Eagles Give a History Lesson

Former Member Bernie Leadon Makes Surprise Appearance at Nashville Concert

Sometimes, it’s absolutely marvelous when history repeats itself. As a case in point, the History of the Eagles tour, a glorious three-hour show, is making its way across the U.S.

Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh blew the roof off of Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena during a Wednesday night (Oct. 16) concert to a sold-out concert crowd of more than 14,000 fans. I’d been seen them in concert before, so I knew I was in for a night of magic.

But the Nashville show wasn’t simply a recap of massive hits like “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Witchy Woman,” “Lyin’ Eyes” or “Hotel California.” It was truly a history lesson filled with stories of the iconic band’s earliest days when founding members Henley and Frey used to pay a guy named Bud $6 an hour to rent a rehearsal space in California. The recollections included how they came to be Linda Ronstadt’s backing band and how graciously she accepted the news of their departure to form their own band.

Of course, to back all this up, they’d need another original voice to chime in. Enter Bernie Leadon, another founding member of the band, who made a surprise appearance to share in the candid conversation and great music. Leadon, who left the band in the mid-70s, is now a Nashvillian and a highly-respected and beloved producer about town.

He took the stage unassumingly to thunderous applause, dressed in a T-shirt from Jim ’n Nick’s barbecue to perform one of his great Eagles tunes “Train Leaves Here This Morning” along with a few others.

As the night progressed, the band powered through their extensive catalog with such musicianship and harmonic precision it was as if someone had simply turned on an Eagles record and just let it play.

They flawlessly played “Tequila Sunrise,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “I Can’t Tell You Why” and “In the City.” Walsh danced around, whipped out his signature talk box for “Those Shoes” and absolutely rocked “Rocky Mountain Way” and “Life’s Been Good.” And Henley broke your heart and left you wanting more with the night’s final number, “Desperado.”

Each member took time to personally address the crowd and thank fans for their unwavering love and support over 40-plus years of making music.

The Eagles are credited with pioneering a movement in country and rock that forever changed music, but if you ask Frey, he might deny it.

“The Beach Boys were pioneers,” he said. “The Eagles were settlers.”

Hands down, the best quote of the night, but I must respectfully disagree. The Eagles were — and are — anything but settlers.

Samantha is a country radio insider with a deep love for the music and its stars. She can often be found on a red carpet or at a late-night guitar pull.