Entertainment & Arts

Randy Meisner: Eagles founding member dies aged 77

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The bassist sang lead vocals on Take It To the Limit and backing vocals on Hotel California.

Randy Meisner, the US bassist and singer who co-founded the rock band Eagles has died at the age of 77.

Meisner helped form the group in 1971, taking lead vocals on the track Take It To The Limit, which he also co-wrote.

He contributed lush high harmonies to the California group’s mega-hit, Hotel California and The Best of My Love.

His death was confirmed on Thursday on Eagles’ official website, who described him as “integral” and “instrumental” in their early success.

Meisner died of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Eagles – one of the most successful bands in history – have sold more than 150 million albums around the world and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

Meisner’s melodic basslines and falsetto vocals contributed to the band’s first five albums – Eagles, Desperado, On The Border, One of These Nights and Hotel California.

“His vocal range was astonishing, as is evident on his signature ballad, Take It to the Limit,” they said in a statement.

Randy Bachman of fellow rock group, the Bachman-Turner Overdrive, paid tribute to Meisner, saying: “Sorry to hear Eagles musician Randy Meisner has left us.

“He was an incredible singer, songwriter and bassist. Peace to his friends and family.”

Another bassist, Jim Messina, who played with Buffalo Springfield, added: “I’m just so grateful of the times that we spent together in the 60s and once again in the late 80s.

“Most of all I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to see him for the last time.”

Born to a farming family in Nebraska in 1946, Meisner moved to California and played with the likes of Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band, and Poco, before co-founding the Eagles in 1971 alongside Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon.

They went on to define the country-tinged, laid-back West Coast pop-rock sound that ruled the US airwaves in the early 1970s, before later moving in a hard rock direction.

But he was never that comfortable with the fame his band’s success brought. “I was always kind of shy,” he said in a 2013 interview with Rolling Stone, adding he preferred to be “out of the spotlight”.

Once dubbed “the sweetest man in the music business” by another former bandmate Don Felder, bass player Meisner stepped out of the shadows on the mournful, lovelorn waltz-time ballad Take It to the Limit – a song later covered by the likes of Etta James and Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

Following a spat about him refusing to sing the song live during an extended encore at a concert in Knoxville, a flu-laden Meisner left the Eagles after six years – being replaced by Timothy B Schmit – saying he was exhausted. “That was the end.”

He was excluded from their reunion tour in 1994 but did appear once again beside the band in 1998 for their New York City induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

He turned down an offer to re-join properly for a world tour in 2013, due to ill health. And his later life was clouded with mental health, addiction and domestic issues.

As a solo artist, Meisner had hits with songs like Hearts on Fire and Deep Inside My Heart and also played on records by other performers including James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg and another Eagles star, Joe Walsh.

He never quite eclipsed his achievements with the Eagles – the band that released two of the most popular albums of all-time during his tenure, Hotel California and Their Greatest Hits – but then few have.

“The purpose of the whole Eagles thing to me was that combination and the chemistry that made all the harmonies just sound perfect,” Meisner once said in an interview.

“The funny thing is after we made those albums I never listened to them and it is only when someone comes over or I am at somebody’s house and it gets played in the background that is when I’ll tell myself, ‘damn, these records are good.'”

Following guitarist Glenn Frey’s death in 2016, Henley said the Eagles would not play again. But they are due to stage a final tour starting this September in New York.

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