one of the more exciting bands you could ever listen to, and whether you’re a fan or not, I encourage you to check out some of their music because it’s unlike anything at the time and continues to be an unique listen to this day.

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