Don Felder spent about 20 minutes backstage with us, show and tell about many of his guitars. Super nice guy and down to earth. Made me feel comfortable. The guitar in the picture is not the original Hotel California guitar, but an exact replica he plays. The original is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And the Eagles box. Bet that box has been around! (Click images to see them larger)
I've Met An Eagle
Have you had the opportunity to meet a member of the band? Send your stories and photos to email@example.com and we'll post them here!
I was at a concert called the soundtrack of summer tour and it included 3 bands Don Felder, Styx, and foreigner and I'm a huge eagles fan loved them since I was 3 years old, I brought my hotel California album to throw on stage to see if he would sign it but when the show was over he left the stage immediately so I talked to a security guard to see if I could go backstage and of course it was a NO but there's a walkway where people can go to get to VIP parking and there was a tour bus there and I met his bass player and keyboard player who were very very friendly to comeback after he performs a song with Styx, so I did and waited 15 minutes and finally got lucky enough to meet Don Felder who was very very nice and kind, he signed my album and I took a picture, very nice man
I met Timothy at Thanksgiving 2010 in Scottsdale AZ at The Compound Grill. Thanksgiving Day I was looking at Eagles stuff on the internet when I discovered that Timothy was going to be playing less than 20 miles from where I live in Phoenix, the very next day! I called immediately and tickets were still available to needless to say we purchased two right away. The next day we went to find the venue because we didn't know the area that well. We met with the venue manager and he could tell how excited I was so he told us that when we arrived that evening for the concert that we should let him know when we arrived. That being said, upon our arrival I found him and he told us to "sit tight" for a moment and that he'd be right back. Can you believe that he created us an extra table right at the front of the stage by the stage door???!! We were blown away by the gesture and needless to say had a FABULOUS time! Timothys' concert was GREAT and the best part was meeting him, courtesy of a man who must be once of the nicest security guys on the face of the planet. We spent a few minutes with Timothy and got some pictures! I also have GREAT pictures of the concert - up close and personal. It was the best!
BIRMINGHAM 20 JULY 2001
“Would I go and see them again? – Just bought 4 tickets for Birmingham on 20 July. We’re in block 12 near the front of the upper tier. Be sure to give us a wave or leave the back stage passes at the box office!”
That’s how I finished my review of the Manchester show on 18 June – How prophetic! I’ll have to bear this in mind for the end of this review. For those who attended the show, did you see Timothy keep looking up into the audience stage left and waving?
I’m writing this while sitting in my car outside the kids’ school. It’s last day of term and they usually get the bus home but today I’m leaving nothing to chance. Birmingham is only 65 miles away but it’s notorious for it’s traffic congestion and Timothy’s management have asked us to try to arrive by 6:15 – we’re meeting him before the show.
I don’t really know what to expect; I’m trying not to think about it so I have no pre-conceptions and I haven’t got any questions prepared at all. What I have got though is A LOT of things for Timothy to sign – some Eagles stuff but mostly solo stuff.
The kids get out of school at 3:15 and they’re bundled into the car (all you quick-witted fans will realise that I’m no longer writing this bit in the car – manual gear stick and steering now having to take priority) and we arrive home at 3:25. The kids are sent upstairs to change into their Eagles gear, the in-laws have arrived to look after baby Abigail (the one who inspired the competition entry) and my wife Helen is having second doubts about going because this will be the longest she will have left Abigail. I try to put it into perspective by explaining that she will be left for a maximum of 10 hours but if she wanted to stay behind, I would be quite happy to take the kids and report back in fine detail.
Five minutes later, Abigail has been abandoned and we’re on our way to Birmingham! We’ve got “Feed The Fire” and “Tell Me The Truth” to listen to on the way down. My Japanese version of the former arrived in the post this morning with the bonus track on which I’ll concentrate more later. (I had seen this advertised on Ebay and many thanks to L&M for the advice by email that to their knowledge “Just Say Goodbye” had not been previously released.) It takes a full 2½ hours to arrive at the venue at 6:10 – Just in time!
The guest list hasn’t arrived at the box office yet so we don’t actually get in until 6:30. The passes and tickets are in an Eagles envelope which will be kept for posterity. Now excuse me while I backtrack and give some background on the competition win.
A copy of my competition entry is on the Eagleland message board under “UK and European fans” in response to a post by Amy. Since receiving the email from the Eagles management saying that I’d won the competition, I needed to clear up a couple of issues. The competition was for two tickets and backstage passes but it was clear from my entry that I wanted to take Eleanor and Jennifer to meet Timothy so would it be possible to have 4 tickets?
I think the Eagles management must be based on the West Coast because the replies seemed to be suffering from a large time lag but the response eventually came back as no – only 2 tickets. Well at least I already had some for the show. So, where do I get the tickets and backstage passes from? A reply came saying “The tickets will be held for you at will call at the venue.” What on Earth is “will call”? And since my name had been published on Timothy’s web site saying I was a winner, what was to stop people from saying they were me? (Apart from not having my charm, wit and dashing good looks, it could be pulled off!) Call me a pessimist, but this really was a big deal to me.
After several similar confusing (to me) messages, an email arrives the day before the concert giving me the phone number and email address of Katie Weston, the assistant to the Eagles tour manager – She was absolutely brilliant! Within 10 minutes she had arranged 4 tickets and 4 backstage passes – no problem at all. Huge thanks go to Katie as from that moment I was certain that everything was going to be OK.
Back to the story. We have to wear our backstage passes all the time. Katie led us down some stairs and along many passageways until we came to the corridor of the Eagles dressing rooms. We are told that we have got 15 minutes with Timothy. As we are wearing VIP passes and not Access All Areas, we have to be escorted by security to Timothy’s dressing room. Now, what follows, didn’t necessarily happen in this order, but it did happen.
The security guard (I think his name was Sweeney) knocked on the door and Timothy answered. Personally, I thought Timothy gave me a strange look but I thought no more of it and introduced myself and shook his hand. I was about to introduce the girls but Timothy went up to them and said “Now you must be Eleanor” and shook her hand “and you must be Jennifer” and shook her hand too. The girls were astounded that Timothy knew who they were without being introduced. Obviously, he had just read my competition entry (which was on his dressing table) and with Eleanor being the eldest, she was bound to be the tallest but the fact that Timothy took the trouble to do this… Well, what can I say? We already knew he was a great guy. Of course, he didn’t know Helen’s name because she wasn’t mentioned in the competition.
As we walked through the door, there was a wall immediately to the left which was about 12 feet long. There was a practice amp and bass guitar leaning against this wall. The wall opposite the door was about 15 feet long – to the left was a small dressing table with a mirror above with lights around it. To the right of that was Timothy’s portable wardrobe. There was no spare wall space between these two items. The right hand wall had a door which led to a toilet and shower room. It also had a blue leather chair next to it (in which I sat) and a narrow table up against it (behind the chair) with several bottles of Evian water, a small container of ice and a basket of fruit. Against the back wall was a blue 2-seater leather sofa upon which Helen and the kids sat. There was a small table in front of the seats which had some food and cutlery. Timothy asked us if we were hungry. We said we weren’t and he moved the food on to his dressing table.
One of the first questions we asked was whether this was a typical size for a dressing room. He said this was actually SMALL (he emphasised the word) compared to most dressing rooms. We asked him whether he minded signing autographs and having his photo taken. Of course he didn’t so I started getting things out of my bottomless bag – just a few at a time.
We talked about the competition entry and Timothy agreed that “All I Want To Do” did have a lullaby feel to it. The girls sat quietly on the sofa when we went through the story of how when Eleanor was a baby, she was screaming the house down – she wasn’t hungry, didn’t need to be changed and wasn’t suffering from wind – when all of a sudden I sang the song to her and she just calmed down, listened very attentively and finally fell asleep.
The previous night’s competition winner was also a young girl who went with her aunty. She wanted to meet Timothy because it was her birthday. I think Timothy was convinced that the aunty was the real fan and just wanted to make sure that our girls were real fans too. He suddenly asked Eleanor what her favourite song was. She said it was “The Shadow” and Timothy said “You know, that’s my favourite too – That’s why I put it on first.”
I then got on to the subject he had mentioned in several interviews – the fact that he’d dropped one of his own songs from the new CD for one he hadn’t written. I asked him if it was the one on the Japanese version. He asked me what that one was and I said “Just Say Goodbye”. He said it was. We told him we didn’t understand why because it’s a brilliant song.
Timothy went on to explain that “in the old days” when only vinyl was available, there was a limited number of minutes you could get on a record. With the advent of compact disc (I’m paraphrasing here) bands feel they have 78 minutes to fill regardless of quality and this can bring down the overall quality of and album so that’s why he stuck to 44 minutes.
We didn’t argue with him because he had a valid argument. But I’d like to say now that that view only stands if the filler tracks are mediocre or worse. “Just Say Goodbye” is an excellent song and its inclusion wouldn’t have taken anything away from the album.
I’m lucky that I’ve got the track but there are a lot of Timothy fans who will never hear it which is a shame. By now, you will probably know that L&M have put up a sample of this track on the site and if you agree with me and would like to hear the rest of it, why not go to Timothy’s site and petition him to make a download available or to include it as part of his next single. Let him know that you heard about it on the Fastlane and let’s see if all Fastlane visitors can come up with a result. I’m really sure that he would love all the positive feedback.
Oh yes, can you guess what song he would have left off if “Just Say Goodbye” was on the album? “Every Song Is You.” We said “NO WAY.” I commented that it sounded very Poco and Timothy said “That’s what people say.”
Of course, while all this conversation is taking place, Timothy is busily signing autographs. When he comes to a picture I’ve had enlarged of me and Timothy shaking hands at Tower Records he says “I thought I recognised you.” Suddenly an explanation for the strange look I got earlier on. Needless to say, the author is very pleased. I explained that I only decided to travel down at 2 O'clock on the day, had arrived at Tower Records at 5:30 and that he had signed all 4 of my CD covers.
He told the girls that if they needed the toilet, they could use his because there would be big queues outside. Just imagine, they could say that they used Timothy B Schmit’s toilet (this got a chuckle from Timothy). The girls declined. Perhaps it was for the best – you know – “Thanks Tim. Wouldn’t go in there for a while if I were you!”
Timothy obviously thought that he had signed everything in my bottomless bag so he went to get some guitar picks for Eleanor and Jennifer and some publicity photos on which he wrote “Thanks for coming” to Eleanor and “Nice to meet you” to Jennifer. These photos are now framed and take pride of place on their bedside tables.
But there was still more stuff in the bag. Out came my Japanese “Feed The Fire” CD cover, “Every Song is You” CD single and “Love Will Keep US Alive” CD single. As it’s impossible to tell from the front cover, I tell Timothy it’s the Japanese version. He takes an immediate interest and goes over to his dressing table to put his glasses on. He says that he hasn’t seen it because he hasn’t ordered his copy yet. The only difference is that the title, author and musicians are listed in the lyrics section but there are no lyrics printed. It does come with a booklet which has the lyrics to all the songs except “Just Say Goodbye” in Japanese and a bio on Timothy. All I can understand from the numbers is that he was born on 20 October 1947. “No, it’s wrong” says Timothy “it’s 30 October – The day before Hallowe’en.” I wonder if he’ll get it corrected?
The INTERNET. At one stage we discussed Timothy’s web site. I said I actually stumbled across the competition by accident in his live section as obviously he’s on tour with the Eagles and it just lists the dates and venues. So I had a little grumble about it being in an inconspicuous place. But this was really just a ruse to discuss the Fastlane.
Out of the bottomless bag came the prints from the Eagleland message board. I explained that this was a site I visited on a regular basis and that a lot of his fans also visited and that I had offered to pass on any messages they had for him. I asked whether he had heard of the site. He said that he had visited but infrequently. I wonder what would appear in his “Have List” if he went to the trading section?
It was coming towards the end of our time and Timothy looked at the table with his hand out and said “Thanks for all this.” He was thanking me for bringing all this stuff for him to sign! I couldn’t believe it!
There was just time to take a couple more photos. I had been thinking what would be the best way to thank L&M for all there years I’ve been using their brilliant website, the site that made me go and buy a computer 4 years ago. (Trying out the internet on a friend’s PC; going to something called a “Search Engine” and typing in “The Eagles” and several minutes later hearing the words “My Daddy was a handsome devil” definitely being sung by the Eagles but not to a tune I’d heard before)
I put myself in their shoes – If I’d been running the website, what I’d really love is a picture of the Eagles holding a copy of the homepage of that site. I couldn’t get all of them but Timothy was more than willing to pose. Hope it achieved the desired effect ladies.
Timothy called Sweeney into the room who took a couple of group photos. Eleanor and Jennifer both got hugs from Timothy (I think Helen was very jealous) and then it was all over.
END OF PART ONE
Coming up in part 2…
Stuff I forgot to tell you from the Timothy meeting.
Glenn Frey’s son’s Headmaster
This is taking a lot longer than expected as I only have lunch hours at work due to a faulty PC at home – give me another couple of days for part 2.
And finally an apology to L&M. When I did buy my first computer, you had a poll on your site asking which person would you choose to write a book about the Eagles. I’m afraid Glenn wasn’t doing very well and I wasn’t too happy about this so I voted for him about 800 times! Yes, it was me – sorry ladies.
Previously on Joe meets Timothy…
The prophetic statement
The abandoned baby
The 2 ½ hour drive to Birmingham
The introductions, discussions and autographs
We "Just Say Goodbye"
… and now the conclusion of season one of what is hopefully the first of the "Joe meets…" series!
As I said at the end of part one, there’s a lot about the meeting I had forgotten and even more that I’ve remembered between now and then. Helen has reminded me of some of it and to be honest, there’s one part that I just can’t remember but Helen does so I’ll report on that too.
After the introductions and getting settled on the blue leather furniture, Timothy received a call on his mobile – It was his wife. Timothy was concerned that he had "the competition winners" with him and was trying to put an early end to the call but without much success (Women!) ;o))
Eventually he got Sweeney the security guard to take the phone off him to sort out whatever the problem was but he said "I love you" before handing it over. (Helen reckons that there was only a small possibility that he might have been saying this to his wife. Dream on Helen). There were apologies for the interruption but we didn’t mind at all.
We discussed his wardrobe – not the clothes in it, but the actual wardrobe itself – I can’t remember how we got on to this subject but I’m sure it was started by Timothy. Apparently it’s cedar-lined which keeps his clothes smelling nice and also discourages moths (I didn’t know the latter). The clothes in it were mainly dark colours and Helen asked whether he had decided what he was wearing but he hadn’t.
Out of the blue, Timothy talked about Paul Carrack, (writer of "Love Will Keep Us Alive" and occasional singer with Mike and the Mechanics) and asked if we knew him – well not personally but we knew some of his songs (as if we go backstage on a regular basis to meet famous artists). He said that he was a really nice guy and that he’d attended one of the shows at Earls Court. Because he said this I put 2 and 2 together and probably came up with 5 and decided that he’s going to be writing for the Eagles new album. I could be wrong of course (probably am) but let’s just wait and see.
We also talked about something puzzling he had said when I went to meet him at Tower Records. He said that he only had 14 copies of the "Timothy B" album. He explained that he had to buy these himself from Japan and it just went to show the support (or lack of it) he got from his record company. Is this an insight in to why he set up his own company? Either way, I’ve still got more copies of the Japanese "Feed The Fire" than he has ;-)
Another thing we discussed while talking about the internet was eBay. I asked him about the LP "Feeling Glad". He became quite animated when I mentioned this and gave a potted history of how he started off in a band named "Tim, Tom and Ron" back in 1962 which changed to "The Contenders" by 1963, then changed their name to "The New Breed" by 1965 and then "Glad" by 1968 and how the LP/band was named after the record company. This obviously brought back fond memories for Timothy but the point I wanted to make was that the album was on eBay and before I left for Birmingham I think the latest bid was around $75. He seemed very impressed with this. I wonder how many copies he’s got of this album? (Going from his track record, he probably hasn’t got round to ordering it yet!)
And the last thing that I mostly remember – since we had Eleanor and Jennifer with us, we talked about our children. Helen asked Timothy whether his son was old enough to realise what he did for a living and how did his friends treat him because he has a famous father.
Timothy explained that his son hadn’t seen him since the HFO tour (alarm bells went off in my head at this point – he hadn’t seen his son in at least 5 years? – but then I realised that he was talking about playing with the Eagles) but then he did a double check and said that it was actually the Millennium concert. He supposed that perhaps it hadn’t really sunk in at that stage but that he had been present for part of the European tour and that perhaps he now realised what his father did.
As for how he’s treated by his friends (and this is the part that Helen remembers), he goes to school with children whose parents are famous movie stars so he isn’t treated any differently from anybody else. Now, I know how Helen thinks and maybe I’ve forgotten this response because I was trying to change the subject before she asked Timothy whether he would agree to an arranged marriage for his son with the two likely candidates sitting in front of him!
I must have successfully changed the subject because Helen didn’t ask the question and that is as much as I can remember.
We exited the backstage area to the right of the stage. Our seats were way over to the left and the only way we could get to them was to go to the back of the arena, up loads of stairs, walk to the front and then down another load of stairs. We were intending to go backstage again during the interval to check out the hospitality and see if we could catch up with the rest of the Eagles but it was looking like it was going to be a long journey and would it be worth it?
On the way to our seats, I had a cursory look at the merchandise stalls. They hadn’t taken my advice about selling guitar picks – I think they’d really sell considering the price they go for on eBay. But what I think would REALLY, REALLY sell is… EAGLES BEANIE BABIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
OK, just indulge me for a while. They can either be sold individually, as a group or by lineup. Don Henley could have a detachable afro (with his current hairstyle underneath); Glen Frey could have detachable facial hair; Timothy B Schmit could have a detachable bass; Joe Walsh a detachable bandanna; Don Felder – well he could just be detachable.
Back to the concert. We hadn’t had anything to eat since lunch so we made our way to the queue for hot food. There were two things wrong with that description – the words "Hot" and "Food" - Should have been called "Tepid Yuck" but then again, I don’t suppose it’s always tepid!
We took the yuck and made our way to our seats. The tickets that we bought for this concert were near the top of block 12. The tickets we were given for winning the competition were right on the front row.
When I went to see Timothy at Tower Records, I met two ladies in the queue called Tracey and Pam. They didn’t have their cameras with them so I took some photos with my digital camera and emailed copies to them. We kept in touch and by a great coincidence, we all ended up getting tickets to this concert. Pam was at the back of the arena but Tracey was near the front of block 12 so I emailed her my seat numbers and told her to look out for me. Obviously, she didn’t know I had these better seats and I spent about 5 minutes watching her stand up and peer to the top of the block. When Helen asked me what I was smiling at, I told her and she spoiled my amusement by going to tell Tracey we were in front. Sorry Tracey!
Tracey had done the same as Timothy because she knew which one was Eleanor and which one was Jennifer. I showed off the contents of my bottomless bag.
The three seats to my right were empty and so were the three behind. When the people arrived, I noticed that the three at the back had American accents – they all had backstage passes. About five minutes later, a man who turned out to be the Eagles tour manager, came over to talk to them. The American asked whether there was any chance of meeting the Eagles after the show. Tour manager said no because they were straight off to Glasgow. Well what about during the interval? Tour manager said he would see what he could arrange.
When the tour manager left, an English lady in the front row asked the American whether that was the man he knew. "No" came the reply "I know Glenn Frey."
My ears pricked up and I was astounded for two reasons; Firstly, I was sitting by someone who knew Glenn and was possibly going to meet him during the interval and; secondly, a person who might get Glenn Frey mixed up with the tour manager is sitting on the front row at an Eagles concert with a backstage pass – there are thousands of real Eagles fans who would love to be in that position. Life just isn’t fair.
Anyway, I did a bit of eavesdropping. The American turned out to be Glenn’s son’s Headmaster! (There – I can stop calling him the American) Some of the not too personal things I can talk about here are that if his family were still on tour with him, Cindy Frey would make sure that Glenn would meet them – Cindy makes things happen. Cindy is also on the board of Governors at the school so that’s how they know each other so well.
At this point I had decided that, trek or no trek, we were going backstage during the interval. I’d only had a chance to tell Helen who I was sitting by and none of the detail so she didn’t know about the possibility of seeing Glenn. We asked whether there was a quicker way backstage and the very helpful security went to find out. Good news – there was!
To be honest, I don’t really remember too much about the first half of the show – I was still on a high after meeting Timothy. The show started late and they missed out "Seven Bridges Road." Don’s voice sounded rough on "The Long Run." The sound quality was consistent but not as good as the HFO tour. Oh yes, when we got to "Already Gone", Glenn had a different introduction. George W Bush had been in Europe to attend the G8 Summit – you know, pollution, the Ozone layer etc – and he dedicated it to Mr Gobbledygook.
When the interval came, there was a mad rush for the toilets but our rush was for another purpose. We went to look for the door towards the front of the building but it was blocked by two security guards. We showed our backstage passes and they courteously opened the door for us (Good things these backstage passes!). We hurried down many flights of stairs and when we got to the bottom, we had a choice of routes to take – it was all guesswork. We decided upon one and entered a very large, very high space which was only dimly lit by some natural light coming through the open entrance shutters. Outside, there were some very large lorries which I assume were waiting to take the equipment on to Glasgow after the show.
There was also a bank of about eight monitors showing various shots of the stage area. This was obviously from where the action on the large screen was being directed. It was totally unattended so I couldn’t ask anybody if they had any spare copies of the shows lying around L
At the other side of the room, there was somebody standing by a door so we decided to go over and ask directions. He was actually guarding the door because it was access to the Eagles dressing rooms and you needed an Access All Areas pass. Even though there were four of us and only one of him, we decided not to overpower him and try to get the Eagles to sign autographs (I was up for it – it was the progeny and their mother who chickened out!), but just asked for directions to hospitality.
It turned out that we were actually behind the backdrop for the stage and there was a partially opened shutter (about a 4 foot gap) which we had to duck under to get to the place we had exited when we had finished our meeting with Timothy.
We went in to the hospitality room – now how do I describe it…? Some of it’s a bit hazy.
Hmm. Well, it was quite a large room. At the back was a serving area, a bit like a bar but made out of what seemed to be white Formica. In front of this area were two round tables, about six feet in diameter with cheap chairs scattered around them. I’m not sure what was to the left but it was free of furniture and clear of clutter.
To the right, against the wall that the door opened from, was a table with various types of coffee and tea, a large container of boiling hot water, some plastic cups and a brown barrel-shaped container of orange GATORADE! (I’m really surprised that my British version of MS Word hasn’t highlighted Gatorade as an unrecognised word – it must be an American institution). I’ve been fascinated about this ever since I read the contract rider on the Fastlane. JW likes cold green and orange Gatorade, Henley likes his at room temperature. I was also expecting it to be fizzy because that’s what "ade" suggests to me.
Even if it isn’t meant to be fizzy, this stuff seemed flat. The taste was of luke warm spit with a hint of orange. If any one can tell me what green Gatorade (MS Word corrects this to a capital G by the way) tastes like, could you please let me know.
While I was drinking my Gatorade, my sixth sense told me to turn around and in walked Glenn Frey with his son. He had come to talk to the headmaster (whose group arrived after us because they obviously didn’t know the shortcut). I don’t know, fancy travelling half way around the world with your father to have a great time watching him perform in front of 15,000 people, only to go to hospitality to meet your headmaster – it really is a small world!
While he was talking, I told Helen that Glenn Frey had walked in and she started frantically searching (and boldly splitting infinitives) for the camera in the bottomless bag. She obviously didn’t need telling that this was someone I had admired for 25 years (who else would vote for him 800 times in the Fastlane book writing poll?) and wanted to catch the moment for posterity.
We waited for him to finish his conversation with the headmaster and then asked if it was alright to take his photo. He said that it was OK. I was thinking of asking him whether he was going to drop "You Belong To The City" from the second half but decided against it and asked him instead to sign my tour book which he was only too happy to do (a wise move on my part. Helen was probably wondering whether Glenn would agree to an arranged marriage for his son – I think her ambition is to be related to all the Eagles!). In between photos and autographs, he kept reminding me "Now you know I’m working don’t you?". Sure Glenn; you’re just a working man. I think this was his way of saying that he’d love to stay and chat but this was only a short interval and he had to get back on stage.
Just as an aside, I’ve told all my friends about going backstage (probably bored them to death) but when I get to the part about Glenn, they always say that I should have got him to sign loads of stuff and ask loads of questions. Well, my take on the situation is this…
Yes, I’ve spent lots of money on CDs, tee shirts, concerts etc but I got what I paid for. Just because I’ve spent all this money, doesn’t mean that Glenn or the Eagles owe me any extras. Glenn was kind enough to pose for some photos and sign my tour book. He didn’t have to – but he very kindly did – and for this, I think he’s a great guy. (Now, if I had won a competition to meet Glenn Frey, then that would have been a different matter.)
I don’t remember Glenn leaving, but Helen says he shook hands with the headmaster and posed for one more photo before going back to his dressing room. Brilliant!
Before leaving, we noticed a bin full of ice, cans of coke (which were German) and Evian water, so we stocked up (all of this is free of course if you’ve got a backstage pass) and got ready to go back to our seats.
We left hospitality and prepared to remember the route back when out of the dressing room area came JOE WALSH!!!! He had come out to meet a friend who had a VIP pass like us. While he was giving him a hug, Helen started rummaging in the bag for the camera and tour book when out came Sweeney to stop us taking photos or asking for an autograph. As I’ve said above, we’d have waited to see if he was prepared to talk to us and if not, then that was OK. But Sweeney was just doing his job (very courteously I must add) so we carried on back to our seats.
When we got back, I swapped seats with Helen. A couple of minutes later, the headmaster’s group returned. Helen asked whether they were the ones who had just met Glenn. They asked whether we knew Glenn. "I wish!" said Helen, and she told them about the competition. They were interested to know what I had been writing during the concert. She explained that I was writing the set list and some notes for a review I was going to do for L&Ms Fastlane – the Eagles site on the internet. They were suitably impressed!
The second half was as per previous set lists. The only notes I made were about JW who was really on top form. When it came to "Life’s Been Good", he introduced it by saying "I would like to explain this song… but I can’t – I haven’t got a clue – I must have had a mood swing or something." When he sang "My Maserati does 185", Glenn cuts in with "In reverse!" And of course we all know about "Whassup!"
On "Funk #49" where we have the false ending, Joe was gesturing to the band by making a circle with his thumb a forefinger and when it came to the false ending – it actually ended! I don’t think that the Eagles thought Joe was really going to do this, but he did. They were all laughing.
The set ended with the normal three encores. It was all over. It took us 25 minutes just to get out of the car park and we were home just after 1am. What an experience!
I’d like to send our thanks to Timothy for giving us this opportunity of a lifetime – we’ll NEVER forget it. Also thanks to Lisa and Melissa for kindly agreeing to put this on their site – I’ve really enjoyed doing it. Also apologies to L&M for our 6am chats about Gatorade, imaginary beanie babies, whether I’m allowed to use the word "shitty" – loads of things. Thanks for putting up with me.
Now we’re waiting for the next Eagles album. Personally, I’d like at least four of the songs to be written by the Henley/Frey songwriting combination and if not all, but at least most of the Eagles writing the rest of the songs.
Now, I’ve got this theory that the Eagles or their staff were checking the reviews on the Fastlane because that’s the next best place after the feedback the reaction from the audience gives. Well if you’re still checking, I’d just like to say that if you do need help writing songs, or critiquing the songs you’ve already written, then just send me an email – Timothy knows my address. I’ll work for food and lodgings!
The Eagles’Little Known First Flight
as Jackson Browne’s Surprise Band
By Harry Viens
In 1972 two icons of the entertainment world got their start without much fanfare or initial public notice. One, The HBO subscription channel, virtually created premium subscription cable channels. The other, the founding of the seminal band, The Eagles, changed the music scene dramatically, bringing country-western inspired rock into the mainstream and onto the airwaves across the USA.
Starting out as a road band for Linda Ronstadt, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon and Randy eisner had quickly discovered the personal and musical chemistry that would later make them successful. Once the Ronstadt tour was finished they had begun practicing together with the goal of recording an introductory album and beginning to tour. Late in the winter of 1972 they took a break from the studio and dropped by The Cellar Door in Washington DC to spend some time with an old friend, Jackson Browne. Jackson Browne had just released his album Saturate Before Using in September of 1971 and was in the middle of a post-release club tour.
The Cellar Door, under the astute management of Jack Boyle (now retired and former chairman of the music division of SFX Entertainment, now Clear Channel Communications) had recently achieved national stature as a premier live music venue and was considered the East coast equivalent of the legendary Troubadour in Los Angeles. Jackson Browne was there for a weeklong gig along with David Blue who was the opening act. I specifically remember that Blue performed his song “Outlaw Man,” which a year later would appear on the Eagles second album i>Desperado, featuring Glenn Frey on lead vocals. Back in 1972, I was the bartender, and right out of college.
The Cellar Door was a terrific live venue with a high profile in the music industry. The smallness of the club, seating at most two hundred and twenty people (if the fire marshal wasn’t looking) made every show intimate and exciting. The professional lighting and sound enhanced the experience and made for a near perfect show time after time. It was a grueling gig for most musicians though. The standard contract paid between $6000 and $8000 for the week and required fourteen shows: two each night Monday through Thursday, three on Friday and Saturday night. Some groups, the Butterfield Blues Band for example, barely cleared anything for themselves once they paid their bar tab. It was a far cry from today’s concert scene where a single performance in a large stadium can gross well into seven figures. In 1972 musicians really worked for their money!!
During the Monday afternoon set-up and sound check Jackson told the club manager (Ralph Camilli, who today owns and operates Blues Alley in Washington DC, one of the premier jazz clubs in North America) to expect a “drop-in” from some musician friends and to please extend every possible courtesy to them. Actually the words were more like, “Take good care of these guys.” Ralph passed the word along to the doormen, the sound engineer and me. As bartender I provided the second most valuable service to the musicians: access to free booze.
None of us knew at the time who Ralph was talking about, and even Tuesday evening when Glenn, Bernie and Randy showed up at the bar with a mighty thirst it took us a little while to sort out where we knew these guys from. Through casual conversation it dawned on us that we knew them from one of Linda Ronstadt’s appearances at The Cellar Door; we also knew Randy as a founder of oco and from his work on their first album, Pickin Up The Pieces, and we knew Bernie’s work with Dillard & Clark and The Flying Burrito Brothers. It was exciting to really have a chance to get to know these artists face-to-face, and at the same time it was pretty ordinary. Working at The Cellar Door had exposed us all to some remarkable talents such as B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Tom Rush, Linda Ronstadt, Neil Young, Richard Pryor and dozens more. The simple truth of it is that, at least in 1972, most of these fabulously talented artists, when off stage, were “just regular folks.” By Wednesday a few of the waiters and I were playing poker together with Glenn, Bernie, Don and Randy in Jackson Browne’s room at the Marriott hotel in Arlington, drinking beer and carrying on like a bunch of fraternity brothers. (Important note, if any of them ever invite you to play poker, don’t, unless of course you have plenty of money to lose. They’re that good.)
We had some great conversations at the card table that I still remember to this day. Glenn told me he was from Detroit and was a big hockey fan. A couple of years later after The Eagles made it big, I would always see pictures from their concerts of Glenn onstage in hockey jerseys of the Chicago Blackhawks; every time I saw him in one of these pictures, I would wonder why he was never wearing a jersey of his hometown Detroit Red Wings. Go figure. Bernie was very mild-mannered and we both talked about our upbringings in the Catholic Church. I think he told me that he was one of nine kids. I always thought him to be conservative in his mannerisms. I would have a chuckle four years later at the height of his fame with the band when I learned that he had been living with Patti Davis for a while; it seems that her father, Ronald Reagan, the nation’s premier conservative, did not invite her to join the rest of the Reagan clan onstage at the 1976 Republican convention (in which Reagan narrowly lost the nomination to President Ford) because she was “living in sin” with a rock star.
Don was extremely affable and told me about growing up in a small town in rural Texas. I specifically remember him telling me that he loved playing as part of Linda Ronstadt’s back-up band for a host of reasons. While he thought that the pay was more than adequate for a struggling musician like himself, and that the food was great, he pointed out that the Ronstadt tour gave him the opportunity to fly in a plane for the first time. Randy told me that he had been the bassist with Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band only the year before. It was clear by what he said about his former boss that he had only the utmost respect for Nelson as both a musician and as a person.
One fact that stands out in my mind to this day is that one or two of the future rock stars referred to their friend Jackson Browne as “The Kraut”, which Browne just laughed off. I later learned that Browne had been born in West Germany, but on a US Army base and therefore was not German at all.
It was over a hand of five card stud that Jackson first suggested that they take the stage with him. The remark was a game stopper. Hands were folded up or put (face) down on the table and a pretty serious discussion ensued. There were lots of reasons not to play. They didn’t feel like they were ready. Their material was new and still coming together. They’d really only performed the material in the studio so far. Frankly they were unsure of themselves and they were a little bit scared.
Jackson pooh-poohed their concerns and just kept repeating the idea. The concerns, fears and hesitation continued, but in the end, their enthusiasm and passion for what they were trying to do won out. They agreed, sort of, and Thursday they nervously filed into the dressing room where they continued the debate. I was busy running bottles of beer back and forth, supplemented with some shots of tequila. The club opened its doors at seven PM and I went to work putting out drinks for the crowd filling up the floor and two balconies of the club for Jackson’s first set at eight. The club was packed for the first show and Don, Glen, Bernie and Randy were walking back and forth from the stage entrance to the bar, detouring through the club, sizing the crowd up, lifting their heads up and around to study the lights, the acoustics, the size of the stage. It was as if they were looking at the room for the first time. Sometime between the eight o’clock show and the ten o’clock show the final decision was made.
I was on the club floor helping the waiters clear tables as the early crowd filed out past the line waiting for the ten o’clock show. Randy walked down the main aisle of the club looking for Glenn. They literally stumbled into each other at the curtain to the service bar and I heard Randy say, “So, we’re going to do this?” Glenn nodded his head and that was it. While the waiters set the club up for the next show, the doormen, Ralph Camilli, the light and sound engineer and I helped move their instruments onto the stage, set up some extra microphones and got their amps powered up. The whole set-up took maybe twenty minutes and the crowd started piling in moments later just as the lights came down.
David Blue took the stage precisely at ten o’clock for a thirty minute set. The waiters worked the crowd putting out a second and third round of drinks and Jackson Browne took the stage around ten-forty-five. He opened with his standard set but after the second song he stopped, stepped up to the microphone and said, “Paging Mr. Blue.” David joined him on stage, and then Jackson turned to the audience and said, “I have some friends here tonight, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. They’ve started a new group and I’ve asked them to play with me tonight. So, here for the first time anywhere live, won’t you please welcome The Eagles.”
There were only about two hundred people in the audience that night, but it was the loudest round of applause any of us had ever heard. You could see Don and Bernie shaking a bit as they picked up their instruments and adjusted their microphones. Glenn grabbed a microphone, blabbered something to the effect of, this was their first time as a group in front of an audience and they were nervous as hell. The crowd responded with a knowing laugh and encouraging applause and a moment later, with Jackson and Glenn taking the lead, they launched into “Take It Easyi>.”
I closed the bar and was standing on the club floor just enjoying the show. The waiters, the doormen, Ralph and the assistant manager all did the same, all of us just basking in the magic that was taking place on stage. At the end of their first song the audience went wild. You could see the tension melt off of the faces of what was now, forever, The Eagles. They launched into their next song and proceeded to turn the place out. Ralph shooed us all back to work, but as we plied the crowd with liquor we all found ourselves moving to the rhythm the band was laying down. By Saturday we knew most of their first album, i>Eagles, by heart.
I think that there is a bit of fate in the fact that they opened their first ever appearance with “Take It Easy,” a song that unbelievably would only reach number twelve on The Billboard charts, but has taken on a life of its own as one of the staples of classic rock, country and easy listening FM stations nationwide, en route to becoming one of the most widely plays songs of the rock era. Not only did they start off with “Take It Easy” that night, but the song would also start off as the first song on their 1976 album i>The Eagles: Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975. This album would go on to become the top-selling album of all-time, passing out Michael Jackson’s Thriller in the 1990’s, while leaving Carole King’s Tapestry as just a footnote in history.
Friday and Saturday Jackson Browne and The Eagles played to a sold-out club. They played with energy, enthusiasm, passion and by the Saturday night midnight show, a confidence that hasn’t waned to this day. Their “official” first public gig would be later that year in Venice, California at a gallery opening party for Boyd Elder, a well-known artist and friend of the Eagles, but a select few hundred Jackson Browne fans in Washington DC had the real “first appearance” privilege.(i>ed..official band lore is that the band's first appearance was at Disneyland) I wonder if any of them have ever realized that they saw history in the making? Hopefully this article will somehow cross their paths.
The Cellar Door closed in the late-seventies as large venue concerts became increasingly the norm. No surprise I guess. How can you charge only a $3.50 cover charge per person and expect to compete with stadiums that seat thirty thousand and more? The Eagles’ appearance at The Cellar Door was the only time they ever played there, and I would guess it was also the only time the Eagles played as a backup band, for no pay./p>
Harry Viens, a Connecticut resident and former advertising executive, is currently working on a novel about his unique experiences at The Cellar Door. He can be reached through his website at www.HarryViens.com.
© Copyright 2005, H. H. Viens, All rights reserved.