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The Eagles Have Landed

After a culturally devoid start to 2011, Shanghai rebounds this month with an outstanding all-star line-up of musical events including the JUE Music & Arts Festival, Usher and numerous other prominent international artists. However, the focal point of the city’s revival is the hotly anticipated 9 March performance of the legendary Eagles at Mercedes-Benz Arena. The American rock band soars into town in support of their latest release The Long Road out of Eden.

When Linda Ronstadt formed a backing band for a tour in the summer of 1971, it is unlikely the four recruited musicians were aware their lives would change forever. After playing only one concert in support of ‘The First Lady of Rock’ – at Disneyland of all places – Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon decided to form their own band and the rest, as they say, is history.

From the opening notes of ‘Take It Easy’, the lead track off the Eagles’ eponymous 1972 debut album, the band immediately established themselves as a force in American rock and roll. For an aching nation still struggling with the upheavals of the 60s, as well as the continuing war in Vietnam, the Eagles’ smooth California country-rock sound was a welcome respite.

“We are just going to go over, play an Eagles concert the way we know how to do it and see what happens.”


Over the next three years, in quick succession the group released the albums Desperado, On the Border and One of These Nights, gradually moving away from their country beginnings toward a more edgy rock alongside ballads like ‘Best of My Love’. By this time, most of the group’s leadership and song writing responsibilities had coalesced around Frey and Henley, and Bernie Leadon bowed out of the band shortly after their fourth release. His replacement Joe Walsh solidified their harder rocking sound.

“A lot of the earlier stuff I would say is country rock,” Walsh told TALK recently. “I think eventually we got away from that – I brought in rock and roll when I joined the band – so the country rock got a little tougher.”

With Walsh’s influence instantly apparent, the Eagles released their fifth studio album, Hotel California, in late 1976. The record’s title track would go on to be considered by many as one of the greatest rock and roll songs of all time and is arguably the most popular English-language song in China. For Walsh, the tune remains close to his heart. “The song is still a challenge to play live; you really have to pay attention. Some songs are pretty much automatic, but ‘Hotel California’, to do it right, is still a challenge,” he says. “Because I am proud of my guitar work and because it is still really a challenge to play live, I think that it is probably my favourite song.”


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