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Randy Meisner: Eagles founding member dies aged 77Randy Meisner: Eagles founding member dies aged 77

Randy Meisner: Eagles founding member dies aged 77

Publish – 28 july , 2023

Randy Meisner, a founding member of the legendary band Eagles, known for his remarkable high harmonies on beloved tracks like “Take It Easy” and “The Best of My Love,” as well as his poignant lead vocals on the waltz-time ballad “Take It to the Limit,” has passed away, as announced by the band on Thursday.

Meisner, 77, breathed his last on Wednesday night in Los Angeles due to complications arising from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, according to a statement issued by the Eagles.

Over the past years, Meisner had faced various challenges and personal tragedies. In 2016, he suffered the devastating loss of his wife, Lana Rae Meisner, who tragically passed away after accidentally shooting herself. Additionally, the musician had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and grappled with severe alcohol-related issues, as mentioned in court records and statements made during a 2015 hearing where he was ordered to receive constant medical care.

Former bandmate Don Felder fondly referred to Meisner as “the sweetest man in the music business.” During the early 1970s, Meisner, with his youthful appearance, joined forces with Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Bernie Leadon, forming an iconic Los Angeles band that would go on to become one of the most adored acts in music history.

The Eagles’ statement praised Meisner’s significant role within the band, describing him as instrumental in their early success. His exceptional vocal range was nothing short of astonishing, showcased brilliantly on his signature ballad, “Take It to the Limit.” The impact of Randy Meisner’s talent and contribution to the Eagles’ music will forever be remembered and cherished.

 

Randy Meisner: Eagles founding member dies aged 77
Randy Meisner: Eagles founding member dies aged 77 / getty

Transitioning from their roots in country rock to the realm of hard rock, the Eagles embarked on a remarkable journey of producing hit singles and albums throughout the next decade. It all began with the iconic “Take It Easy” and continued with classics like “Desperado,” “Hotel California,” and “Life In the Fast Lane,” among others. Despite criticism from some quarters for being overly polished and superficial, the Eagles proved their mettle by releasing two of the most beloved albums in history, namely “Hotel California” and “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975).” In fact, the latter, with an astonishing 38 million in sales, ranked alongside Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” as the top-selling record, as recognized by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Initially, the Eagles were labeled as “mellow” and considered part of the “easy listening” genre, largely due to the creative influence of singer-songwriters Henley and Frey. However, with the release of their third album, “On the Border” in 1974, the band underwent a significant transformation. They brought in rock guitarist Felder and gradually moved away from their country and bluegrass roots.

Bernie Leadon, a traditional bluegrass player, felt discontented with the new direction and departed after the 1975 album “One of These Nights.” His position was taken up by another rock guitarist, Joe Walsh. Meanwhile, Randy Meisner stayed with the group until the release of their critically acclaimed record, “Hotel California,” in 1976. However, shortly after, he left the band. Ironically, his exit was sparked by the song he co-wrote and was best known for, “Take It to the Limit.”

Meisner, a reserved Nebraskan artist, struggled with the challenges of fame and the desire for a stable family life. During the “Hotel California” tour, he was unwell and homesick due to the crumbling of his first marriage. Additionally, he felt reluctant about being in the spotlight for “Take It to the Limit,” which showcased his distinctive nasally tenor. His objections during a concert in Knoxville, Tennessee, in the summer of 1977 led to a backstage argument with Frey, eventually resulting in Meisner’s departure from the band. Timothy B. Schmit took over as his replacement and remained with the group over the ensuing decades, alongside Henley, Walsh, and Frey, who sadly passed away in 2016.

 

Randy Meisner: Eagles founding member dies aged 77
Randy Meisner: Eagles founding member dies aged 77 / getty

Randy Meisner: Eagles founding member dies aged 77

As a solo artist, Randy Meisner never achieved the same level of success as he did with the Eagles, but he did manage to score hits with songs like “Hearts On Fire” and “Deep Inside My Heart.” Additionally, he lent his musical talents to various records by artists such as Walsh, James Taylor, and Dan Fogelberg, among others. Despite Meisner’s absence, the Eagles put an end to their 14-year hiatus in 1994 and embarked on a tour with Timothy B. Schmit as their bassist. Notably, Meisner had been part of almost all their earlier studio albums, except one. In 1998, when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Meisner reunited with both past and present members, sharing the stage for memorable performances of “Take It Easy” and “Hotel California.” For a decade, Meisner joined the World Classic Rockers, a touring group that featured various renowned musicians at different times, including Donovan, Spencer Davis, and Denny Laine.

Throughout his life, Meisner was married twice, with his first marriage taking place while he was still a teenager. He had three children.

Having grown up in a family with a sharecropping background and a classical violinist grandfather, Meisner’s musical journey began early in his teens, playing in local bands. By the late 1960s, he had made his way to California, where he became a part of the country rock group Poco, alongside Richie Furay and Jimmy Messina. However, a disagreement over not being allowed to listen to the studio mix of their first album led Meisner to leave the group before its release, with Timothy B. Schmit taking his place.

Meisner’s musical talents also extended to backing Ricky Nelson and contributing to James Taylor’s acclaimed “Sweet Baby James” album. It was during their time performing in Linda Ronstadt’s band that he formed lasting friendships with Don Henley and Glenn Frey. With Ronstadt’s encouragement, they came together to form the Eagles, catching the attention of David Geffen, who signed them to his Asylum Records label. In 1972, the Eagles released their self-titled debut album, setting the stage for their monumental journey in the world of music.

Frey and Henley were the primary lead vocalists in the Eagles, but Randy Meisner played a pivotal role in creating the magic behind the hit “Take It to the Limit.” This soulful track appeared on the 1975 album “One of These Nights” and quickly climbed the charts, becoming a top 5 single. The song’s weary and plaintive tone resonated with listeners, leading to later covers by acclaimed artists such as Etta James, and a duet version performed by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

In a 2015 interview with the music website www.lobstergottalent.com, Meisner expressed his perspective on the Eagles‘ dynamic. He emphasized the significance of the band’s combination and chemistry, which resulted in their harmonies sounding perfectly blended. Despite his integral contributions to the albums they made, Meisner admitted that he rarely listened to them on his own. Instead, he found himself appreciating their excellence when he happened to hear them playing in the background while visiting friends or family. It was in those moments that he would acknowledge the undeniable brilliance of the records they had created together.

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