While one of the most popular and best-selling bands of all time, The Eagles aren't necessarily thought of in the same vein as hard partying bands like The Rolling Stones. The Eagles' smooth vocals and soft rock sound paint images of relaxing ocean sunsets and gentle breezes, not drug addiction and backstage fights. The reality, however, is totally insane.
From their formation in 1971 to their dramatic disbanding in 1980, The Eagles not only dominated the charts with gentle country-rock ballads, they also racked up an impressive amount of crazy tales that rival hard rockers like Led Zeppelin and Guns N' Roses. This list breaks down some of the most insane groupie stories, backstage blowouts, and police run-ins from those peaceful, easy feelers, The Eagles.
According to drummer/vocalist Don Henley, the members of The Eagles, a photographer, and award-winning art director Gary Burden, went out to Joshua Tree National Park and took Peyote for a photoshoot in 1971. While high on the drug, the group saw a lone eagle soaring above the crew, and, as Henley said, they "took it as a sign."
Glenn Fry (guitarist and de facto co-bandleader with Henley) goes into more hilarious detail in the documentary The History of The Eagles. Fry remembers going off from the group to relieve himself. While squatting, pants down, he heard his bandmates yelling "Eagle! Eagle!" As Fry looked up and saw the giant bird, he tripped on his pants and fell down a pile of rocks. He claims that, while being higher than he'd ever been, the Eagle looked down at him, smirked, and said dismissively "Eagles, huh?"
As The Eagles' popularity exploded, so did their partying habits. These mild-mannered mustachioed singers partied so hard and so often they came up with a system. Every night, in a large hotel suit, they had "The Third Encore." A 1979 Rolling Stone article detailed a particular night where attendees including "their entourage, several professional hockey players, Eddie Money, the Little River Band and a lot of locals."
The previously mentioned documentary breaks down how invites worked. Every member of the band and crew would be given a button to hand out to anyone backstage or in attendance who they wanted to bring to the after party. The only rule: "No weirdos." Sure they did tons of drugs and had nightly hotel parties, but they still liked to keep things a little clean cut.
Black Sabbath shared studio space with the Eagles while the classic Hotel California was being recorded. Ozzy might have liked eating bats on stage, but when it came to studio time, the Cali-Country Boys had His Darkness beat. Sabbath bassist Geezer Butler even noted that when the band arrived at the studio after Don and Glenn, they had to scrape cocaine out of the mixing board before Sabbath could start recording.
Butler estimated that "they’d left about a pound of cocaine in the board.”
In 1974, the Eagles took a couple days off from touring and decided to fly to the Bahamas to gamble and relax for two days. Like typical rock stars, they flew into the country holding a lot of drugs; Valium and marijuana to be exact. As they exited the plane, the group was flagged by customs to be searched in private rooms. As Glenn Frey put it, the group suddenly expected to wind up in a Bahaman jail cell. Luckily, their manager, the legednary Irving Azoff stepped in to save the day.
In Eagles folklore, the story goes that no one knows what Azoff said to the agents, but within five minutes they were free to go with all of their drugs intact. According to Azoff though, after a failed bribe, he guilted the young customs agents saying "If you bust him [Glenn Fry] here, he can’t play in the U.K., Australia, Japan. He brings such enjoyment to people and you’re gonna end his career.”