Randy Meisner: Founding Member of The Eagles Passes Away at 77

By: Dan Cooper

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Remembering Randy Meisner: Founding Member of The Eagles Passes Away at 77

Randy Meisner, a founding member of the Eagles, has died at age 77, the band said on Thursday.Meisner died on Wednesday night in Los Angeles of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the Eagles said in a statement. He was 77.Called “the sweetest man in the music business” by former bandmate Don Felder, the baby-faced Meisner joined Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon in the early 1970s to form a quintessential Los Angeles band and one of the most popular acts in history.Evolving from country rock to hard rock, the Eagles turned out a run of hit singles and albums over the next decade, starting with Take It Easy and continuing with Desperado, Hotel California and Life in the Fast Lane. among others.

Although chastised by many critics as slick and superficial, the Eagles released two of the most popular albums of all time, Hotel California and Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975).Led by singer-songwriters Henley and Frey, the Eagles were initially branded as “mellow” and “easy listening”. But by their third album, the 1974 release On the Border, they had added a rock guitarist, Felder, and were turning away from country and bluegrass.Meisner stayed on through the 1976 release of Hotel California, the band’s most acclaimed record, but was gone soon after.A shy Nebraskan torn between fame and family life, Meisner had been ill and homesick during the Hotel California tour and was reluctant to have the spotlight.

His replacement, Timothy B Schmit, remained with the group over the following decades, along with Henley, Joe Walsh and Frey, who died in 2016.As a solo artist, Meisner never approached the success of the Eagles, but did have hits with Hearts on Fire and Deep Inside My Heart and played on records by Walsh, James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg, among others.Meisner was married twice, the first time when he was still in his teens, and had three kids.

The son of sharecroppers and grandson of a classical violinist, Meisner played in local bands as a teenager and by the end of the 1960s had moved to California and joined a country rock group, Poco, along with Richie Furay and Jimmy Messina. But he would remember being angered that Furay wouldn’t let him listen to the studio mix of their first album and left the group before it came out: his successor was Timothy B Schmit.Meisner backed Ricky Nelson, played on Taylor’s Sweet Baby James album and befriended Henley and Frey when all were performing in Linda Ronstadt’s band. With Ronstadt’s blessing, they formed the Eagles, were signed by David Geffen for his Asylum Records label and released their self-titled debut album in 1972.

Frey and Henley sang lead most of the time, but Meisner was the key behind Take It the Limit. It appeared on the One of These Nights album from 1975 and became a top five single, a weary, plaintive song later covered by Etta James and as a duet by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.”The purpose of the whole Eagles thing to me was that combination and the chemistry that made all the harmonies just sound perfect,” Meisner told the music website www.lobstergottalent.com in 2015. “The funny thing is after we made those albums I never listened to them and it is only when someone comes over or I am at somebody’s house and it gets played in the background that is when I’ll tell myself, ‘Damn, these records are good.'”

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