Randy Meisner

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Randy Meisner
Birth name Randy Herman Meisner
Born (1946-03-08) March 8, 1946 (age 68)
Scottsbluff, Nebraska, U.S.
Genres Rock, country rock
Occupations Musician, songwriter
Instruments Bass, vocals, guitar, guitarrón
Years active 1961–present
Labels Asylum, Epic, Rev-Ola, York
Associated acts Eagles, Poco, Ricky Nelson, Linda Ronstadt

Randy Herman Meisner (born March 8, 1946 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, U.S.) is an American musician and songwriter, best known as a founding member of Poco and the Eagles. Throughout his professional musical career Meisner's main role has been as 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.

Early life[edit]

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.[1][2][3] In May 1963, 17-year-old Randy 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, born in May 1970, before divorcing in 1981.[4]

Career[edit]

Early career (1961-1968)[edit]

Meisner's first public playing experience was with a local band named The Dynamics (later The Drivin' Dynamics[5]) in 1961. By 1965,[5][6] he had moved to California with a band named The Soul Survivors,[6] later to be renamed The Poor[5] (because, as Don Felder later said, "that is what they became").[4]

Poco (1968-1970)[edit]

In 1968, after auditioning alongside the likes of Duane Allman and Timothy B. Schmit, Meisner joined Poco (originally named Pogo)[5] with former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina.[5][7] Meisner appeared on Poco's first album, Pickin' Up the Pieces,[8] but was asked to leave the band[9] 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.[9] His image was removed from the painting on the album's cover,[10] and replaced with the dog seen at the far left.[11] His bass parts and backing vocals were left in the mix,[10] but his lead vocals were removed, and new versions were sung by George Grantham.[12]

In 1969, Meisner joined Ricky Nelson's Stone Canyon Band,[13] 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.[12] Meisner appears on both In Concert at the Troubadour, 1969[13] and Rudy The Fifth. Although he did not perform on Nelson's Garden Party, he did co-author one of the album's tracks.[8] Meisner continued to support himself as a session performer, playing bass on James Taylor's Sweet Baby James album,[8] 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.[14] By early 1971, he would become active in Linda Ronstadt's repertoire of backing musicians, which included Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon.

Eagles (1971-1977)[edit]

The Eagles in 1972 (left to right): Leadon, Meisner, Henley, Frey

In September 1971, Meisner, along with Henley, Frey and Leadon, formed the Eagles, signing with David Geffen's new label, Asylum Records,[6] 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18] 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.[19]

Meisner formally quit the band in September 1977,[6] citing "exhaustion".[20] 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."[21]

Post-Eagles (1978-onwards)[edit]

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.[citation needed] 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.

Imposter[edit]

In 1988, a man named Lewis Peter "Buddy" Morgan started impersonating Meisner.[22] He had previously been charged with impersonating Don Henley in Las Vegas, but skipped on his bail.[23] Morgan's identity was not conclusively revealed until 1997.[22] 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.[24] 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.[22][25]

Songs featuring Meisner[edit]

Eagles songs written or co-written by Randy Meisner[edit]

Eagles songs featuring Randy Meisner on lead or co-lead vocal[edit]

  • "Most of Us Are Sad" from Eagles
  • "Take the Devil" from Eagles
  • "Tryin'" from Eagles
  • "Take It Easy" - co-lead vocal w/Glenn Frey on second verse ("Well, I'm-a standin' on a corner in Winslow, Arizona...") from Eagles
  • "Certain Kind of Fool" from Desperado
  • "Saturday Night" - lead vocal in the bridge ("She said tell me, oh tell me...") from Desperado
  • "Midnight Flyer" from On the Border
  • "On the Border" - lead vocal in the bridge ("Never mind your name...") from On the Border
  • "Is It True" from On the Border
  • "Too Many Hands" from One of These Nights
  • "Take It to the Limit" from One of These Nights
  • "Try and Love Again" from Hotel California

Poco songs featuring Randy Meisner on lead or co-lead vocal[edit]

  • "Make Me a Smile" - high-harmony with Richie Furay from Pickin' Up the Pieces (written by Richie Furay/Jim Messina)
  • "Short Changed" - high-harmony with Richie Furay from Pickin' Up the Pieces (written by Richie Furay)
  • "Anyway Bye Bye" - original lead before leaving group from Poco (album) (written by Richie Furay)
  • "Nothin' To Hide" from Legacy (written by Richard Marx, Bruce Gaitsch)
  • "Rough Edges" from Legacy (written by Young, Radney Foster, Bill Lloyd)
  • "Nature of Love" from Legacy (written by Jeff Silbar, Van Stephenson)

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album US
1978 Randy Meisner #204
1980 One More Song #50
1982 Randy Meisner #94
2002 Dallas
2005 Love Me or Leave Me Alone

Singles[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
1975 "Take It To The Limit"
(with the Eagles)
Adult Contemporary 4
Pop Singles 4
1980 "Deep Inside My Heart"
(duet with Kim Carnes)
Pop Singles 22
1981 "Hearts on Fire" Mainstream Rock 14
Pop Singles 19
1982 "Never Been in Love" Pop Singles 28
1990 "Nothin' To Hide"
(with Poco)
Adult Contemporary 10
Pop Singles 39
1990 "Nature of Love"
(with Poco)
Adult Contemporary 10

References[edit]

  • Eliot, Marc. To the Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles. Da Capo Press, 2004. ISBN 978-0-306-81398-6
  • Felder, Don with Holden, Wendy. Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974–2001). Wiley, 2008. ISBN 978-0-470-28906-8

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Felder, Holden. Pg. 80. ISBN 978-0-470-28906-8
  2. ^ Eliot. Pg. 28. ISBN 978-0-306-81398-6
  3. ^ Felder, Holden. Pg. 110.
  4. ^ a b Felder, Holden. Pg. 80.
  5. ^ a b c d e Eder, Bruce. "Randy Meisner > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  6. ^ a b c d Ruhlmann, William. "Eagles > Biography". billboard. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  7. ^ Felder, Holden. Pg 81
  8. ^ a b c "Randy Meisner > Credits". allmusic. 1946-03-08. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  9. ^ a b Eliot. Pg. 37.
  10. ^ a b Sharp, Ken (September 2006). "Randy Meisner takes it to the limit one more time. Pg. 3-4". discoveries. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  11. ^ Eliot. Pg. 37-38.
  12. ^ a b Eliot. Pg. 38.
  13. ^ a b Eder, Bruce (1969-12-13). "Rick Nelson in Concert (The Troubadour, 1969) > Overview". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  14. ^ Felder, Holden. Pg. 81.
  15. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 185.
  16. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 185-186.
  17. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 187.
  18. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 188.
  19. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 190.
  20. ^ "The Eagles". Rockhall.com. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  21. ^ "Randy Meisner of the Eagles Interview : Smooth Jazz Now Radio Streaming Live". Smoothjazznow.com. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  22. ^ a b c Comment by Jack Hopkins. "San Francisco News - Fake It to the Limit - page 1". Sfweekly.com. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  23. ^ "People in the news". Associated Press Online. 1998-02-27. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  24. ^ "Randy Meisner Imposter Still Conning at Super Bowl in Vegas". Gambling911.com. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2013-01-16. 
  25. ^ "crew partied with Eagles Randy Meisner, or did we?". Gambling911.com. 2006-07-30. Retrieved 2009-11-28.