Joining the Eagles wasn’t just about musical prowess; it required exceptional vocal talent, something the band became famous for with their harmonious melodies that seemed to capture the essence of California’s golden glow. Glenn Frey, one of the band’s founders, once shared that their vocal magic was intentional, aiming for a harmony that was hard to rival, inspired by the vocal excellence of local bands of their time.
The Eagles’ journey into harmonies wasn’t unique in the 1970s; they were part of a broader movement that saw bands like The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, and The Beach Boys exploring the depths of vocal harmony, enriching rock music with complex layers of voice. These bands weren’t just singing together; they were creating intricate musical tapestries with their voices, introducing counterpoints and harmonies that turned traditional rock vocals into something more profound.
Before the Eagles soared to fame, bands like The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, and Nash had already begun to infuse the American music scene with their rich vocal harmonies, setting the stage for what the Eagles would later bring to the forefront of rock music. Frey, who initially made his mark as a rhythm guitarist, knew early on the power of harmonized vocals, inspired by his experiences and the vibrant California music scene.
Poco, a country-rock band that never quite hit the heights of stardom despite their talent, particularly influenced Frey. He admired their vocal craftsmanship and saw them as a model for what he hoped the Eagles would achieve. Frey’s aspiration wasn’t just to mimic Poco but to build on the vocal harmony tradition that bands like The Byrds and The Beach Boys had established, with Poco serving as a direct inspiration for the Eagles’ sound.
The connection between Poco and the Eagles wasn’t just aspirational; it was tangible. Randy Meisner, a founding member of the Eagles, had played with Poco before joining Frey and Don Henley. His high harmonies became a signature part of the Eagles’ sound, contributing to hits like ‘Witchy Woman’ and ‘Take It To The Limit.’ Later, Timothy B. Schmit, another former Poco member, would join the Eagles, further cementing the vocal legacy Frey admired.
In creating the Eagles, Frey was not looking to simply replicate the sound of his influences; he was driven by a vision to craft songs that resonated with the American spirit, blending rock with country influences to create something uniquely their own. While they drew inspiration from contemporaries, the Eagles’ music, under Frey and Henley’s songwriting, became a defining sound of an era, capturing the heart and soul of America through their harmonious melodies.