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City can take it easy when rock stars return

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 November, 2010, 12:00am
 

For a band that takes almost 30 years to record a new album, seven doesn't seem too long. When the Eagles touch down on March 18 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, it will be the first time since 2004 that the legendary rockers have performed here. For most fans any Eagles event is worth the wait, even if it takes until 'Hell Freezes Over,' as the name of their 1994 world tour put it.

By the time they arrive, the Eagles will be celebrating their 40th anniversary. When they formed in 1971, the burgeoning country-rock scene, that included Neil Young, Linda Ronstadt and the Flying Burrito Brothers, was just lifting off. Their debut, released the following year, produced the top-10 hits Take It Easy, co-written by Jackson Browne, and Witchy Woman. From there the hits came fast and plenty: Peaceful Easy Feeling, Tequila Sunrise, Desperado, The Best of My Love, Lyin' Eyes, One Of These Nights, Take It To The Limit, Hotel California, New Kid In Town, Heartache Tonight and, most recently, 2007's How Long from their first studio album in 28 years, Long Road Out Of Eden. Their influence on mainstream pop has been huge with contemporary stars such as Taylor Swift and Keith Urban direct inheritors of their legacy.

The Eagles have sold more than 120 million albums, earning five No 1 US singles and six Grammy Awards. Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 has exceeded sales of 29 million units and vies with Michael Jackson's Thriller as the best-selling album of all time. Hotel California and Greatest Hits Volume 2 have sold more than 16 and 11 million albums respectively. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

The Eagles sprang from the same southern Californian scene that included two bands - the Beach Boys and the Doors - that seem diametrically opposed. By melding the rich harmonies and sunny pop of the Beach Boys with the jaded hedonism of the Doors, the Eagles created their own sound on songs such as Lyin' Eyes and Hotel California.

The core of the group is the songwriting partnership of Glenn Frey and Don Henley. They fashioned a sound that has become synonymous with the laid-back excess of the mid-1970s. While Henley and Frey would later pursue successful solo careers and address social issues in their songs, such as Henley's The End of the Innocence, the Eagles indulged in hedonistic pleasures along with Fleetwood Mac.

They released Desperado in 1973 then On The Border the next year before the smash hit One Of These Nights appeared in 1975.

It generated three top-10 hits - Lyin' Eyes, One Of These Nights, Take It To The Limit, and won two Grammy Awards for Record of the Year (Lyin' Eyes) and Album of the Year.

One Of These Nights contained a few anomalies including I Wish You Peace, co-written by guitarist Bernie Leadon and then-girlfriend, Patti Davis, Ronald Reagan's daughter. Leadon's Journey of the Sorcerer would later become the theme to Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series.

After a world tour Leadon quit, feeling they had strayed too far from their country roots. He was replaced by Joe Walsh, former lead guitarist with Ohio rockers the James Gang, who counted The Who's Pete Townsend as a fan.

Between albums of new material, the Eagles released Greatest Hits 1971-1975 which went on to become one of the biggest selling albums of all time. In December 1976, they released the album that would define their career; the landmark Hotel California. Shortly before its release Henley told the British magazine ZigZag: 'This is a concept album, but it's not set in the old West, the cowboy thing, you know. It's more urban this time ... It's our bicentennial year, you know, the country is 200 years old, so we figured since we are the Eagles, and the eagle is our national symbol, that we were obliged to make some kind of a little bicentennial statement using California as a microcosm of the whole United States, or the whole world, if you will, and to try to wake people up and say, 'we've been okay so far, for 200 years, but we're gonna have to change if we're gonna continue to be around'.'

In 2007, Henley told Steve Croft from CBS' 60 Minutes, Hotel California was 'about the dark underbelly of the American dream ... and about excess in America, which is something we knew a lot about'.

The first single, New Kid In Town shot to number one, followed a few months later by Hotel California. Don Felder first introduced the iconic track to the band as an instrumental and it got dubbed 'Mexican Reggae' before Henley and Frey added the lyrics and some finishing touches. It has since become a staple at all their shows and has become one of most universally recognisable songs. Rolling Stone Magazine placed it at No 49 in its list of the '500 Greatest Songs Of All Time,' between Jimi Hendrix's All Along The Watchtower (No48) and Smokey Robinson's The Tracks Of My Tears (No50).

Along with the great success came strife. It took the band almost three years to produce their next album, 1979's The Long Run, with original bassist Randy Meisner being replaced by Timothy B. Schmit. Although it included the No1 one hits, Heartache Tonight, and Schmit's I Can't Tell You Why, the band broke up less than a year later in 1980. It took them 14 more years to finally reunite for their 1994 'Hell Freezes Over' tour. The acrimony returned and led to legal wrangling between Felder and the rest of the band when he sued in 2001 after being fired. The case was settled out of court in 2007, just in time for the release of Long Road Out Of Eden.

With their seventh studio album, the Eagles showed that they still have the ability to blend a classic rock sound with lyrical themes that confront contemporary issues, such as the disillusionment of the Bush years.

On tracks How Long and Busy Being Fabulous they conjure up the freewheeling sounds of yesteryear, while reminding a new generation of fans why they mattered in the first place.

Eagles - Live in Hong Kong

Venue Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre Hall 5BC
Show time March 18, 2011, 8pm
Ticketing HK$2,088, HK$1,688, HK$1,288, HK$888, HK$588
Tickets go on sale today at HK Ticketing and all Tom Lee outlets
Booking hotline 3128 8288
Web booking www.hkticketing.com
Inquiries: 2629-6240, www.eaglesband.com, www.lushington.com

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