I Was There When…The Eagles Began Their Ascent to Mega-Stardom – Lenox Music Inn 8/22/74 & SPAC 8/30/74

The Eagles’ set-lists from the two shows roughly a week apart during the summer of 1974 didn’t vary terribly much, but the performances did. Moving from the informality of the Lenox Music Inn and then on, in very short order, to the one-of-a-kind shed that remains the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the band seemed to change right before the eyes and ears, metamorphosing from earnestly confident musicians trusting in their craft to a stellar performing unit so fully committed to their original body of work, it was if they were actively beckoning to the super-stardom that was to befall them in very short order.

Based on the increasingly hungry passion the band displayed, a naysayer might read the Eagles’ trust in their work for hubris. On the contrary, it was more a healthy recognition that, as they sang and played the pinpoint harmonies and tightly structured arrangements of songs like “Tequila Sunrise,” which they nailed one after the other with great aplomb. The Eagles not only knew they were good, they knew it was only a matter of time before a (much) larger audience agreed with them.

The bright sun and heat on the grassy hill in the Berkshires was something to endure for both the group and its audience in the late summer, but all involved paced themselves in various ways: curly haired Don Henley toked up just offstage prior to the set while long-haired Glenn Frey spending an inordinate amount of time adjusting his sunglasses on his head during the performance. A random shout from upfront to “Play All Night” evoked an immediate dismissal of that thought via bassist Randy Meisner’s dour expression, but his demurral belied the incisive precision of Bernie Leadon and especially Don Felder’s guitar work: on songs like “Already Gone,” the instrumental sounds soared as high as the practiced vocals on the de rigeur opener of “Take It Easy.”

The exertion so obvious from the stage that afternoon disappeared at somewhat slighter distance in the open air of the summer home of classical music, ballet and jazz in upper New York. In fact, the Eagles made it all look and sound effortless near the site of the famous healing springs of Saratoga, so much so in fact, they were able to radiate their cool throughout this much larger amphitheater and, in practiced anticipation of increasingly bigger audiences in the not too distant future, project their (mostly) charming nonchalance out on to the expansive lawn. In doing so, their sound evoked the free spirit of the summer season and it became especially vivid during the tranquility of “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” as that ballad presaged an ever-so-colorful sundown and a delicious dusk.

Still a good distance from the ‘Number One’ status “Best of My Love” from On the Border would achieve the following spring, the Eagles were teaching themselves how to rise to the occasion with performances such as these, and in doing so, conjured up a momentum that, in retrospect, seems like inevitable steps of destiny as they homed in on a mega-fame that would arrive three years later with Hotel California.



Eagles at Music Inn, Lenox, MA, USA 8-22-1974


Take It Easy

Outlaw Man

Already Gone


Desperado (Reprise)

Peaceful Easy Feeling

Midnight Flyer

Blackberry Blossom


Witchy Woman


Chug All Night

Tequila Sunrise


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40 Responses

  1. I think the band can continue with either Jackson Browne, Bob Seger or J.D. Souther stepping into Frey’s role. Those 3 musicians are all friends of the band and have worked with them.

    1. I disagree. Henley hinted, after this tour wrapped up, that the Eagles may not tour any more. I could see one of those musicians recording with them, but touring? No.

      I’m still kicking myself for not seeing the band on their latest tour. Had two chances to, too. But I’ve seen them twice. The Eagles was on my music bucket list for the longest time, as were the Rolling Stones. I’ve seen the RS now, too.

    2. No, I’d doubt very seriously the band will continue without Glenn in respect to him. One of those guys may play with the remaining band members but I’d doubt they would call themselves Eagles. It just wouldn’t be the same.

      1. Whatever one might think about whether Felder’s book was true or not, one statement in there stands out. It was said (I think by Henley) that the Eagles without Frey would just be Don Henley and his backing band. So I would bet on it being over.

    3. Such a great band. I was lucky enough to see them I think it was 1975. Livingston Taylor and Linda Ronstadt was their opening acts. Concerts were great back then because there were always at least 3 bands, which were normally big names and the ticket prices were usually $8.00 – $10.00 ea. I may have paid $15.00 for Zepplin. I know they were more but its been too long to remember exactly. But yes, The Eagles are certainly one of the best ever. Someone mentioned that they could go on with Jackson Browne or J.D. Souther, which they could but it would never be the same just because of the lack of Glenn Frey’s undeniable vocals among other things. I’m not knocking Jackson Browne or J.D. Souther. I like both of them very much. I just don’t think either could take the place of Frey. I feel like the performance on the Grammys is the last we will see of the “Eagles”. All good things must come to an end and I believe the end has come for the Eagles.

  2. I saw the Eagles (for the third time) in the spring of 1974 in Spokane, at Gonzaga U., in front of a small crowd. They played all of the songs mentioned in this article, plus a 2d encore with the song “Oh Carol”, the Chuck Berry/Rolling Stones rocker. It was one of the best shows I ever saw any band perform, and I was raised in the 60s and 70s in the Bay Area going to Fillmore West and Winterland hundreds of times. I don’t think the Eagles ever played better than they did with this lineup.

      1. Yeah, Steve. I’ve played thousands of shows myself and SEEN at least 500 more shows! When I was a kid I had an older cousin that worked at the old Fairgrounds Arena and later the Myriad Gardens in OKC. He would sneak me in to see…yes…hundreds of shows over the years…not to mention all the shows I saw while working as a bouncer at the Zoo Amphitheater and Frontier City Amphitheater. So you see, really, 500 shows is a VERY conservative estimate!

        Like Collie said….You need to get out more! Hahahaha!

      2. Oh, and one more thing Steve, I worked security for the Cotton Bowl in Dallas in 1980 for the Texas jam. The Eagles were the headliner in the midst of their Farewell Tour. I sat dead center on front of stage 6′ from Glen Frey’s mic stand for the duration! Without a doubt, the best concert I ever saw.

        Yep, I saw six or seven of those “hundreds of shows” on that very day!


  3. I saw The Eagles as the opening act for Yes in Little Rock, Arkansas in the early 70’s. As far as I was concerned, they were by far the better act of the night. I remember the energy they displayed on stage and they quickly became my favorite band and have stayed that way throughout my life.

    1. I remember that concert as 8/1/72. Sat on the floor at Barton Coliseum and recall Frey pleading to the audience to “please buy our album”. Apparently, 130 million albums later, we the audience listened.

  4. I took my wife to see the Great band ” The Eagles ” in the Atlanta auditorium in 1977. It was one of the best concerts I had ever been to! THEY PLAYED ALL OF THEIR hits and we were on the 5th row. The only bad thing was we could not hear for 4 days. I am now 65 yrs old and can still hear every note that was being played. FANTASTIC ! It will be in my favorites memories for ever.

  5. I to grew up during the 60’s and 70’s. I was lucky enough to see the Eagles several times. I remember there was a concert venue that was held in the L. A. Coliseum. There were multiple performers and one was, THE EAGLES. However they didn’t play much. There was a problem with the equipment, and someone in the band said F___K IT! and they walked off. Later on in time I witnessed a great show at THE TACOMA DOME in 94′ (HELL FREEZES OVER) and a later date, at a different location in Washington State. “THE GORGE ” along the Columbia River. They were always on top of their stuff Outstanding show. Great Music.

  6. saw that tour…Virginia Beach, Virginia…Eagles were the warm up group(to Procol Harum sans Robin Trower)…train leaves here this morning, great song!

  7. Okay. Enough is enough.
    The Eagles were a great American band. There’s no disputing it. Nonetheless, from all the attention they’ve received since Glen Frey passed, you’d think the music died and there would be no more — from anybody.
    Let’s not forget they raped and pillaged their fans during their “Hell Freezes Over” tour. Ticket prices were obscene. Was it really the end? No. They’ve been so full of themselves for years and, with the exception of Don Henley, they only reappear when there’s money to be made because they were Eagles.

    1. As much as I enjoy them – after the 1977 show, seeing as u say the rape they put on the fans beginging with HFO Tour and beyond, I never paid those prices and never saw them again. I have enough memories of that HC Tour and all their music I own. I blame a lot if not ALL the turmoil and greed on the Manager who its clear played them off each other for years while he got more rich than even Glen and Don who take lots of heat for earning. Granted the Manager did not only work for the EAGLES. His hands were and are still out there earning.

      1. Yep, he has Fogelberg too, and Christina Aguilera for a while, and now manages Souther. Azoff is a businessman, and whether anyone approves of his methods or not, he is really good at what he does.

    2. My sentiments EXACTLY, Randy. I was a huge Eagles fan starting with the album Desperado but the ticket prices for the Hell Freezes Over tour killed all affection I ever had for “my Eagles, my Eagles”. No mas. You nailed it.

    3. Just simple supply and demand Randy.

      You cannot blame guys for cashing in on all the incredibly hard work they put in in the earlier years honing their craft to such lofty heights! People who have never achieved such a thing are the only people who would attach something like “rape & pillage” in response to someone earning what they are actually worth!

      ….but then again there IS a reason why a person like Bernie Sanders is running….Oh, never mind!

  8. Being from Santa Monica, lucky to see Jackson Browne at the Troubadour Nightclub RIGHT at the beginning of his breakout in 71. My 2nd visit to the Troubadour was to see Linda Ronstadt. Lucky me! That’s when the soon to be Eagles were her back up band! Don, Glen and Bernie. Remember them vividly (cannot recall if Meisner was there or not) But another vivid memory of that excellent show, was Sneaky Pete Klienow played pedal steel. Oh, helluva band! Saw the Eagles in 73 in Des Moines Iowa, after their big hit first album. And saw them another three times, just in the seventies alone. Prime time! Last saw them on Hell Freezes over Tour. Just for the record: It is my minority opinion that Hotel California was their best album: I put my shot glass on Desperado. The panorama of this outlaw album, depth and variety…is without equal for a concept album. Just the song “Out of Control” matches any rocker on Hotel California…including Life in the Fast Lane.

  9. As a drummer in my own band in late 70’s, early 80’s, to get booked, (if blessed to have a local agent) or sometimes just showing up and auditioning, we had to have a great repertoire of Eagles cover tunes, I can assure you, with all 6 in the band, with female keyboard player, who sang like a bird, we still had to nail those pinpoint, absolute perfect harmonies. As a drummer, I would start, stop, start, stop, that is only way to get through practice if you are doing covers of Eagle tunes and everyone wanted 20-30 eagle tunes a night. I must say we were very successful as a local band but we did have the talent and the polish to do so, and they were the very best at what they did for Vocals, and I can tell you of stories where we walked in, equipment in tow (including PA) and stole the show with perfectly played covers of Eagle tunes, no other band such as the Eagles had the “nads” to do it their way. perfect pitch, live or recorded, I witnessed 1st hand just how hard, even great, accomplished singers had to gain the polish of the Eagles, they were Rock, Folk, country, Country rock, no matter the label you put on them, they came through, in the audience when we played( Foxfire at the time) there were fans from 18 to 80years, that too is 1 of the great things Eagles were able to do, you see, doing a song in practice for 2-3hours, is what it took to do correct Harmonies, and the Eagles were the Masters! Anyone wanting to be in a band and go forward, just listen and learn, it’s the only way, and you can never, ever fake an Eagles tune, good luck with that, oh, remember, 1 of the greatest at was a Drummer, Mr. Don Henley, who can hold a stage and audience by himself!

    1. Hey Sandy…you were right on with your experienced ear on the Eagles harmonies, and other points. I read where the band really did have to keep on practicing for hours on end to get those warm sounds and boy did they do that part with excellence !!!

  10. They should retire period. Now all they are is a very expensive Eagle cover band. When they fired Don Felder, who was the George Harrison of the band, they lost all their spark. They haven,t written anything since those four songs on Hell Freezes Over. Their setlists are ancient . Walsh needs Felder as his foil onstage. It was nice to see Leadon back in the band. Check out Felder,s solo album he put out a few years ago. Solid album with great songs something the Eagles haven,t done in years.

  11. They should retire period. Now all they are is a very expensive Eagle cover band. When they fired Don Felder, who was the George Harrison of the band, they lost all their spark. They haven,t written anything since those four songs on Hell Freezes Over. Their setlists are ancient . Walsh needs Felder as his foil onstage. It was nice to see Leadon back in the band. Check out Felder,s solo album he put out a few years ago. Solid album with great songs something the Eagles haven,t done in years.

  12. This wasn’t really the “beginning” of their assent – they headlined several arenas and stadiums on the same tour. In fact, the one gig they played between the two shows you attended was as headliner at Roosevelt Stadium in New Jersey. Not only that, but they’d been touring Desperado for the better part of a year already. Now, seeing them at The Troubador in ’72 = THAT would have amazing!

  13. I am a HUGE Eagles fan, and I will happily admit I’m 60, so I came up about the same years they did, a little bit behind. But I was definitely on the same ride. I also moved from MN to Tucson in 1977 and the memories I have of sitting on, or around our cars out in the desert listening to, especially the Eagles, it just went hand in hand with where I was, and the time, and things happening in the 70’s. Memories I won’t forget… ever!
    And the feelings that come over me every time I hear a certain Eagles song. Gives me goosies!
    I’m sad to say, I never got to see them, and now I believe it’s too late, even if they did continue to tour without Frey. It would never be the Eagles. Jackson Browne was great on the Grammys with them, but it’s my guess, and I’ve watched the History of the Eagles so many times I feel I really was right there. BTW, if you haven’t seen it, you MUST! So it’s my guess, they had a pact that if anything ever happened to Glenn or Don, that would be the end, done, and I’m thinking that was probably talked about at different times early on. But now, at this stage of the game , I don’t see that any of them would even consider going on with out the other. I would actually be disappointed if they did. They are too close, and too respectful of each other. There have been some sad things that have transpired, I still feel very badly for Don Felder. I don’t know everything, but I liked him and he in my mind will always be an original, and very important part of the Eagles. He should have been there, at the Grammys. But there was some deep, bad blood between he and Frey, so I guess it would have also have been inappropriate. I respect whatever they do, only they have lived it. We all just got to reap the benefits. The fact that some of the greats are starting to pass now, is unavoidable , we/they are hitting that age, and in another 10 or 20 years many more will be gone, as will we. Now that this time is here, it’s just all gone by a little too fast. Losing Glenn Frey was really a huge shot of mortality for me. Wow, my head, and heart still feel like I did back in the 70’s, just don’t ask my knees, they passed 100yrs old ten years back. Thank God for music in general, and thank God for the talented Eagles, and Glenn Frey for putting together such a soundtrack for my life. Who would have ever thought. Some people talk about how they should have lived in another time period, I know for certain I was right where I was supposed to be, at the exact right time ! Thank you Eagles. And thank you also to many, many other bands from this time on. But the Eagles… will always have a special tug on my heartstrings!

    1. You have said it as simply and succinctly, though thoughtfully expressed, as it can be said—-you touched on all the things that are the truly worthwhile and merit remembering concerning such an incredible group. Anything else said can add to their legacy no better and I am awed by your wonderfull statement and evaluation of the finest vocal group to ever come out of America

    2. Kate – We are on the same frame of mind. I have watched the History Video so much I can recite it and I have even read Felder’s book 20 times or so. Its all just so interesting to me since I came up with them. I can recall being so excited to see them show up on early netwrok TV on a Friday night concert show with another great, Steely Dan band with the always awesome Skunk Baxter, pre his Doobie Brothers days. Oh what great years to grow up in. Very sad Felder and Glen + Don could not just “get over it” and play on together. Too late now. Maybe we all should take this into consideration in our lives. Once someone is gone / no make ups. Its done. Fly On EAGLE Fly On… Glen can now make great music with Ronnie V / Duanne Allman, Hughie Thomasson, Allen Collins, Toy Caldwell, BB King and a host of long gone greats up above. The list is getting far too long……..

    3. Beautifully written Kate. I, too, will be sixty this year and feel very fortunate to have come of age in the 70’s. Hearing the Eagles will always, in a way, bring me back to that . They are a special group from a special time.

  14. When I heard “Take It Easy” for the first time on the radio in the early 70s, I knew the Eagles were going to be my favorite band. Didn’t get to see them live until “Hell Freezes Over” but have seen them four more times since including the “History of the Eagles” tour. It wouldn’t be the same without Glenn Frey.

  15. I have been blessed to see these guys going back to 1981 saw them 2 times when playing during the Long Run Tour and Sad Cafe was my favorite saw love listing to the sound of the sax playing at the end. but unfortunately they ended their touring right then, until they regrouped again during the Hell Freezes tour where I saw them up till last year 6 shows all together( Mountain view, San Jose, Cow palace, Tacoma Dome 2x, Irvine 2x.) I coulnt never get enough of them but kept getting the shock from rising ticket prices from 35 dollars to the last one 275(Holy Toledo). Yet the memories was so awesome even when Joe Walsh almost stealing the show by getting the crowds all worked up and endless Don playing the drums and singing as well Glen masterful guitar playing and Timothy soul full smooth sing of his sons. it was amazing how they worked so hard to perfect the harmony that blended so well.
    Now if you put Bob Seger in there it would work his voice to course or raspy to harmonize with the gang Jackson Brown heard him sing take it easy solo he was off key and with the band still off key and pitchy. JD. I am not sure never heard him sing so i cant really give a critic at all.(sorry JD). I will be sad that Glen has passed away and the band will cease to forge on. By the way I love Bob Seger on his own he is awesome too.

  16. All on point comments about the brotherhood that was the EAGLES (including Jackson/JD Souther and even Bob Seger) BUT the EAGLES that toured and recorded from 74 thru 80 were the true EAGLES. JD Souther who had open invitation in 74 has stated he went to rehersal as an EAGLE just after the originals started and he felt and told them “yall do not need me!” I am
    sure Jackson or JD could have easily walked in as a full member in the start. They both felt they either were not needed or wanted to do their thing. Its amazing to try to imagine those two in that band from the start. It would have been damned near a country/rock/orchestra! Too much talent in one place. I am lifelong fan. The one time I saw them satisfied my need. The Hotel California tour. Plus the added bonus I got was when the opned with HC song and I immediately spotted the first guy whose records I ever bought after the Byrds, Joe Walsh! I was blown away at the thought of Joe in my band! What a bonus. I never needed to see them again. Their 8 tracks / cassettes and CDs have been in my house , cars & boats since. Rest in Peace EAGLES. No need to fly anymore. I simply can not imagine the band members even wanting to perform without Glen Frey who I realize was a handful / like Henley but I relaized something one day, people always mention how much fun and joy it was to be around Glen. No one says that about any of the others. He made that much impression on them. Not trying to take away from the others but think about it. People went out of their way to mention the fun Glen was even though he was a rough bossman. Frey & Henley started the band, its that simple. Fights, greed , money and egos, thats all water under the bridge.

  17. Also grew up in the 60’s/70’s, and went to a good many shows then, but also a lot of shows in the late 80’s/early 90’s. Bands from the latter era…Husker Du, Replacements, the Minutemen, Pavement, put the 60’s/70’s bands to shame.

  18. They made some good records and worked very hard at being as good as they could be but, grossly overrated.A radio friendly bunch of songs sung and played by cute guys. Areal formula for success but they sure weren’t the Beatles
    I saw them around ’75 when Take It Easy was going up the charts at UC Santa Barbara. Pretty much home turf for these laid back So Cal denim boys. They were 2nd bill to the J Geils Band. After they’d finished with their Peaceful Easy Feeling schtick, those bad boys from Boston took the stage with their urban longhair greasers in black leather look and ripped those sunshine boys a new one! It’s nights like those that probably got Glen Frey thinking, ‘we gotta rock more and get away from this Country bag. Enter Don Felder, then switch out Bernie Leadon and bingo!
    Still, you wouldn’t want to follow J Geils onto any stage

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