The first time I saw The Eagles
The first time I saw Randy Meisner was in the summer of 1972 at Little Rock's Barton Coliseum. I went to see a Yes concert. I know, it sounds too weird, but it's true. The Eagles were the opening act. I remember thinking that they must have been a local act from Little Rock because they didn't dress like rock stars. Yes was sure to come out in pseudo techno/glam-rock attire, but these Eagles guys were wearing blue jeans, sneakers, and T-Shirts. It didn't take long to figure out that these guys were something special. They just came out and blew the audience away with their *vocals* and some very original sounding songs. What a concept. No smoke, no explosions, not one. They just played and sang. I have to give credit to the Little Rock, Arkansas audience. They didn't have one bit of prejudice towards these guys. People loved them and let them know it. I remember telling Randy about me seeing that show. He told me that in the early days of The Eagles, the record label didn't know what to do with them. They had them opening for Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. Truly a bizzare case of packaging.
Randy was an integral part of the Eagles sound. His hit, "Take It To The Limit", was the Eagles first million selling single. In 1977 he left the group to spend more time with his family, however, he came out of semi-retirement and recorded a couple of solo albums that did quite well, as well as various other projects.
Photo by John S. Godley
In 1992 I joined the group "Black Tie". Black Tie consisted of Billy Swan, Jimmy Griffin (formerly of Bread), and Randy Meisner (CO-founder of The Eagles and Poco). The first day I went over to the studio, there was Randy. He was very polite and said he looked forward to working with me. I don't really know if Reggie Fisher, the producer, had played him any of my stuff or not. We had a couple of mutual friends in Joe Walsh and Dan Fogelberg, so that helped break the ice a bit. In retrospect, I'm glad we got to know each other in a studio environment before breaking out the band gear. Randy was great in the studio, particularly when it came to vocal arrangements. He came up with all these cool little parts that just "made" the song come together. He called it putting the glue on it. He was right. It just welded all the parts of the song together. We would eventually have a big country single with "I'm Sure Of You", which made it to the top 20, no small feat for an independent label. Unfortunately, we didn't have enough product in the stores to take advantage of the chart position. One thing led to another, and the Black Tie project ran out of funding. That's when we formed Mienser, Swan, & Rich. We just wanted to get out and play.
Rehearsals, rehearsals, and more rehearsals.
When we started getting the live show together, one thing Randy was a stickler for was having the band well rehearsed. Hey, when an ex-Eagle says rehearal is important, you best listen. We had a great time doing it too. Randy would usually bring some donuts and coffee. Maple donuts, by the way. Then we would rehearse all morning, take a lunch break, grab a filafel, and right back for more rehearsals. While we were doing all this rehearsing for live dates, we were also recording a new album. After the somewhat laborious process of the Black Tie album, I think we all wanted this new album to just get done. We played live at several venues, which helped us work out the kinks. Then we just went over to Houston's studio and cut the album. It didn't take long either. We used the same players that we used in our road band, Vern Monnett on steel guitar and lead guitar, John Molo on drums, Randy on bass, me on keys, and Billy Swan on rhythm guitar. Then the three of us went in and did the backing vocals.
Our first show.
Temecula, California. Our first show together. After the show ended I knew I was a part of something special. We continued working the West Coast for the next few months. Then I spoke with a friend in Holland that was interested in booking the band. We did a Europeans tour that was just a blast. We used Mark Craney on drums, as Molo was out with Bruce Hornsby at the time.
We were all excited when the CD was about to be released. Then we saw the album cover. It's not a big deal now, but then it was. See, we had been touring all over the world as Meisner, Rich, & Swan. Well, we had the artwork for the CD done by a great company in Japan. Problem is, they really didn't have the English thing down that well. Great artwork, poor translation skills. Instead of Meisner, Rich, and Swan, it ended up Meisner, Swan and Rich. The artwork looked so cool, that we just changed our name.
Well, there you have it. Those are some of my memories of working with Randy. I enjoyed it immensely. We're still great friends, but we don't get the chance to see each other as much as I would like, since I'm here in Tennessee and he's still out in California. Every now and then we'll talk on the phone. He's playing with the World Classic Rocker all-star review that includes members of Steppenwolf, Lynard Skynard, Rare Earth, and other supergroups. It was a real honor playing with Randy. One of the biggest thrills of my professional career.
Still more stuff...
- Being taken seriously.
- How my father became a star.
- So, you wanna' be a country star?
- Who do you like better, Garth or Gershwin?
- You'll eat what you're served...
- The Media: Out with the old, in with the new.
- It's great exposure.
Thoughts on some of the people I've played with or known.
- Charlie Rich
- Freddy Fender
- Smokey Robinson
- Jo-El Sonnier
- Randy Meisner
- Billy Swan
- Flaco Jimenez
- Augie Meyers
- Doug Sahm
- Jerry Lee Lewis
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