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Though the history comes off more as the Adventures of Don Henley and Glenn Frey…and the other guys in the band; Eagles fans will still enjoy this romp down nostalgia lane. The story is mainly from Henley and Frey’s perspectives so take everything with a grain-no a bucket-of salt. The interviews of Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner, Don Felder, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmidt are sprinkled in. You also hear from a lot of “players” in the game of rock-n-roll, including managers, producers and record label owners. Part one covers the bands formation and its evolution through the mid 1970’s. The old video footage is a hoot. The hair, the mustaches, the outfits, the “70’s bush,” the trip to Joshua Tree, and the western themed album cover footage is all great nostalgia. There was initially a lot of collaboration between the four founding members but that collaborative atmosphere dwindled as some of the early albums did not fare as well as they hoped. As the mid 70’s approached, Henley and Frey began to seize control over the band, its direction, and the song writing. In Leadon’s interview, he chimes in with Henley and Frey to discuss aspects of the bands evolution and their experiences together-both at work and at play. Leadon was clearly very involved in the bands early development and contributed a lot to its successes. He comes off as down to earth, good natured and smart-then and now. Part one ends with Leadon supposedly being edged out so they could pursue a harder rock sound. However, it seems likely Leadon’s departure was really motivated by Henley and Frey’s determination to edge out anyone who did not cede them 100% compliance and full control over the band. You hear little from Meisner. Part two covers Meisner’s departure, the disintegration of the band in the late 1970’s and its implosion in 1980. It also includes what Henley, Frey, Felder, Walsh and Schmidt were doing until hell froze over, their reunification and tours, and the fall out with Felder. Walsh’s candid discussion of his addictions and rehab is refreshing. His ability to break free after all of those years is inspiring. Schmidt is very low key and soft spoken. And then there is Don Felder. He is so talented and I really want to feel sorry for him but while he had darn good reason to take a stand, the way he went about it was complete folly. Meisner and Felder got the same treatment as Leadon. Henley and Frey’s partnership is fascinating and a little scary. It seems like Henley is the mastermind and Frey is the Henchman that does the bullying-and he likes that role-a lot. Frey’s flagrant indifference to and lack of respect for his fellow band members is troubling. From his own description of events, Frey is a hot head whose obnoxious behavior and loudmouth comments caused much of the friction and turmoil within the band. Shoot, he got under my skin just listening to him in the interviews. By the time the show was over I wanted to pour a beer over his head. Hopefully Frey’s apology for his outrageous behavior over the years is genuine and sincere. I guess in the end Henley and Frey got what they wanted. Both Schmidt and Walsh have, either willingly or begrudgingly, ceded Henley and Frey 100% compliance and full control over the band. In an interesting turn of events Leadon has reportedly agreed to join the History of the Eagles Tour for summer 2013. Perhaps a little redemption is on the horizon.
An outstanding review or retrospective of The Eagles, from the point of view of the surviving members of the band, it follows their diverse beginnings and their rise to fame and fortune, helped by the assistance of many fine musicians who as sidemen or quondam members, present and past. No holds barred, it documents the disasters and personality conflicts that made The Eagles the force they have become. It is a welcomed addition to this fan's music library. My love for their music has always been clear to all my friends and co-workers, down the years from the 70s to the present. This is a great long documentary to get and to treasure.