Randy Meisner facts: Eagles star's career, family, wife, children and death explained

3 July 2024, 14:22 | Updated: 3 July 2024, 16:11

Randy Meisner in 1973
Randy Meisner in 1973. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

Randy Meisner was a true legend of rock music history.

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Randy Meisner was born on 8 March 1946 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. His journey from the farmlands of Nebraska to the glitz and glamour of the rock scene is nothing short of remarkable.

Raised in a modest family, Randy’s early life was filled with the simple joys of rural America. His parents, Herman and Emilie Meisner, nurtured a loving home, and it was here that Randy’s love for music began to blossom.

Randy’s musical journey started in his teenage years. He picked up the bass guitar, influenced by the likes of Elvis Presley and Little Richard. By the time he was in high school, he was already playing in local bands, honing his craft and dreaming of bigger stages.

In 1966, Randy moved to Los Angeles, a bold step that marked the beginning of his professional career. He joined the band Poco, co-founded by Richie Furay and Jim Messina. As a founding member, Randy’s bass playing and vocal harmonies were instrumental in shaping Poco’s distinctive country-rock sound. However, it was in 1971 that Randy’s career took a monumental turn.

Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Randy Meisner, Glenn Frey and Don Felder in 1977
Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Randy Meisner, Glenn Frey and Don Felder in 1977. Picture: Getty

That year, he became a founding member of the Eagles, one of the most iconic rock bands of all time. Alongside Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Bernie Leadon, Randy helped craft the band’s early sound (Joe Walsh, Don Felder and Timothy B Schmit joined later). His high tenor voice added a unique layer to the Eagles’ harmonies, and his songwriting skills contributed to the band’s growing repertoire.

Randy’s time with the Eagles was marked by numerous hits, including ‘Take It to the Limit’, a song co-written by Meisner, Frey, and Henley. This track became a signature tune for the band, showcasing Randy’s incredible vocal range and emotional delivery. His contribution to other classics like ‘One of These Nights’ and ‘Hotel California’ solidified his place in rock history.

Randy Meisner on 3/6/81 in Chicago
Randy Meisner on 3/6/81 in Chicago. Picture: Getty

Despite the success, life in the Eagles was not always harmonious. The pressures of fame and internal band tensions led Randy to leave the group in 1977. His departure marked the end of an era, but it also opened new doors for his solo career.

Randy’s solo work, while not as commercially successful as his time with the Eagles, still showcased his musical talents. His self-titled debut album, released in 1978, featured songs like ‘Bad Man’ and ‘Hearts on Fire’, which highlighted his ability to blend rock and country influences seamlessly.

On the personal front, Randy’s life had its share of ups and downs. He was married twice; his first marriage to Jennifer Lee Barton in 1963 ended in divorce in 1981. They had three children together: Dana, Heather, and Eric. Randy remarried in 1996 to Lana Rae, a union that lasted until her tragic death in 2016.

Randy Meisner in 1997
Randy Meisner in 1997. Picture: Getty

The circumstances surrounding Lana's death were quite unfortunate. According to reports, Lana Rae accidentally shot herself while handling a firearm in the couple's home in Studio City, Los Angeles. The incident was ruled as accidental by the authorities.

Despite personal challenges, Randy remained active in the music scene. He occasionally reunited with former bandmates for special performances and continued to perform solo.

Randy’s later years were marked by health struggles, but his spirit remained unbroken. He continued to connect with fans and shared his passion for music until his passing on July 26, 2023. His death marked the end of a significant chapter in rock history, but his music and influence live on.