To the Limit

TO THE LIMIT: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE EAGLES is divided into three sections, followed by over one hundred pages of sources and notes, including an exhaustive listing of all recordings by the group members, collectively and individually. Part one, “Desperadoes,” begins with the early lives and careers of the four original band members, and the background of the many others who were involved in the Eagles’ development.

Don Henley, the drummer, was from a small farm town in Texas. Glenn Frey, rhythm guitarist, was from Detroit, Michigan. Randy Meisner, the bass player, came from Nebraska. Bernie Leadon, the lead guitarist, hailed from Minnesota. They met in Los Angeles in 1970, and began working together on a regular basis in 1971.

The second section of the book, “Life in the Fast Lane,” recounts the Eagles’ most successful period. The emphasis here is mostly on personal and musical differences among the members, especially the rivalry between Frey and Henley, and the changes in band membership.

Part three, “The End of Innocence,” deals with the 1988 breakup of the Eagles, and the later attempts by former members, especially Frey and Henley, to launch individual careers in music, television, and movies. It ends with the 1994 “Hell Freezes Over” reunion tour, the last time the band worked together.

TO THE LIMIT is an interesting tale of the rise and success, and also the problems, of a major force in American popular music. It does, however, get tedious at times. Much of the book is more about business than about music, and there is entirely too much emphasis on the various financial dealings between the band and the assorted businessmen who tried to capitalize on their success. There is also perhaps too much emphasis on the drug problems and sexual escapades of the musicians and their associates. The book might have been more engrossing at half its final length.