Randy Meisner, Founding Eagles Bassist and “Take It to the Limit” Singer, Dead at 77

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The post Randy Meisner, Founding Eagles Bassist and “Take It to the Limit” Singer, Dead at 77 appeared first on Consequence.

Randy Meisner, the founding bassist for The Eagles and the vocalist on their hit song “Take It to the Limit,” is dead at 77 years old.

Confirmation of Meisner’s passing came on Thursday in the form of a post made to the blog on The Eagles’ website. According to the statement, Meisner died on the evening of Wednesday, July 26th, due to complications from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary disease (COPD).

“Randy was an integral part of The Eagles and instrumental in the early success of the band,” the statement read. “His vocal range was astonishing, as is evident on his signature ballad, ‘Take It to the Limit.’”

Born Randall Herman Meisner in Scottsbluff, Nebraska on March 8th, 1946, Meisner began playing guitar after he saw Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan Show in the late ‘50s. By the time he was in high school, he had picked up the bass guitar and was developing his chops by listening to Motown records. From 1961 to 1965, he played in a band called The Dynamics, who were signed to the Amarillo, Texas, based record label, Sully Records.

Then in 1966, Meisner moved to California, where he joined a band called The Poor along with Allen Kemp and Pat Shanahan, who would both go on to be members of the New Riders of the Purple Sage. In 1967 they landed a spot opening for The Jimi Hendrix Experience during a two week residency at Salvation Club in New York City, but by 1968, the band had broken up.

Later that year, Meisner auditioned for Poco, a band featuring Richie Furay and Jim Messina from the recently-disbanded Buffalo Springfield. He was accepted and recorded bass and backing vocals for the band’s first album, but then departed from the group during the post-production process. His image was removed from the album sleeve and his lead vocals were replaced, though his bass and backing vocals remained.

Meisner supported himself as a session player, performing in Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band and appearing on tracks for artists like James Taylor and Waylon Jennings. Then, in 1971, he accepted a gig playing bass for a then-rising Linda Ronstadt, joining her backing band along with Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Bernie Leadon.

A few months later, the four musicians in Ronstadt’s backing band struck off on their own, forming The Eagles. They signed a deal with David Geffen’s Asylum Records, and in June 1972, their self-titled debut album came out. Featuring tracks like “Take It Easy,” “Witchy Woman,” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” the record was a minor hit in the early ‘70s, peaking at No. 22 on the Billboard 200. Nowadays, it’s considered one of the greatest albums in rock ‘n’ roll history, and has been certified Platinum.

The Eagles proceeded to release a string of now-iconic albums, including 1973’s Desperado and 1974’s On the Border. In 1975, the band unveiled their fourth studio album, One of These Nights, which featured “Take It to the Limit,” a single Meisner co-wrote with Frey and Henley. With his impassioned vocal performance and famous falsetto, the tune was a hit, reaching No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming the band’s first song to sell over a million copies.

Speaking in the 2013 documentary, History of The Eagles, Meisner said of writing the song: “The line ‘take it to the limit’ was to keep trying before you reach a point in your life where you feel you’ve done everything and seen everything, sort of feeling, you know, part of getting old. And just to take it to the limit one more time, like every day just keep, you know, punching away at it… That was the line, and from there the song took a different course.”

In live shows, The Eagles often played “Take It to the Limit” as an encore, much to fans’ delight. This spurred the famous quote from Henley: “They went crazy when Randy hit those high notes.” The phenomenon gained such a legacy that, in 2015, comedians Bill Hader and Fred Armisen spoofed it, including a storyline about high-pitched vocals in their Documentary Now! episode based on History of the Eagles.

Meisner stayed with The Eagles through the recording of their seminal album, Hotel California, in 1976, but by the time the band embarked on its 11-month support tour, tensions were running high. He frequently argued with other band members, struggled with his marriage, and, according to guitarist Don Felder, he wanted to spend more time with his family. In September 1977, Meisner formally quit the band. He was replaced by Timothy B. Schmit, who, ironically, also replaced him in Poco.

After leaving the band, Meisner had a brief solo career, releasing three albums between 1978 and 1982. He continued to have rocky relationships with his former-bandmates in The Eagles, expressing disappointment in being excluded from their 1994 reunion tour, “Hell Freezes Over.” But in 1998, when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, he performed with them. In 2013, he was invited to join the band on their “History of The Eagles” tour, but declined due to poor health.

In his last few years, Meisner kept a relatively low profile. In 2016, his wife, Lana Rae Meisner, was tragically killed after she was struck by a firearm that accidentally discharged in the couple’s home. In 2018, he was in attendance for the recording of The Eagles’ 2020 live album, Live from the Forum MMXVIII. In 2020, during the pandemic, he made a few remote appearances on livestream shows done by his former Poco bandmate, Richie Furay, which would be his final performances.

According to the statement made to The Eagles’ website, funeral arrangements for Meisner are pending.

As for the current lineup of The Eagles, they’re set to embark on their farewell tour, “The Long Goodbye,” this September. Check out the full list of dates, and grab your tickets here.

Randy Meisner, Founding Eagles Bassist and “Take It to the Limit” Singer, Dead at 77
Jo Vito

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