Eagles facts: Members, band name, break-up and reunion of the 'Hotel California' superstars

21 March 2022, 11:06 | Updated: 20 September 2023, 13:20

The Eagles
The Eagles. Picture: Getty

By Tom Eames

The Eagles are one of the most iconic bands of all time.

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Formed in Los Angeles in 1971, the American group helped cement the sound of country and soft rock of the era, and their hits remain timeless several decades later.

Their albums Their Greatest Hits and Hotel California are the first and third best-selling albums of all time in the USA, and they are one of the world's best-selling bands, selling over than 200 million records.

Here's your handy beginners' guide to the legendary group:

  1. Who are the Eagles?

    The Eagles in 2012 (Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Timothy B Schmit)
    The Eagles in 2012 (Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Timothy B Schmit). Picture: Getty

    The founding members were Glenn Frey (guitars, vocals), Don Henley (drums, vocals), Bernie Leadon (guitars, vocals) and Randy Meisner (bass guitar, vocals).

    Meisner left the band in 1977 and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.

    Don Felder joined in 1974, but was fired by the band in 2001. Joe Walsh has been a member of the band since 1975.

    Following Frey's death in January 2016, the Eagles continued performing a year later, with his son Deacon Frey and Vince Gill sharing lead vocals for Frey's songs.

  2. How did the Eagles form?

    Picture: Getty

    The Eagles began in early 1971, when singer Linda Ronstadt and her manager John Boylan recruited local musicians Glenn Frey and Don Henley for her band.

    Henley moved to Los Angeles from Texas with his band Shiloh to record an album produced by Kenny Rogers, while Frey had come from Michigan and formed Longbranch Pennywhistle.

    The pair met in 1970 at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, and became friends through their mutual record label, Amos Records.

    Randy Meisner had been working with Ricky Nelson's backing band and joined Ronstadt's group of performers for her summer tour.

    While on tour, Frey and Henley decided to form a band together, and told Ronstadt of their plans. They were joined by Meisner and fellow backing band member Bernie Leadon to form a group.

    This four played live together behind Ronstadt only once at Disneyland, but all four appeared on her self-titled album. They were signed in 1971 to Asylum Records, and performed their first show in October 1971 under the name of Teen King and the Emergencies.

  3. Why did they choose Eagles as their band name?

    The Eagles - Hotel California Live At the Capital Center 1977

    The idea of naming the band 'Eagles' came from a peyote and tequila-influenced group trip to the Mojave Desert.

    Don Felder credited Leadon with coming up with the name when he remembered reading about the Hopis' love for the eagle, while JD Souther has said that the idea came when Frey shouted out "Eagles!" when they saw eagles flying above them.

    Comic Steve Martin, a friend of the band, said in his autobiography that he suggested that they should be known as 'the Eagles', but Frey has said that the group's name is simply 'Eagles' with no 'the'.

  4. What are their most famous songs?

    Some of their biggest hits include:

    - Hotel California

    - Take It Easy

    - Peaceful Easy Feeling

    - Desperado

    - Lyin' Eyes

    - Take it to the Limit

    - Life in the Fast Lane

    - One of These Nights

    - New Kid in Town

    - Seven Bridges Road

    - Best of My Love

  5. Why did they split up and how did they reunite?

    Desperado Eagles New Zealand Live

    On July 31, 1980, a fight occured, and has since described as the "Long Night at Wrong Beach".

    Animosity had grown between Felder and Frey before the show began, when Felder said: "You're welcome – I guess" to California Senator Alan Cranston's wife as the politician was thanking the band backstage for performing a benefit.

    Frey and Felder spent the entire show telling each other about how they were going to beat each other up backstage.

    "Only three more songs until I kick your ass, pal," Frey told Felder.

    Eagles Live proved to be the last album by the band for many years, with Frey refusing to speak to the other members. The album's liner notes simply said: "Thank you and goodnight."

    It wasn't until 1994 when they reunited. "For the record, we never broke up, we just took a 14-year vacation," said Frey at their first live performance in April that year.

    The tour saw the release of a live album titled Hell Freezes Over (named for Henley's statement that the group would get back together "when hell freezes over").