The one musician who turned down joining the Eagles

the eagles

There was no room for excuses when the Eagles started to come together. After experiencing the road warrior scene in Los Angeles, Glenn Frey and Don Henley set out to create the ultimate California rock group. They crafted songs that were both relatable and catchy. One of the key components of the band’s sound would decline an invitation to join. Each member contributed a distinctive sound.

But even before Frey or Henley arrived in California, they were struggling to make ends meet in different parts of the country. Raised in Detroit, Frey was well-known for performing in local bands during his free time. Eventually, he gathered the courage to go to the West. He met David Crosby for the first time on his first day.

With nowhere to stay, Frey made quick friends with JD Souther, who at the time was seeing the sister of his girlfriend. They both had an aptitude for songwriting, and they quickly decided to form a group. Under the moniker Longbranch/Pennywhistle, the pair performed at a variety of local events before Frey joined forces with vocalist Linda Ronstadt.

Henley, who was becoming well-known with the Texas band Shiloh, was seated behind Ronstadt’s drums. Once they got to know one another, they began to object to the notion of forming a supergroup merely to support Ronstadt. They decided to break up with the band to pursue their careers.

According to the band, Ronstadt was incredibly accommodating. He even suggested that they bring on guitar player Bernie Leadon, who had previously worked with Gram Parsons. Randy Meisner of Poco would complete the lineup, and Souther would have the chance to join the group on guitar but would ultimately decline the offer.

Souther told Life in the Fast Lane, “[I] didn’t think much in terms of my career”.  He indicated that he was more interested in writing songs that would have lasting power than in leading the glamorous life of a rock star. I held Hank Williams and Graham Nash in the same regard as I did The Gershwins and Cole Porter. I wanted my songs to be remembered long after I was gone.

While Souther watched from the sidelines, he would begin working on solo projects with the Eagles. He would write songs that Frey would sometimes help him finish. Souther would go on to co-write some of the most important songs the band recorded. Even he was not a member of the group. He contributed to the completion of songs like “Victim of Love”. He gave the group their last hit. The hit was when they recorded a version of his song “How Long” for Long Road Out of Eden.

Even though Souther was leaving a lot of money on the table, he still believed it was the right choice. He said, “I saw that there was something to this introspective songwriting that appeared to me… If I attempted to write songs in that manner rather than just with the intention of recording, it would simply make my entire world better.



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