By Dan Herbeck
For the Eagles, it all started with Don Henley and Glenn Frey, two eager young musicians who traveled to Los Angeles in the 1960s with the crazy idea of becoming rock stars.
Getting gigs with various bands and hanging out at Hollywood’s famous Troubadour nightclub, the two started playing and writing songs together. They got their big break in 1970, when a budding new star, Linda Ronstadt, recruited them for her touring backup band.
A year later, Henley and Frey left Ronstadt to start the Eagles, and they never looked back.
But nowadays, they are looking back at the past, and savoring it. Their “History of the Eagles” tour, which lands at 8 p.m. Saturday at First Niagara Center, is billed as a chronological look at the country-rock band’s career. The Eagles are playing a set list of hits spanning their whole history, and also sprinkling in a few numbers they have never performed live before.
For a band that has only put out seven albums of original material, the Eagles have had an amazing impact on the American music scene. They’ve sold well over 120 million recordings, and their brilliant 1976 album “Hotel California” was chosen by Rolling Stone magazine as the 37th best rock album ever (some fans would rank it much higher than that).
Drugs and egos caused an ugly band breakup in 1980, but they reconvened in 1994, with Frey declaring, “We really didn’t break up, we just took a 14-year vacation.” Their fans were thrilled to welcome them back, and they’ve had several successful tours since. They have won six Grammy Awards and were selected for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
The current tour began in July 2013, making it one of the band’s longest runs in decades. Singer-guitarist Bernie Leadon, an original band member who left in the 1970s, is back in the fold. He performs with Frey, Henley, guitar slinger Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit, owner of one of the prettiest voices ever to grace any rock band.
With the band’s trademark harmonies and Walsh’s guitar licks leading the way, the tour has been a big success. A year ago, the Billboard entertainment magazine reported that the tour had already attracted 1.1 million people and grossed $145 million. And that was a year ago. The Buffalo show is sold-out.
“The Eagles are one of the elite touring bands of all time,” the magazine reported.