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Rob Laing

Eagles founder and bassist Randy Meisner, dies aged 77

Randy Meisner onstage with the Eagles in 1976

Randy Meisner has passed away at the age of 77. The Eagles founder member, bassist and guitarist died on 26 July in Los Angeles due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a statement shared on the band's website.

Meisner formed the Eagles alongside Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon and Don Henley in 1971, contributing bass and vocals to much of their greatest work – including their hit Take It To The Limit, which he co-wrote and sang lead vocals on.

“Randy was an integral part of the Eagles and instrumental in the early success of the band," the band said in their statement announcing his passing. "His vocal range was astonishing, as is evident on his signature ballad, Take It to the Limit.”

Back in 1974 the late Glenn Frey reflected on the band's dynamics at the time, and Leadon's crucial place in it.  

“I love to say this,” Frey nodded, cracking a smile. “Bernie and Felder are proud guitar players and to me, and I don’t mean to make their work comparative, but respectively, they’re carrying on the work of Clarence White and Duane Allman. Don Henley is like a rock, besides the fact that he’s the best singer I’ve ever worked with. Randy is the perfect ribbon for the package. He adds all the top and all the bottom, singing like a lark and giving that growly, Nebraska, R&B-oriented bass feel to the country stuff.”

However, the humble Meisner left The Eagles under a cloud in 1977 citing "exhaustion" following the band's tour that year in the midst of the band's huge success of 1976's Hotel California and Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975), with the latter still the best-selling album in the United States with sales of 38 million copies. 

He was replaced by the same musician who had taken over from him in his -re-Eagles band Poco; Timothy B. Schmit. Fellow founder member Bernie Leadon had already departed in 1975, leaving only Frey and Henley from the original four-piece.

Looking back on his departure from the band, the humble and usually restrained Meisner revealed to the Arizona Republic that his discontent with The Eagles was a result of their success and the way money and the trappings of wealth had become a force in the band.

"I don't need those things, I'm very happy with very little," Meisner reflected.  "In the beginning, we were having fun… toward the end, nobody cared about each other, it was every man for himself."

Henley later observed, "Randy was extremely uncomfortable with so-called superstardom." 

He released his self-titled solo debut in 1978 with One More Song following in 1980, touring with his band Randy Meisner & the Silverados through the 1980s. In 1989 and 1990 he reunited with Poco for their Legacy album and tour, singing the lead vocal on the Richard Marx-written Nothin' To Hide.

Meisner aired his disappointment from being excluded from the band's Hell Freeezes Over reunion tour in the '90s. "You'd think that you would be mentioned if you helped with six of the albums, but they act as though I never even played with them," he told the San Jose Mercury News in 1994. 

Nevertheless, he did join all seven past and present members of the band at the Eagles' induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1998, performing Take It Easy and Hotel California. He would go on to perform as part of the World Class Rockers touring group in the 2000s before health issues forced him to cut back on his touring schedule. His last reported concert performance was in Naples, Florida in 2008. 

These health issues ruled him out of accepting an invitation from his former band to join the History Of The Eagles tour in 2013, but he watched them from the crowd at their Inglewood, California date. In 2020 he joined his old Eagles bandmate Joe Walsh on his Old Fashioned Radio Show. Walsh remarked how nobody since Meisner has been able to sing Take It To The Limit in the original key. "That one is still a joy to play," Walsh told him. "You own that."

Randy Meisner is survived by his three children. 

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