‘Take a deep breath': Bernie Leadon tried, and failed, to save the 1970s-era Eagles

Even as the Eagles neared the height of fame, before 1976’s Hotel California, they were already teetering on the edge of a fiery burnout.

“The ironic part,” guitarist Don Felder tells Artie Lange, “is Bernie Leadon used to say: ‘We need to take more time off. Let’s take a couple of months. We’ll go to Hawaii, get some sun, relax, charge your batteries, get some sun on your face — take a deep breath, and then we’ll go back to work.’ And they were, like: ‘No, no, no, we’ve got to strike while the iron is hot.’ We’d just keep working.”

Ultimately, of course, that would become the band’s undoing. Leadon would be replaced by Joe Walsh in 1975, then Randy Meisner by Timothy B. Schmit before 1979’s The Long Run. Not long afterward, the Eagles split up for almost 15 years. A brief reunion featuring all of the late-1970s edition of the group followed, but the Eagles parted with Felder in the late 1990s, as well.

“If we’d listened to Bernie a little more carefully,” Felder argues, “we would have been able to pace ourselves, I think.”

Original members Glenn Frey and Don Henley are joined by Walsh and Schmit these days. Leadon has, more recently, joined the Eagles through a series of concert dates, though Felder remains estranged from the group.

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