Twenty-nine years ago today (May 27, 1994), the Eagles reunited for the first time in 14 years to kick off their Hell Freezes Over Tour at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre in Irvine, Calif. The iconic band’s ’94 reunion came, at least partly, thanks to a country star.
The Eagles split up in 1980, following the release of their Eagles Live album. The band’s members, including Glenn Frey, Don Felder and Don Henley, had been at odds with each other since their 1979 album The Long Run, but they were contractually obligated to their record company, Elektra Records, to record one final live album before they could disband. Unfortunately, by that time, Frey and Henley were unable to even be in the same room together, so they recorded their vocals in different studios, located in different states even.
But while the “Hotel California” singers were ready to walk away from their record-breaking career, their famous fans weren’t as willing to let them go. In 1993, several country artists — including Trisha Yearwood, Diamond Rio, Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker and Travis Tritt — recorded an Eagles tribute album, Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles; the record, which features some of the band’s biggest hits, such as “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “I Can’t Tell You Why,” “Heartache Tonight” and “Best of My Love,” soared to the top of the charts and sold more than 3 million units. For the project, Tritt covered the Eagles’ debut single, “Take It Easy,” and asked the band to appear in his video for the tune; they agreed, and it was the first time that the group had been together in 13 years.
That music video shoot served as the impetus for the Eagles to consider a reunion. Only two months later, Frey and Henley had lunch with their management team and agreed to formally reunite. They performed live for the first time in April, at Warner Bros. Studios in Burbank, Calif., where they shot The Eagles: Hell Freezes Over — given its name because Henley was known for saying after their split that the band would get back together “when hell freezes over” — for an MTV special.
After beginning their Hell Freezes Over Tour, the Eagles spent most of the next two years on the trek, performing some of their most beloved tunes, including “Tequila Sunrise” and “Lyin’ Eyes.” Their live Hell Freezes Over album was released on Nov. 8, 1994, and includes the No. 1 hit “Love Will Keep Us Alive.”
Following Hell Freezes Over, the Eagles remained a touring and recording band and released several more albums, including 2003’s The Very Best Of, which sold more than 5 million units in the United States, and a double studio album, Long Road Out of Eden, in 2007. Felder spent seven more years with the group before he was fired from the band in 2001.
Sadly, on Jan. 18, 2016, Frey died due to to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. Henley said that his friend and bandmate’s death effectively ended the Eagles’ career, but in May of 2017, Henley announced that Frey’s son Deacon would perform live with the band in the future. Deacon Frey recently announced his departure from touring with the group, but Vince Gill continues to play as part of the band during their live shows.
This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.
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