Why the Eagles Sputtered to a Stop With ‘The Long Run’
The Eagles practically ruled the radio airwaves and music charts for much of the '70s, but the group came to a somewhat dispirited halt after the release of The Long Run, which dropped on Sept. 24, 1979.
The album was the group's sixth studio album, and their first since the massive, career-changing success of Hotel California in 1976. The difficulties underlying that album had already caused friction with the group's original bassist, Randy Meisner, who departed the Eagles in 1977, as well as their lead guitarist, Don Felder.
When the band members reconvened in Miami in 1977 to begin work on a new album, they began to realize the creative well had started to run dry as the chemistry between the band members fizzled. Though they did not know it yet, they would spend nearly two years recording an album that they would eventually nickname "The Long One," and it would cause them to go their separate ways.
The band members would later admit in the History of the Eagles documentary in 2013 that drugs hampered the creative process, and the result was a disjointed album that still retained significant flashes of the brilliant songwriting, vocal and instrumental ability and studio craftsmanship that had characterized the Eagles' previous efforts.
The Long Run featured standout tracks including the title track, new bassist/singer Timothy B. Schmit's "I Can't Tell You Why," Joe Walsh's "In the City," "Those Shoes" and "Heartache Tonight," which saw Don Henley and Glenn Frey collaborating with JD Souther and Bob Seger.
"Heartache Tonight" gave the Eagles their final No. 1 hit when it was released as the lead single from the album, while "The Long Run" and "I Can't Tell You Why" both reached No. 8.
Some of the other tracks on The Long Run reflected the dark underbelly of the culture at the turn of the decade, including "The Disco Strangler" and "King of Hollywood," while other songs — including "Teenage Jail" and "The Greeks Don't Want No Freaks" — stand in retrospect as unfortunate by-products of the band's drug period.
Released on Sept. 24, 1979, The Long Run was another huge success for the Eagles, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard 200, winning a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal for "Heartache Tonight" and eventually selling 8 million copies. But the damage was done, and the group foundered in the wake of the album's release, with Henley, Frey and Walsh launching solo careers that would achieve varying degrees of success and failure in the 1980s, while the other members went on to other pursuits
A live album culled from past live dates would follow in 1980, but the Eagles would not work together again until their unexpected reunion for the Hell Freezes Over Tour in 1994. That tour followed a brief reunion for the video for Travis Tritt's version of "Take It Easy" in 1994, which served as the catalyst for their decision to reunite as a band.
The Eagles have toured and recorded off and on ever since in various lineups.
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