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For a while, at the dawn of the 1970s, Randy Meisner looked to be one of California rock's also-rans -- a prodigious talent on vocals and bass, he moved up through the ranks of '60s bands and was poised for a big break as a member of Poco, only to exit that band on the eve of the completion of their debut album. And then he got a second bite of the apple as a member of the Eagles, only to quit in the wake of their biggest album, Hotel California. Born in Scottsbluff, NE, in 1946, Meisner co-founded a band called the Dynamics (later the Drivin' Dynamics) in 1961, in which he served as lead singer and bassist. By late 1962, they'd made their first record, produced and released themselves, which included a rendition of Sam Cooke's "You Send Me," sung by Meisner.
In 1966, following three years in which the Dynamics saw their audiences and fandom grow steadily from Nebraska to Oklahoma and Texas, Meisner had left the group to join another Midwestern band called the Soul Survivors, who later moved to Los Angeles and changed their name to the Poor -- their other members included Allen Kemp and Patrick Shanahan. They were a serious enough outfit to attract the attention of the Warner Bros. subsidiary Loma Records and also of the Decca label, both of which released several folk-rock-influenced sides by the Poor without success.
By 1968, Meisner had begun moving away from folk-influenced rock and into a more country-oriented vein, following a transition that was sweeping across California. He joined a band that was initially called Pogo, later changed to Poco, organized by Richie Furay and Jim Messina out of the collapse their earlier band, the Buffalo Springfield. Poco looked to be one of the hottest new bands heard in Los Angeles in years, doing killer live performances, and were part of the corporate game of contractual chess orchestrated by David Geffen to get Crosby, Stills & Nash onto Atlantic -- they were that hot, and Meisner looked to be in on the ground floor of a major enterprise, with the chance to be the next Chris Hillman. But friction developed between him and Messina and Furay, and he ended up quitting before the original group was properly captured on tape. Poco made its debut as a quartet, with Meisner succeeded by Timothy B. Schmit.
Meisner moved to Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band, where his former Poor bandmates Kemp and Shanahan had ended up, and he participated in the rebirth of the 1950s rock & roll legend's career in country-rock. He also played lots of sessions with other artists, and during this period began playing with Linda Ronstadt's backing band in the studio and on-stage. This proved to be Meisner's second chance, as that band -- which included Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Bernie Leadon -- became the Eagles and left Ronstadt's orbit in 1972. They went on to become twice over one of the most successful bands of the 1970s, racking up major sales across their first three years (with Don Felder adding another guitar), and then, with Leadon's departure and his replacement by Joe Walsh, ascending to even greater heights, including a greatest-hits album that remains one of the biggest-selling records of all time.
Meisner's high harmony singing and bass (along with some guitar) were at the core of their sound, and his songwriting figured on all of their albums, starting with the haunting, impassioned "Take the Devil" and the soaring, high-energy rocker "Tryin'." Although Frey, Henley, and Leadon had the biggest claim on their hits for the first three years, Meisner's songs were widely heard as the sales of the band's LPs rose into the hundreds of thousands and then the millions, and he got his own claim on a hit with "Take It to the Limit" in 1975. Over the next two years, he became increasingly disenchanted with the group, however, and in 1977, following another tour, Meisner took his leave of the Eagles (he was replaced on The Long Run album by the man who had succeeded him in Poco, Tim Schmit).
He returned to Nebraska for a rest and then resumed his music career with a very good self-titled solo album. "Bad Man," off of that LP, was also used on the soundtrack of the movie FM (1978), which also included an appearance by his one-time employer Linda Ronstadt. Meisner enjoyed hit singles with "Hearts on Fire" and "Deep Inside My Heart," and has continued to work solo, as well as playing as a member of the country-rock outfit Black Tie, who had a hit with their version of Buddy Holly's "Learning the Game." More recently, he has played with the World Classic Rockers, a generic '70s-oriented outfit similar to what Ringo Starr has done with his All-Starr Band. In addition to his music with the Eagles, he has played on records by Joe Walsh, Dan Fogelberg, Richie Furay, Richard Marx, Bob Welch, and James Taylor, among numerous others.
In 1989, he also let the other shoe drop on his career by reuniting with Poco and recording the album Legacy, which finally revealed the range and beauty of that original lineup in all of its glory, although the reunion also opened up numerous older tensions that prevented it from having any semblance of permanency. He didn't participate in the Eagles' "Hell Freezes Over" tour, but did reunite with his former bandmates -- alongside Bernie Leadon -- for a performance on the occasion of the group's 1999 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Meisner will probably always be best known for his work with the Eagles, but his solo material has shown a solid commercial edge of its own, and in 2002 and 2003, his two self-titled albums, from 1978 on Asylum and 1982 on Epic, respectively, were reissued on CD by Wounded Bird Records. Both albums were later packaged together and re-released (again) by the Arcadia label in 2007.
Randy Herman Meisner (born March 8, 1946 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, U.S.) is an American musician and singer-songwriter, best known as a founding member of Poco and the Eagles. Throughout his professional musical career Meisner's main role has been as a bassist and backing high-harmony vocalist as both a group member and session musician. He is best known for the Eagles hit song "Take It to the Limit", which he wrote and sang.
Meisner was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, the second child and only son of sharecroppers Herman (1911-1985) and Emilie Meisner (1911-2010). He is of Russian and German descent. In May 1963, at 17-years-old Meisner married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer Barton, and the young couple had a son, Dana Scott Meisner in November 1963. The couple had two more children, twins Heather Leigh and Eric Shane Meisner, both born in May 1970, before divorcing in 1981.Felder, Holden. Pg. 80. ISBN 978-0-470-28906-8 Eliot. Pg. 28. ISBN 978-0-306-81398-6 Felder, Holden. Pg. 110. Felder, Holden. Pg. 80.
ContentsCareer1.1 Early career (1961-1968)1.2 Poco (1968-1970)1.3 Eagles (1971-1977)1.4 Post-Eagles (1978-onwards)
Early career (1961-1968)
Meisner's first public playing experience was with a local band named The Dynamics (later The Drivin' Dynamics) in 1961. By 1965, he had moved to California with a band named The Soul Survivors, later to be renamed The Poor (because, as Don Felder later said, "that is what they became").
In 1968, after auditioning alongside the likes of Duane Allman and Timothy B. Schmit, Meisner joined Poco (originally named Pogo) with former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina. Meisner appeared on Poco's first album, Pickin' Up the Pieces, but was asked to leave the band shortly before the record was released. Meisner's exit was a result of his anger from being excluded (at Furay's insistence) from participation in the final mix playback sessions for the record, as only Messina and Furay were to complete the production. His image was removed from the painting on the album's cover, and replaced with the dog seen at the far left. His bass parts and backing vocals were left in the final mix, but his lead vocals were removed, and new versions were sung by George Grantham.
In 1969, Meisner joined Ricky Nelson's Stone Canyon Band, and persuaded Nelson and producer John Boylan to hire his former band mates from The Poor, Allen Kemp (guitar) and Pat Shanahan (drums); pedal steel guitarist Tom Brumley completed the group. Meisner appears on both In Concert at the Troubadour, 1969 and Rudy The Fifth. Although he did not perform on Nelson's Garden Party, he did co-author one of the album's tracks. Meisner continued to support himself as a session performer, playing bass on James Taylor's Sweet Baby James album, among others.
Meisner then returned to Nebraska to be with his family, working at the local John Deere tractor plant. With Ricky Nelson's encouragement, he returned to Los Angeles to resume his career. By early 1971, he would become active in Linda Ronstadt's repertoire of backing musicians, which included Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon, who were later founding member of the Eagles.
In September 1971, Meisner, along with Henley, Frey and Leadon, formed the Eagles, signing with David Geffen's new label, Asylum Records, and they released their eponymous debut album in 1972. While he usually manned the bass and handled backing vocals for the Eagles, he also played guitar on Desperado, On the Border, and Hotel California. During his six years with the band, he wrote and/or co-wrote songs on each of the group's first five albums—most notably "Take It to the Limit" on One of These Nights—and was featured as lead vocalist on several other songs. He also wrote the hit single "Certain Kind of Fool" with Frey and Henley.
According to band colleague Don Felder, Meisner's time in the band was weighed down by his desire to be with his family, as well as the constant bickering between the members, which was still unknown to the public at the time. During the 1976-77 tour in support of Hotel California, Meisner was plagued by ill health and exhaustion, as the band toured constantly for over eleven months. By the time the tour reached Knoxville in July, Meisner was suffering from painful stomach ulcers and the flu, and the illness made it hard for him to perform, in particular the high notes he had become famous for singing. He had been arguing with fellow member Glenn Frey about his signature song, "Take It To the Limit", during the tour, as Meisner was struggling to hit the crucial high notes in the song due to his ailments. During the following show, Meisner decided to skip the song due to his flu, but when Frey aggressively demanded that he sing it as an encore the two got into a physical confrontation backstage, and Meisner angrily departed. Despite pleas from Felder and Walsh, Meisner decided to leave the group after the final date of the tour and returned to Nebraska to be with his family. His last performance was in East Troy, Wisconsin on September 3, 1977. The band replaced Meisner with the same musician who had succeeded him in Poco, Timothy B. Schmit, after agreeing that Schmit was the only candidate.
Meisner formally quit the band in September 1977, citing "exhaustion". On his abrupt resignation from the band, Meisner said, "All that stuff and all the arguing amongst the Eagles is over now. Well at least for me."
Following his departure from the Eagles, Meisner went on to release solo albums in 1978 Randy Meisner and 1980 (One More Song). He briefly toured with his band, Randy Meisner & the Silverados, and in 1982 released an album on CBS (Randy Meisner), recorded with members of Heart. He also resumed his session-playing, supporting James Taylor, Joe Walsh, Dan Fogelberg, Bob Welch, Richie Furay, Richard Marx, Peter Lewis, Danny O'Keefe, Mac Gayden & Electric Range, as well as being part of the one-hit band Black Tie (a cover of Buddy Holly's "Learning the Game") - featuring Meisner alongside Jimmy Griffin (of Bread) and Billy Swan. When Griffin departed and was replaced by Charlie Rich, Jr., the band was renamed "Meisner, Swan & Rich."
He also briefly formed a band and toured with former Firefall singer/songwriter Rick Roberts, called the Roberts-Meisner Band (Roberts had previously been a Burrito Brother with Bernie Leadon, notably on 1971's The Flying Burrito Brothers). The Roberts-Meisner Band's drummer was well-known musician Ron Grinel, who also played with Dan Fogelberg, Carole King, and other bands, primarily acts managed by Irving Azoff. Also in the band were Bray Ghiglia on guitar, flute, saxophone, and keyboards, and Cary Park on lead guitar.
Meisner's band reunion activities have included the Legacy album with Poco in 1989 and the Eagles' 1998 appearance at the New York induction ceremony for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where all seven past and present members of the Eagles performed "Take It Easy" and "Hotel California". In recent years he has performed as a part of the World Classic Rockers touring group.
In early 2013, Meisner suffered a health scare after losing consciousness in his Nebraska home. A piece of food obstructed his breathing while he was eating, and he was rushed to the hospital. Though his doctors were optimistic about his recovery, in his weakened state, Meisner was unable to accept the invitation to join the Eagles' 2013 reunion tour alongside former bandmate and fellow ex-Eagle, Bernie Leadon.Eder, Bruce. "Randy Meisner > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-11-28. Ruhlmann, William. "Eagles > Biography". billboard. Retrieved 2009-11-28. Cite error: The named reference Felder.2C_Holden._Pg._80 was invoked but never defined (see the help page). Felder, Holden. Pg 81 "Randy Meisner > Credits". allmusic. 1946-03-08. Retrieved 2009-11-28. Eliot. Pg. 37. Sharp, Ken (September 2006). "Randy Meisner takes it to the limit one more time. Pg. 3-4". discoveries. Retrieved December 20, 2009. Eliot. Pg. 37-38. Eliot. Pg. 38. Eder, Bruce (1969-12-13). "Rick Nelson in Concert (The Troubadour, 1969) > Overview". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-11-28. Felder, Holden. Pg. 81. Felder & Holden 2008, p. 185. Felder & Holden 2008, p. 185-186. Felder & Holden 2008, p. 187. Felder & Holden 2008, p. 188. Felder & Holden 2008, p. 190. "The Eagles". Rockhall.com. Retrieved 2009-11-28. "Randy Meisner of the Eagles Interview : Smooth Jazz Now Radio Streaming Live". Smoothjazznow.com. Retrieved 2009-11-28.
In 1988, a man named Lewis Peter "Buddy" Morgan started impersonating Meisner. He had previously been charged with impersonating Don Henley in Las Vegas, but skipped on his bail. Morgan's identity was not conclusively revealed until 1997. In 1998, he was arrested and spent 16 months in jail, but upon his release continued his charade and was still doing so as of 2009. In Reno, Nevada, he tried to use Meisner's identity to rent hotel rooms. He was not as successful as before with the ruse, since area hotels had notified each other of the impostor. Some people are not familiar with Meisner's appearance, and Morgan used that fact to con musical instrument manufacturers and retailers, casino owners, and women.Comment by Jack Hopkins. "San Francisco News - Fake It to the Limit - page 1". Sfweekly.com. Retrieved 2009-11-28. "People in the news". Associated Press Online. 1998-02-27. Retrieved 16 January 2013. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required) "Randy Meisner Imposter Still Conning at Super Bowl in Vegas". Gambling911.com. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2013-01-16. "crew partied with Eagles Randy Meisner, or did we?". Gambling911.com. 2006-07-30. Retrieved 2009-11-28.