The Birth Of The Eagles! Linda Ronstadt’s Back-Up Band Had A “Peaceful Easy Feeling!”

birth of the eagles

Meet The Eagles!

The story of The Eagles is a fascinating one for so many reasons. They wrote some of the biggest hits of all time, like “Best Of My Love”, “Hotel California” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling”…

I recently found a great article that explains how one of the biggest-selling groups of all time began as Linda Ronstadt’s backup band!

linda-ronstadt songs

Linda Ronstadt was one of the best singers of the 70’s, which big hits like “You’re No Good”, “Blue Bayou” and “Hurts So Bad”…and she was close friends with the musicians who would become The Eagles!

History of the Eagles documentary

Meet The Eagles!

There is a great documentary that was made about The Eagles…a history of the band that includes incredible rare early footage of the band, along with candid interviews from all members…


The original members of the band were Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Randy Meisner…four musicians who played on a number of albums of the early 70’s – and they became good friends with one of the hottest singers of that era…

linda rondstadt albums

Linda Ronstadt epitomized the LA music scene at the time, along with Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Jackson Browne and James Taylor…

Linda Ronstadt's best music

Linda Ronstadt Autobiography book

In 2014, Ronstadt released her autobiography “Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir” – and she told Billboard magazine about being part of the “birth of The Eagles”, who were her backup band!

eagles longrun linda ronstadt

Here are some great of Ronstadt’s memories about the birth of the band, beginning with the first time she saw Don Henley play drums:

“[Producer] John Boylan was very active in helping me put a band together in those days. He knew all the musicians, and apparently Don Henley had already sent him some songs he had written. He’d heard me sing, he’d heard my records, he wanted to meet me and he came to L.A. hoping he could, and he had written some songs he hoped maybe I’d record. He sent them to John and they didn’t turn out to be good songs for me at the time, but I heard him play the drums when I was walking through the room at the Troubadour and I thought he was such a good drummer. He had country mixed with rock in a way that didn’t compromise either genre. So I said, ‘Let’s see if we can get him to play drums,’ and John went to talk to him and he said, ‘All right.’

don-henley-with linda ronstadtjpg

“So we hired [Henley] to play drums. And then I needed a guitar player. I couldn’t take Bernie Leadon ’cause he was working with the Flying Burrito Brothers, so I said ‘All right, I’ll get Glenn Frey. He can play really good guitar.’ I was living with J.D. Souther then, and [Frey] was J.D.’s music partner. They had a group called Longbranch Pennywhistle. They were kind of breaking up; they decided to go their separate ways, but they were still really good friends. So I asked Glenn if he would come on that tour with us.

Linda Ronstadt Eagles backing band

Here is Ronstadt sharing Glenn Frey’s thoughts on Don Henley:

“In those days we didn’t have enough money to put people in separate rooms, so Glenn and Don were rooming together and they each discovered the other could sing and was a great songwriter. Glenn used to call Don his secret weapon. He said, ‘I’m gonna do a band with Don. We’re gonna do a band together.’ I said, ‘That’s a great idea.’

Linda Ronstadt and Glenn Frey Eagles

“So we all talked about it. John said, ‘I can help you do this. I can help you put this band together, and while you’re waiting to get a record deal, you can play with Linda and you can have a gig.’ It was one of those kinds of situations where it was in everybody’s advantage. So I suggested they get Bernie Leadon to play guitar ’cause I liked Bernie and John suggested that they get Randy Meisner, and that’s how the Eagles were formed!


This great picture of a very young Eagles band was found on this terrific blog:

Back to Ronstadt, who describes seeing the Eagles come together as a band:

“They used to rehearse in my house, where I was living with J.D., ’cause we had a bigger living room than they did. And I remember coming home one day and they had rehearsed ‘Witchy Woman’ and they had all the harmonies worked out, four-part harmonies. It was fantastic. I knew it was gonna be a hit. You could just tell. They had really strong voices, really strong playing, really strong songwriting ideas and they had an extended pool of songwriters like Jack Tempchin and J.D. Souther and Jackson Browne. It was just an amazing time. There was no way they could miss with all that going for them.”

Linda Ronstadt and the eagles

Lots of great anecdotes from Ronstadt about her backing band and the birth of The Eagles – and they also performed together!

Hanging With The Governor!

Yes, Ronstadt dated California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, and they went onstage at an Eagles show for this iconic photo…


Here is Linda Ronstadt performing “Desperado” live in 1974, backed by The Eagles!

Glenn Frey Linda Ronstadt

This was an amazing time for music – and what a mashup of music and politics as well!

Ronstadt was one of the great female singers in rock…for proof, look at this live versions of her smash hit “You’re No Good” from The Midnight Special – with her raucous backup band!

Linda Ronstadt and Glenn Frey Eagles

Ronstadt no longer performs, but she left us with a great library of music.

Glenn Frey was a good friend of Ronstadt’s…and here is my story about how he wrote “Lyin’ Eyes” with Don Henley:

And finally, I was lucky enough to see The History Of The Eagles tour in 2013:

Eagles on stage with eagles logo

You can see a couple of clips from the show by clicking here:

Leave a message and let me know what you think of the “birth of the Eagles!”


Categories: 70's Music, Art, Books / Media, Classic Rock, documentary films, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Memoirs, Music, Politics, Talent/Celebrities, TV Show, Uncategorized

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12 replies

  1. Just fantastic! Loved it!

  2. Very thorough, broad, and thoughtful piece.
    Thank you for all of the work necessary for us to get an in depth look at The Eagles and how they influenced 30 years of American music.

  3. What reason do you post a pic of Ronstadt and the band with Jerry Brown, unless you want to tell the World, “hey, I’m a Commie.”

  4. I love that photo of David Lindley looking at Governor Moonbeam!


  1. “On The Border!” The Eagles Say Hello To Don Felder! Goodbye To Glyn Johns! Don Henley’s Brilliant #1 “Best Of My Love!” – johnrieber
  2. The Eagles Swan Song! “Long Road Out Of Eden”! Glenn Frey’s Farewell! – johnrieber
  3. The Eagles! Their Smash Hit Debut Album! The Iconic “Winslow Arizona” Statue! – johnrieber
  4. The Sound Of “E”! Eagles! Eminem! ELO! Pearl Jam! Elvis Costello Too! – johnrieber
  5. Eagles “Hotel California” Anniversary! “Lyin’ Eyes!” “Sunset Grill!” My LA-Based Eagles Landmarks – johnrieber
  6. The Eagles Debut Album! “Take It Easy!” 3 Things You Didn’t Know About Winslow, Arizona! Glenn Frey Statue Now As Well! – johnrieber

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