In the early 1970s, Glenn Frey lived in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Echo Park, in an apartment above his friend Jackson Browne. Most mornings, Frey heard Browne as he played the piano, working on such future hits like “Doctor, My Eyes.” “I’m going, ‘So that’s how you do it,’” Frey later recalled in History of the Eagles. “‘Elbow grease. Time. Thought. Persistence.’” The Eagles formed at LA’s Troubadour, where drummer Don Henley and guitarist Glenn Frey met at the bar, bonding over their love of cars and music. After playing some shows together as backup for Linda Ronstadt, they hatched a plan to start their own group, featuring the best players in LA’s country-rock scene. Ronstadt connected them with Bernie Leadon, a veteran of the Flying Burrito Brothers; they also recruited bassist Randy Meisner, who played in Poco and Ricky Nelson’s band. Though Henley and Frey weren’t seasoned songwriters yet, the Eagles’ self-titled 1972 debut album proved they knew how to pick material. The group covered Jack Tempchin’s breezy classic “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” adding gorgeous three-part harmonies. Meanwhile, Frey recruited his neighbor Browne, asking if he could finish the work-in-progress song “Take It Easy,” an anthem about cars, girls, and redemption. And Henley scored his first writing triumph when he heard Leadon playing a guitar riff, and went home and wrote the lyrics to “Witchy Woman.” Produced by Glyn Johns, Eagles was a huge surprise success. “Take It Easy,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and “Witchy Woman” all made the Top 40. Leadon, reflecting decades later, believed it was because the band offered hope after the dark 1960s: “I really think that part of the reason that the Eagles succeeded the way they did was because the country and people and young people needed to feel like things were OK.”

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