Saturday, February 16, 2013

TV tonight: History of the Eagles: Part 1 on Showtime

TV tonight: History of the Eagles: Part 1 on Showtime

This was really good. Didn't think I could learn anything. Learned a lot. All of the band members had much more success before the Eagles than they get credit for. Bernie Leadon was in one of the top L.A. bands, The Flying Burrito Brothers. Meisner had been in Poco. Frey recorded with Bob Seger and Longbranch-Pennywhistle with J.D. Souther had a record deal and played all the top L.A. clubs. Henley had been making his living as a member of a band that Kenny Rogers signed to a record label, moved them to live with him in L.A. and changed their name from Felicity to Shilo. 

If not for the sweet kindness of Linda Ronstadt there would be no Eagles. First she formed them to play as her back-up band at Disney Land, and held no grudges when they dumped her to find a label. And then, later, the album "Desperado", was a virtual bust until she had a hit with "Desperado" and then it, in turn, made the album "Desperado." 

The main thing is that I just assumed the friction between Henley and Frey was the reason the band split up. It was pure hot hatred between Don Felder and Glenn Frey. 

Yes, Henley and Frey were proof that combining raw ambition, greed, ruthlessness, OCD-like perfectionism and cocaine is an ugly combination. They burned out producer, Glyn Jons who had no problem with recording the Stones in France in between Keith Richards's heroine jags and recording Led Zeppelin with a drummer, John Bonham who drank 20 vodkas a day.

But there are two sides to all stories. Frey and Henley gave Meisner and Leadon many chances to stay, but they wanted out. 

Frey was slick hustler, Henley was a true grumpy intellectual, Leadon an iconoclast hippy bluegrass fanatic, Meisner, a shy, sweet farmer from Nebraska with a beautiful high voice and bass playing chops, Felder, a simple guitar geek who had amazing skills and Joe Walsh was a born rocker, albeit quite a quirky one.