The rock and roll world lost another legend Thursday, as one of the founding members of the Eagles, Randy Meisner, died at the age of 77. Meisner had been battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD as it is commonly called, and succumbed to complications from the disease in Los Angeles.
Meisner joined Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Bernie Leadon to form the legendary band in 1971. With Henley’s distinctive vocals and drum beat, Glenn Frey’s distinctive vocals, and the nasally yet undeniable vocals and bass line from Meisner, the Eagles shot to stardom and became one of the biggest bands of the era.
Meisner provided vocals on and co-wrote many of the songs on their biggest string of albums, including “Eagles,” “Desperado,” “On The Border,” “One of These Nights,” and “Hotel California.” He co-wrote the band’s hit song “Take It to the Limit,” which he also sang. Many of these albums became the soundtrack of their lives for legions of fans.
The band released a statement on social media: “The Eagles are sad to report that founding member, bassist, and vocalist, Randy Meisner, passed away last night (July 26) in Los Angeles at age 77, due to complications from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD). Randy was an integral part of the Eagles and instrumental in the early success of the band. His vocal range was astonishing, as is evident on his signature ballad, ‘Take It to the Limit.’”
Prior to joining the Eagles, Meiser was the bassist for another legendary band, Poco. He joined former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina for several albums in the 1960s and performed briefly with Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band.
While Meisner was integral to the Eagles’ sound and success, the fast-paced life on the road took its toll on their founding bassist. Much like the song “Life in the Fast Lane,” Mesiner felt he was slowly losing his mind and increasingly pushed back against the demands of touring and his dislike for being in the spotlight, often refusing to sing his signature hit “Take It to the Limit.”
The tensions boiled over in the summer of 1977, as a backstage argument with Glenn Frey during a Knoxville, Tennessee concert went so badly that Meisner soon left and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit, who continued with the band for the next couple of decades.
Meisner went solo, and while he had minor hits with “Hearts on Fire” and “Deep Inside My Heart,” he never reached the level of success he had with the Eagles. Meisner continued recording as a session musician with Joe Walsh, James Taylor, and Dan Fogelberg, among others.
Meisner spoke over the years about his time with the Eagles and their lasting legacy. “I could have tripled my money if I’d stayed. But I was just tired of the touring. It’s a crazy life that you live at twice the normal speed. When it got to the point of sanity or money … I thought I’d rather have sanity.”
In 2016 after the death of Glenn Frey, Meisner spoke about new legions of fans embracing the band: “It’s just good to know that kids nowadays are listening to it. It’s long-standing music. They’re good songs. The lyrics are really good and the way that they were produced and the way that we played them. That’s why on ‘Hotel California’ we were so precise and wanting to make it so perfect. We made sure we got it so good.”
The Eagles and Randy Meisner indeed left a lasting impression on rock music. The remaining members of the band are set to embark on what they claim is yet another farewell tour, but it truly is farewell for founding member Randy Meisner.
Three adult children survive Meisner. Best wishes to the family of Eagles legend Randy Meisner.
Featured image screen grab from embedded YouTube video
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