May 1, 1972: Eagles Debut With ‘Take It Easy’

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You won’t find Eagles’ “Take it Easy” on the list of 1972’s biggest singles. But it’s surely one of the handful of songs most closely associated with one of the most successful bands of all time. The song marked the group’s debut when it was released on May 1 of that year by the “quartet of rock and roll musicians, singers and composers,” as music industry trade magazine, Record World, wrote in its May 13, 1972 issue.

The song, co-written by Jackson Browne and the band’s Glenn Frey, entered the chart a few weeks’ later, at #84. Eagles’ self-titled debut album arrived on June 1. On July 22, “Take It Easy,” with lead vocal by Frey, peaked on the Hot 100 at #12 behind such songs as Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me,” Wayne Newton’s “Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast,” and Elton John’s “Rocket Man.”

Record World introduced the members in that same May 13 issue. “Eagles are comprised of Don Henley, formerly of Shiloh on drums; ex-Flying Burrito Brother Bernie Leadon on lead, rhythm and steel guitar; ex-Poco Randy Meisner on bass; and Frey on lead and rhythm, who formerly played guitar behind Bo Diddley and was half of Longbranch Pennywhistle. All four write and sing, making the group a completely self-contained unit.”

The album had two follow-up singles: “Witchy Woman” (#9) and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” (#22).

Jackson Browne performing “Take It Easy,” at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater, Fla., Jan. 19, 2016

On Jan. 19, 2016, Browne gave a beautiful, heartfelt performance of “Take It Easy” in tribute to Frey who had died the day before. Brownewho had been silent about his “Take It Easy” collaborator on social media, said this at his performance in Clearwater, Fla., as quoted by the Tampa Bay Times:

“This is a sad, sad, sad day. I’ve been doing this song every night for a while here. I didn’t use to sing it because it was such a famous song, I figured, you know, if people heard me start singing this song they’d have, they’d come away thinking: ‘Uh, yeah, and then he sang a Eagles cover.’

“I wrote this song with Glenn Frey,” Browne continued, pausing for the crowd’s applause. “It is a song that I started, and I didn’t know how to finish it. But I do know if I had finished it by myself, it wouldn’t be the song that is it; it wouldn’t be the song that we all love, you know?”

Watch a video of the performance, which though out-of-focus for the first minute, is then crystal clear

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As has been recounted, Browne was writing the song for his debut album but was having difficulty finishing it. As Browne said in a radio interview, his friend Frey “kept after me to finish it, and finally offered to finish it himself. And after a couple of times when I declined to have him finish my song, I said, ‘all right.’ I finally thought, ‘This is ridiculous. Go ahead and finish it. Do it.’ And he finished it in spectacular fashion. And, what’s more, arranged it in a way that was far superior to what I had written.”

You can read various tributes from those who knew Frey best here. (Here’s Best Classic Bands original news story of his death.)

Best Classic Bands Staff

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  1. Rollbert
    #1 Rollbert 2 May, 2023, 08:37

    Saw this version of the Eagles Sept 1972 at the little heralded Felt Forum in NYC. The Forum was mostly used for prize fights rather than R&R but it did have over 70 concerts when in use. This Eagles concert also had a set by JD Souther, Jackson Browne & David Lindley, then they all appeared on the stage for a few more tunes. One was Take it Easy for the second time, a grand version that all the players joined it.

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  2. Da Mick
    #2 Da Mick 2 May, 2023, 12:47

    While I initially enjoyed the Eagles music up through “Hotel California,” their saga became so publicly soiled and ugly that I eventually was not able to get beyond all of it to enjoy their music anymore. All bands eventually have issues if they’re together long enough, but I felt like the way several of their members were treated indicated a desire to consolidate power in the band, which especially meant m money at a time when album sales were, and the hoopla that surrounded them were at its peak and had a significant influence on everything bands did in those days. To me, their actions didn’t really coincide with the image and vibe of what their music supposedly portrayed. The documentary about them seemed to support this, and in the years since the band’s (Henley’s) continuing insistence on excluding the members that helped to make them what they are in any kind of honors or acknowledgements just makes me like the group, as it exists even less. While most their music is tainted for me now, as much by radio overplay as by their actions, I do still feel a soft spot for the original lineup, and what their music from that time brought to us. I loved the addition of Don Felder, and the more rock edge that his playing brought to the band, but it just seemed like it wasn’t too long before things all went downhill from there, whether it be because of inner strife or personal ambitions of Henley and Frey. Personally, I hated their solo stuff, and where that was taking things with the Eagles, both musically and personally.

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