The Eagles evolved from talented country rockers to arena stars thanks to angelic four-part harmonies that sweetened lyrics about the dark side of the American dream. Primary songwriters and vocalists Glenn Frey and Don Henley decided to start a band together the day they met as members of Linda Ronstadt's backing group in 1971, and soon recruited the more seasoned Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. Their 1972 self-titled debut brought hits like "Take It Easy," "Witchy Woman," and "Peaceful Easy Feeling," but Frey and Henley almost derailed their trajectory with Desperado, a loosely conceptual song cycle that favorably equated SoCal guitar singers to Old West pistol packers. The Eagles' soft rock hardened with the addition of crackerjack guitarist Don Felder for 1974's On the Border, whose uncharacteristically political title track referenced the ongoing Watergate scandal. The next year, after charismatic guitar badass Joe Walsh swapped in for Leaden, One of These Nights became the first of four consecutive chart-topping Eagles albums, with its unbeatable blend of impeccable radio hits ("One of These Nights," "Lyin' Eyes") joined by all-too-knowing interrogations of success and overindulgence like "After the Thrill Is Gone." Record buyers found the Eagles' ambivalence about love and fame irresistible: The group's first compilation, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975), has sold more copies than any other 20th-century American album, and they followed it with a masterpiece. Hotel California was a velvet glove cast in irony and—in singles like "New Kid in Town," "Life in the Fast Lane," and its epic title track—the very definition of classic rock, possessing a polish that future country stars would eagerly adopt. A 14-year hiatus followed the Eagles’ 1979 The Long Run, but from the mid-'90s and well into the 21st century they've found their way back to each other for reunion tours, a live album, and even a final studio effort, 2007's characteristically world-weary Long Road Out of Eden. It was the closing track of The Long Run, though, that clarified the soft-rock sultans' career-long lament: "I don't know why fortune smiles on some/And lets the rest go free."
ORIGINLos Angeles, CA