The Eagles, ‘History of the Eagles’ – Film Review
(Courtesy of http://ultimateclassicrock.com/) The three-hour ‘History of the Eagles‘ documentary is an entertaining if slightly sanitized trip through the career of one of rock’s most popular groups.
The first two hours, which first aired on Feb. 15, focus on the group’s formation, rise to super-stardom and dramatic breakup, while the following night’s one-hour episode picks the story up with the band’s 1994 reunion and continues to the present day.
We see how a surprising range of stars — Kenny Rogers, Bob Seger, Linda Ronstadt — helped the group during their early years, and how Glenn Frey learned to write songs partially by hearing Jackson Browne toil endlessly on songs like ‘Doctor My Eyes’ day after day in the apartment above his own.
It isn’t long till the Eagles have conquered the world, and we’re off into the “third encore” rock and roll excess portion of the tale. It’s also here that the first sign of inner-band conflict turns up, as Joe Walsh is brought in to replace original guitarist Bernie Leadon as Frey and Don Henley seek to add more of a rock edge to the band’s sound.
The eventual departures of bassist Randy Meisner and guitarist Don Felder are addressed in much harsher terms, with the former essentially dismissed as a crybaby and the latter icily referred to as “Mr. Felder” by Henley. We learn about the fight over who should sing ‘Victim of Love,’ and even get to hear actual on-stage audio recordings of the threats between Felder and Frey from the famous 1980 Long Beach concert that essentially ended the group.
It’s obviously a current lineup-sanctioned documentary, but Leadon and Felder (who gets touchingly emotional) are allowed to state their side of the story in present-day interviews, and Henley and Frey are pretty open about their desire to control the band and the effect that had on the relationships with their departed bandmates.
There are entertaining backstage and studio video clips from throughout the band’s history and a smattering of vintage live footage. If this collection ever makes it to the home video market it would be nice to see more songs played live in full, especially from the old shows. But in general ‘History of the Eagles’ accomplishes its modest goals in a completely satisfactory manner.