July 1980: The Night The Eagles Split

Eagles at Press conference, Tokyo, February 1976.
Photo Credit
Koh Hasebe/Shinko Music/Getty Images

The Eagles had soared high off the success of their soft rock soothers, including “Hotel California,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” which had certified the band's spirit of California mysticism and changed the course of popular music. 

RELATED: March 1981: Joe Walsh Releases "There Goes The Neighborhood"

But such mythos had changed them, too. Underlying these masterpieces and extraordinary album sales was a growing tension between the bandmates, already worn down as they wrapped a massive world tour in support of The Long Run, an album that took 18 months to finalize.

The last straw for the band would come at a Long Beach show, referred to as "Long Night at Wrong Beach," that would also double as a fundraiser for California Senator Alan Cranston, despite guitarist Don Felder's objections.

During the show's meet-and-greet, Felder could no longer withhold his frustrations, and when he was introduced to the senator’s wife, Norma Cranston, backstage, he responded, “Nice to meet you," before adding, “I guess," as she walked away.

Overhearing his remark, a very annoyed Glenn Frey immediately confronted him in a state of rage just as the show was about to kick off. 

"So now we're onstage, and Felder looks back at me and says, 'Only three more songs till I kick your ass, pal,'" Frey recalled. "And I'm saying, 'Great. I can't wait. We're out there singing 'Best of My Love,' but inside both of us are thinking, 'As soon as this is over, I'm gonna kill him.' That was when I knew I had to get out."

The show continued - but so did the spiteful tension between two bandmates. “As the night progressed, we both grew angrier and began hissing at each other under our breath,” Frey explained in his memoir Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles. “The sound technicians feared the audience might hear our outbursts, so they lowered Glenn’s microphone until he had to sing. He approached me after every song to rant, rave, curse — and let me know how many songs remained before our fight.”

The nail-biting show wrapped with Joe Walsh's "All Night Long," before the curtains closed and Felder unleashed his anger by obliterating an acoustic guitar in front of both Frey and the Cranstons. 

Though he calmed down after a day or two, things would never fully return to normal. As he wrote in his memoir, the band's producer Bill Szymczyk would call him to inform him, "There is no band at this time."  

The band devastated an entire nation with their breakup in the 80’s, but following a 14-year hiatus, they embarked on another series of tours and albums beginning with “The Eagles: Hell Freezes Over.”

Said Henley in a statement, “I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet.”

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