Randy Meisner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Randy Meisner
Birth name Randy Herman Meisner
Born (1946-03-08) March 8, 1946 (age 69)
Scottsbluff, Nebraska, U.S.
Genres Rock, country rock
Occupation(s) 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
Notable instruments
Fender Precision Bass
Rickenbacker 4001S
Fender Jazz Bass

Randy Herman Meisner (born March 8, 1946) 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 cowrote and sang.

Early life[edit]

Randy Herman Meisner was born in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, the second child and only son of sharecroppers Herman (1911-1995) and Emilie Meisner (1911-2010). Randy recalled his mother was always singing around the house. His grandfather Alex was a Russian classical violinist.[1] The family grew beans, alfalfa, corn and sugar beets on their farm.[2] Randy developed an interest in the guitar at ten years old, after seeing Elvis Presley perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. He began taking lessons and playing in local bands. While attending Scottsbluff High School, one of Randy's teachers suggested he take up the bass. "I loved R&B and the bass players on the Motown stuff were great. They really inspired me. I can't read music. Once I learn a part it's there. My bass playing came real naturally." [3] 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 September 1963. The couple had two more children, twins Heather Leigh and Eric Shane Meisner, both born in May 1970, before divorcing in 1981.[4]


Early career (1961-1968)[edit]

Randy Meisner played bass and sang with a local band named The Dynamics (later The Drivin' Dynamics[5]) from 1961 to 1965. Their first paying job was in the dance hall at Little Moon Lake, near Henry, Nebraska in December 1961. They played there regularly through 1962. In late 1962, The Drivin' Dynamics released their first record, a 4-song EP with Meisner singing lead vocals on Sam Cooke's "You Send Me." [6] It was pressed locally with only 500 copies released. In August 1965, The Dynamics signed a record deal with Sully Records out of Amarillo, Texas. They recorded three songs, with Randy singing lead on two: "One Of These Days" and "So Fine".[7] "So Fine" was released as a single and sold well regionally and in the southeastern U.S.[8] Later in 1965,[5][9] Randy moved to California with a band named The Soul Survivors,[9] later to be renamed The Poor[5] (because, as Don Felder later said, "that is what they became").[4] It was a hardscrabble existence, as Meisner later recalled, "I never had a car, I had to walk. I sold the Los Angeles Free Press on Sunset and Highland. I made about five bucks a day." [10] The Poor was managed by Charlie Greene and Brian Stone, who also managed Buffalo Springfield and Sonny & Cher. The band released several singles on Loma, York and Decca Records in 1966 and 1967, with limited success. Loma Records was a subsidiary of Atlantic, and had offices in the same building. In February 1967, The Poor recorded "She's Got the Time, She's Got the Changes," written by Tom Shipley (later of Brewer & Shipley fame) while he was a staff writer for A&M Records. Three of the singles were produced by Barry Friedman, aka Frazier Mohawk, and recorded at Phil Spector's Gold Star studios. The band performed on "Study in Motion #1" which was featured in the 1967 Jack Nicholson film Hell's Angels on Wheels. In the summer of 1967, The Poor was booked for two weeks at the Salvation Club in New York City, opening for the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Though they did get to play a few times, it was not the opportunity they had hoped it would be, and the band members had to threaten management to get money for plane tickets back to L.A. Rev-Ola released a CD of The Poor's music in 2003, which included one song written by Meisner called "Baby Come Back." [11]

Poco (1968-1970)[edit]

In May 1968, after auditioning alongside the likes of Gregg Allman and Timothy B. Schmit, Meisner joined Poco (originally named Pogo)[5] with former Buffalo Springfield members Richie Furay and Jim Messina.[5][12] Meisner appeared on Poco's first album, Pickin' Up the Pieces,[13] but quit the band[14] 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.[14] His image was removed from the painting on the album's cover,[15] and replaced with the dog seen at the far left.[16] His bass parts and backing vocals were left in the final mix,[15] but his lead vocals were removed, and new versions were sung by George Grantham.[17]

In April 1969, Meisner joined Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band,[18] 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, previously of Buck Owens band, completed the group.[17] Meisner appears on both In Concert at the Troubadour, 1969[18] and Rudy The Fifth. He is also featured in Easy to Be Free, a documentary of the Stone Canyon Band's 1969 tour, directed by Rick Nelson's brother David. The film was eventually broadcast on American television in 1973.[19] Meisner co-produced "In Concert at the Troubadour" with Rick Nelson. Although he did not perform on Nelson's Garden Party, he did co-author one of the album's tracks, "I Wanna Be With You."[13] Meisner continued to support himself as a session performer, playing bass on two tracks of James Taylor's Sweet Baby James album ("Country Road" and "Blossom").[13]

Meisner returned to Nebraska in the spring of 1970, working at the local John Deere tractor dealership, Frank Implement. At night, he played in a band called Gold Rush. Later that year, with Rick Nelson's encouragement, he returned to Los Angeles to resume his career.[20][21] By mid-1971, he was recruited by John Boylan to become active in Linda Ronstadt's repertoire of backing musicians, which included Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon, who later joined Meisner as the founding members of the Eagles.

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,[9] 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," the band's first million-selling single, 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 the Hotel California album, 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.[22] 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.[23] 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.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]

Meisner formally quit the band in September 1977,[9] citing "exhaustion".[27] On the subject of his abrupt resignation from the band, Meisner later said, "All that stuff and all the arguing amongst the Eagles is over now. Well at least for me."[28] Meisner expressed disappointment and hurt at being excluded from the band's 1994 "resumption" tour Hell Freezes Over. In an interview with the television program American Journal, Meisner said he had contacted the band's manager, Irving Azoff, when he heard rumors of the band reforming but was brushed off by Azoff.[29] "You'd think that you would be mentioned if you helped with six of the albums, but they act as though I never even played with them," Meisner said at the time.[30] Randy also asked the band if he could sit in with them at their Millennium Concert at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on New Year's Eve 1999, but says he was rebuffed. However, he holds no resentment towards Henley and Frey, has never maligned them for years and neither he nor Leadon share the bitterness of Felder.[31][32]

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). Randy has said that his 1978 album, which he co-produced with Alan Brackett, was scattershot and not "conceptualized to its best." It only featured one song co-written by Randy, a new arrangement of "Take It to the Limit." He explains that "Elektra had a 'leaving members clause' and I had to record an album for them before I was able to do what I wanted." [33] 1980's One More Song was produced by Val Garay and featured backing vocals by Don Henley and Glenn Frey on the Jack Tempchin-composed title track. Meisner co-wrote six of the album's nine songs, including the Top 20 single "Hearts on Fire," collaborating with songwriters Wendy Waldman and Eric Kaz.

He toured with his band, Randy Meisner & the Silverados, throughout the early 80s and in 1982 released another album on CBS (Randy Meisner), recorded with members of Heart and produced by Mike Flicker. 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.[34]

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 and tour with Poco in 1989-90 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". He even reunited with the Drivin' Dynamics for a performance in 2000, when the band and Randy as a solo performer was inducted into the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame. In the 2000s he performed as a part of the World Classic Rockers touring group. After suffering severe chest pains and being hospitalized in August 2004, Meisner cut back on his touring schedule. His last known public performance was in 2008 in Naples, Florida.[35]

Personal life[edit]

Meisner is married to his second wife, Lana, whom he married in November 1996 after twelve years together. He currently resides in Los Angeles, California.

Many people who have met and worked with Randy Meisner remark on his kindness. Both Don Felder and James Taylor have described Meisner as one of the nicest people they've ever worked with. Felder adds, "He was a wonderful Midwestern guy with a great heart and a loving soul." [36] Henry Diltz, who photographed Randy extensively with the Eagles and in the early 1980s during Randy's solo career, says, "Randy Meisner was a very gentle soul. Pisces. A quiet and friendly guy. No aggressive vibe at all. Very sweet. He was so there and open." [37] His shyness has also been remarked upon, and may have caused him some difficulty as a performer at times. "Randy was extremely uncomfortable with so-called superstardom," Don Henley told author Marc Eliot.[38]

Impostor case[edit]

In 1988, a man named Lewis Peter "Buddy" Morgan started impersonating Meisner.[39] He had previously been charged with impersonating Don Henley in Las Vegas, but skipped on his bail.[40] Morgan's identity was not conclusively revealed until 1997.[39] 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.[41] 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.[39][42]

Health and legal issues[edit]

Meisner has struggled on-and-off with alcohol and drug addictions since the late 1960s, especially during his tenure with the Eagles, as he struggled to deal with his newfound fame. He later credited his drug use as one of the main reasons for his first marriage failing, and subsequently stayed sober for a prolonged period of time in the late 1980s.[43] He has since relapsed on several occasions. The abuse eventually took a toll on Meisner's health, and following minor heart attacks in 2004 he was forced to cut back on touring. As his health continued to deterioate, he eventually stopped performing, with his final performance being in 2008 in Naples, Florida.[44]

In March 2013, Meisner suffered yet another health scare after losing consciousness in his California home. A piece of food obstructed his breathing while he was eating, and he was rushed to the hospital. Doctors were optimistic about his recovery, but in his weakened state, Meisner could not accept the invitation to participate in the History of the Eagles tour alongside fellow ex-bandmate Bernie Leadon, who participated on the tour.[45] The incident damaged his vocal chords, leaving him with weakened voice and speech.

In April 2015, Meisner and his wife denied rumours that she was taking advantage of his known addictions to alcohol and drugs, trying to force-feed him bottles of vodka to keep him drunk, in response to the singer's longtime friend, James Newton, filing papers in April asking that Meisner be placed under a court-supervised conservatorship governing both his personal and financial matters.[46] Despite this, three months later, the Los Angeles County Superior Court appointed a temporary conservator to oversee the 24-hour management of Meisner's drug prescriptions and medical state, after he was diagnosed as bipolar and suicidal. Meisner had allegedly threatened to kill himself, his wife and several others with an AK-47.[47]



Year Album US
1978 Randy Meisner #204
1980 One More Song #50
1982 Randy Meisner #94
1990 Black Tie
2001 Meisner, Swan & Rich
2002 Dallas
2005 Love Me or Leave Me Alone


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

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
  • "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)



  1. ^ Catlin, Roger (1984-10-14). "Meisner Works on Music First". Omaha World-Herald (NE). 
  2. ^ McMullan, Gautier. Pg. 64.
  3. ^ "Eagles' first bassist likes life out of the limelight". Classic Rock. Retrieved 2008. 
  4. ^ a b Felder, Holden. Pg. 80.
  5. ^ a b c d e Eder, Bruce. "Randy Meisner > Biography". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  6. ^ Meisner, Randy. "Extended Biography". Sonic Past Music. Retrieved 2015-08-25. 
  7. ^ Cassells, Steve. "So Fine - Drivin' Dynamics". YouTube. Retrieved 2013-02-05. 
  8. ^ "Randy Meisner". Nebraska Music Hall of Fame. 
  9. ^ a b c d Ruhlmann, William. "Eagles > Biography". billboard. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  10. ^ Kubernik, Harvey (2009). Canyon of Dreams. New York: Sterling. p. 272. ISBN 978-1-4027-9761-3. 
  11. ^ "The Poor". YouTube. 
  12. ^ Felder, Holden. Pg 81
  13. ^ a b c "Randy Meisner > Credits". allmusic. 1946-03-08. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  14. ^ a b Eliot. Pg. 37.
  15. ^ a b Sharp, Ken (September 2006). "Randy Meisner takes it to the limit one more time. Pg. 3-4" (PDF). discoveries. Retrieved December 20, 2009. 
  16. ^ Eliot. Pg. 37-38.
  17. ^ a b Eliot. Pg. 38.
  18. ^ a b Eder, Bruce (1969-12-13). "Rick Nelson in Concert (The Troubadour, 1969) > Overview". allmusic. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  19. ^ "Easy To Be Free". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-09-27. 
  20. ^ Felder, Holden. Pg. 81.
  21. ^ Tobler, John (1998). Rick Nelson & the Stone Canyon Band. BGO Records. p. 3. 
  22. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 185.
  23. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 185-186.
  24. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 187.
  25. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 188.
  26. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 190.
  27. ^ "The Eagles". Rockhall.com. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  28. ^ "Randy Meisner of the Eagles Interview : Smooth Jazz Now Radio Streaming Live". Smoothjazznow.com. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  29. ^ "American Journal". L&M's Eagles Fastlane. Retrieved 2014-08-30. 
  30. ^ "Eagles Reunion Tour Leaves Randy Meisner Out in Cold,". San Jose Mercury News (CA). 1994-06-18. 
  31. ^ "Flashback: All the Eagles Unite for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction". Rolling Stone. 
  32. ^ Jamie Reno. "EXCLUSIVE: Eagles Fans Angered by New Documentary on the Band - The Reno Dispatch". therenodispatch.blogspot.com.au. 
  33. ^ Meisner, Randy (2005) [2000]. Live in Dallas liner notes (reissue ed.). Sonic Past Music LLC. p. 3. 
  34. ^ Rich, Jr., Charlie. "Randy Meisner". Charlie Rich, Jr. 
  35. ^ "RANDY MEISNER CONCERT CHRONOLOGY". angelfire.com. 
  36. ^ Felder, Don (2008). Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001). John Wiley & Sons Inc. p. 111. ISBN 978-0-470-45042-0. 
  37. ^ Kubernik, Harvey (2009). Canyon of Dreams. New York: Sterling. p. 282. ISBN 978-1-4027-9761-3. 
  38. ^ Eliot, Marc (1997). To the Limit: the Untold Story of the Eagles. Little, Brown. p. 160. ISBN 0316233706. 
  39. ^ a b c Comment by Jack Hopkins. "San Francisco News - Fake It to the Limit - page 1". Sfweekly.com. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  40. ^ "People in the news". Associated Press Online. 1998-02-27. Retrieved 16 January 2013.  – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
  41. ^ "Randy Meisner Imposter Still Conning at Super Bowl in Vegas". Gambling911.com. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2013-01-16. 
  42. ^ "crew partied with Eagles Randy Meisner, or did we?". Gambling911.com. 2006-07-30. Retrieved 2009-11-28. 
  43. ^ History of the Eagles DVD
  44. ^ "RANDY MEISNER CONCERT CHRONOLOGY". angelfire.com. 
  45. ^ "Don Henley Dishes on Former Eagles Members Don Felder, Bernie Leadenand Randy Meisner ~ VVN Music". vintagevinylnews.com. 
  46. ^ "Eagles' Randy Meisner -- Take It Easy ... I'm Doing Just Fine". http://www.tmz.com. 
  47. ^ NY Daily Times