Eagles co-founder and bassist/vocalist Randy Meisner died last night (July 26) in Los Angeles due to complications from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD), according to a statement from the band. He was 77.
The Scottsbluff, Neb., native formed the Eagles in 1971 in tandem with Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Bernie Leadon, and was a key contributor to their decade-long run of best-selling albums such as Desperado, On the Border, One of Those Nights, and Hotel California. He co-wrote and sang the 1975 hit single “Take It to the Limit,” and also handled lead vocals on the songs “Certain Kind of Fool,” “Try and Love Again,” “Take the Devil,” and “Is It True?”
Meisner left the band amid long-simmering internal issues in September 1977 and was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit, who remains in the Eagles to this day. He did not participate in any of the group’s post-1994 reunions, but was present for its 1998 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He declined an invitation to appear during the group’s 2013 tour due to ill health.
“Randy was an integral part of the Eagles and instrumental in the early success of the band. His vocal range was astonishing, as is evident on his signature ballad, ‘Take It to the Limit,’” the Eagles said in a statement.
Prior to the Eagles, Meisner helped pioneer the nascent country rock format during a short-lived stint with the band Poco, which also featured former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina. From there, he spent a year in Rick Nelson’s Stone Country Band and played bass both on James Taylor’s classic album Sweet Baby James and Waylon Jennings’ Singer of Sad Songs.
Meisner released several solo albums in the late ’70s and early ’80s, toured with his own band the Silverados, and in 1985 joined the group Black Tie with Bread’s Jimmy Griffin. That act scored a country radio hit with a cover of Buddy Holly’s “Learning the Game,” and was joined by Leadon on a 1986 U.S. tour. Other activity included the Roberts-Meisner band with Firefall’s Rick Roberts and a Poco reunion in the late ’80s.
Meisner retreated from performing in the early 2000s for health reasons, and most recently made the news under tragic circumstances when his wife Lana Rae accidentally shot herself to death amid a domestic argument in 2016.
As previously reported, the Eagles are embarking on what’s said to be their “farewell” tour on Sept. 7 at New York’s Madison Square Garden. Following Frey’s death in 2016, the group is now led by Henley, Schmit, and guitarist Joe Walsh.