The original four take flight ~ Colorado 1971

The original four were sent to Colorado to develop and perfect their live show and play together as a band. There the four musicians, who would become the Eagles, honed their craft and soon left for England to record their first album.


Aspen

(Click video to view)
Snippet from ‘History of the Eagles’
Directed by Alison Ellwood, Co-produced by Alex Gibney, (Jigsaw Productions 2013)


‘The Gallery was at the base of Ajax Mountain (now Aspen Mountain)
right below the ‘Little Nell’ ski run.
Photo: 1970’s Skiing Resort Photos of Aspen, Colorado


There was a Ski Patrol strike in 1971 where several patrollers are holding signs at the base of ‘Little Nell’ ski run on Ajax Mountain (now known as Aspen Mountain).
‘The Gallery’ is the building on the right.
Photo: Aspen Historical Society


The Gallery in Aspen, Colorado 1971
Still frames from ‘History of the Eagles’, Directed by Alison Ellwood
Co-produced by Alex Gibney, (Jigsaw Productions 2013)


Randy’s memories of playing in Colorado in 1971

We went up to Aspen to a club up there for a week or two, just to get to know each other’s playing. We did cover songs, maybe ‘Johnny B. Goode,’ some old blues songs, and a few originals that we were starting to write like ‘Witchy Woman.’ We wanted Glyn Johns to produce us. We were playing at a club in Boulder and Glyn came up to see us. At the time Glyn thought we were too rock and roll and didn’t concentrate on the vocals enough, which probably was right. But at the time we were like, ‘Yeah, we wanna rock and roll!

We played this club. Every night I would record us on a little stereo cassette. I got this mixing board from Radio Shack, took all the mics and recorded everything. It sounded really good because nobody was in the club.

All the kids from the colleges were taking their exams so we’d get like three people a night. We were just playing to a dry stage so it recorded really well. After that the Concert For Bangladesh album came out and so I recorded the applause off the album, made a loop of it and added it to the live tape. It sounded like we were playing to millions of people. And Glenn saying at the end, ‘I’d like to thank the management all the way down to the waitresses for having us here.’
(Interview with Ken Sharp, 2006)


“Everybody was just playing their own kind of way. There was a lot of rocking kind of blues and a lot of cover songs. At the time we had started doing ‘Witchy Woman’ and we were doing a rhythm and blues flavored version of ‘Take It Easy’ that was a real hoot. During that period, we were playing three and four sets a night to sometimes nobody but the waitresses, drinking a lot of beer and just having a good time. But, as we played more, you could see we were getting tighter as a band and were using those gigs to boil down our song list to what really worked.”
(The Story of the Eagles The Long Run, by Marc Shapiro, 1995)


Don’s memories of playing in Colorado in 1971

“The show at Tulagi’s was basically an audition for British superstar record producer Glyn Johns, who had been asked by our management (Geffen & Roberts) to come and see us perform in the U.S. Why they chose Tulagi’s in Boulder on a snowy December night is still a mystery to me. But Johns duly arrived at the Denver airport and I picked him up in a rental car and drove him to the club in Boulder. The roads were icy and snow was falling. There were about 6 or 7 people in the club and we played a lackluster set with which Mr. Johns was not impressed. The entire plan was wrong from the outset — the place, the timing, all of it. I don’t recall having to wear any gloves, but I know that the circumstances and the atmosphere in general were bleak. Our managers just didn’t have a clue what they were doing and neither did we. The simple fact is that, no matter where we had performed that showcase, it was premature; we simply weren’t ready to make an album. We didn’t have enough original material or enough experience playing together as a band. …

The shows at the Gallery club in Aspen were a somewhat different story. We always packed that place and people danced till the wee hours. At that point, we had a couple of original songs, but mostly we played cover tunes, repeating some of them as many as two or three times a night. But, the locals loved it. There wasn’t much else to do at night in that town, in those days. But, that’s where we began to develop our early sound and our individual roles within the framework of the group, although we still hadn’t developed as songwriters and didn’t have enough original material for an album. After our stint at that club in Aspen, we returned to L.A. to try to develop more material. …

[However,] Sweating out three or four sets a night in front of a blotto crowd in a little club in Aspen was important in terms of simply making us more resilient as a group; it was basically just calisthenics, but it crystallized our realization that we needed to go back to L.A. and create some original material if we were going to make an album. Each of us had already separately spent years in little cover bands, playing sweaty clubs in various parts of the country, so a couple of weeks of ‘woodshedding’ in Aspen was enough. So, we returned to L.A. and continued to rehearse, there, with Glyn Johns checking in on us periodically, but still refusing to produce a record for us until one day he heard us singing four-part harmony, more or less a cappella, or maybe accompanied by one acoustic guitar. Suddenly, his whole attitude changed. He had finally heard what he wanted to hear, the sound he had been looking for, and not long afterward, we were on our way to London to record our first album with Johns at the helm.”

(Boulder Daily Camera, October 11, 2015)


Glenn’s memories of playing in Colorado in 1971

Excerpt from The Aspen Times:

“The Eagles, with exactly one date under their belts, at California’s Westlake School for Girls, thus landed at the Gallery for their first extended appearances in front of an audience. ‘I remember the first night, there were 40 people for the first set, then 80 people for the second set. By the fourth show of the night, it was packed. The word spread pretty quickly,’ Frey said, adding that the Eagles played several weeks of gigs at the Gallery in October 1971, then returned a month later for another round of dates. ‘We played a lot of shows, a lot of sets.’ Beyond the pay (the whole band split $500 for a week of gigs) and the memories (driving out in a Jeep and a van; hanging out with such local musicians as Bobby Mason), the Aspen runs were an ideal way to coalesce as a band. ‘It was a good way to get started, out from under the Hollywood microscope,’ the 61-year-old Frey said. ‘We were able to play a bunch of songs over and over, get to know each other. It was a total experience, something I’ll always look at fondly.'”
(“The Long Run Is Not Over For Eagles’ Frey” by Stewart Oksenhorn, The Aspen Times, September 4, 2010)


More from The Aspen Times:

Frey’s recollection was that they played several shows in October 1971 and then returned to Aspen the next month.

‘It was all because of Irving Azoff,’ said Tim Mooney, who got to know the members of the Eagles while bartending at the Hotel Jerome.


Azoff, also the manager for Jimmy Buffett, knew the scene in Aspen and brought the Eagles in to develop their live show.

‘They basically rehearsed a lot of songs when they got together here,’ Mooney said. ‘They were as green as the audience was.’

He got to know the band members when they started coming to the Hotel Jerome hoping to meet Hunter S. Thompson. A few years later, Buffett hired Mooney as a roadie. Buffett opened for the Eagles, who were on their way to super stardom.


‘We started partying and hanging out with those guys,’ Mooney said.


As it states in the above article, the original four became a familiar sight, along with fellow musician Jimmy Buffett, at the J-Bar located in the Hotel Jerome in Aspen. They were hoping to meet Hunter S. Thompson there.

Photo: Hotel Jerome, fall of 1968, by Mary Eshbaugh Hayes


Hunter S. Thompson is third from the right in sunglasses.


Hunter S. Thompson in Aspen
Photo: Aspen Times Weekly, June 24, 2021

(Thompson was an American journalist and author, and founder of the
gonzo journalism movement. He wrote for Rolling Stone magazine.)


Boulder

Tulagi ~ 1970s


“During winter break 1971, around Christmas, a disheveled band took the Tulagi’s stage on The Hill. The heater was broken, the club was frigid, the crowd was small. One of the musicians strummed a banjo in gloves.

G. Brown (Jour ’79),* then a CU freshman, (legally) served 3.2 Coors beer from the bar and listened skeptically. I remember them saying, ‘We’re going to be the biggest band in the world,’ said Brown, now executive director of the nonprofit Colorado Music Experience. ‘I was thinking, What are you talking about? There’s 30 people here.’ Less than a year later, the band toured the country with ‘Take It Easy’. ‘The Eagles were off to the races to become the biggest American band of the 1970’s,’ said Brown.

(In its 1970s heyday, Tulagi, located at 1129 – 13th St., hosted star acts including the Doobie Brothers, Linda Ronstadt and ZZ Top, and of course the four musicians who would become the Eagles.)”

-University of Colorado Boulder, Coloradan Alumni Magazine,
‘How Tulagi Got Its Start ~ The Tule’
by Christie Sonart, October 1, 2019

*G. Brown became a journalist and covered popular music for the Denver Post for 26 years and now is the Executive Director of the Colorado Music Experience.


Here are Chuck Morris’ memories of the original four playing at Tulagi. At the time he was a University of Colorado student. He booked the original four at Tulagi:

“’I got a call from their manager at the time, David Geffen,’ Morris told the Daily Camera in 2003 after Tulagi was seized by state tax agents and shuttered. ‘He said, ‘I’ve got this new band I’m putting together. They`re on their way to England to record their first record. They`re going to be huge. I’d like them to play for five days, just to work out their material. Their producer’s going to fly in.’

‘So I canceled my vacation and kept the club open,’ Morris said. ‘About eight people came each night, but the band was brilliant. (Producer) Glyn Johns would take notes, and after each show they’d go back to the bar and talk about it. It was tremendous.’” (“Glenn Frey And The Eagles: A Storied Part Of Boulder’s Music History” by Matt Sebastian, Daily Camera, January 19, 2016)


The original four played Tulagi’s on December 11-15, 1971. The venue was closed from December 16th until the first of the year, according to the Denver underground paper, Chinook.


Glyn John’s Memories of Colorado 1971

“In November 1971, I was in Los Angeles and was contacted by David Geffen, who had just started Asylum Records. He had signed the Eagles and set about securing me as the producer for their first record. I agreed to go to Denver, Colorado, accompanied by John Hartmann from Elliot (Roberts) and David’s Office to see them play.

The Eagles were at least playing a venue with a few paying members of the public along. They were not that impressive. They played a selection of covers. Chuck Berry rock and roll kind of thing. Bernie Leadon, a great country picker, on one side of the stage, and Glenn Frey, an average rock and roll guitar player on the other, with Don Henley and Randy Meisner being pulled in two directions in the middle. The sound was not that great, and I got no impression of the wonderful vocal harmony that they became famous for. All that, combined with a fairly bland, somewhat awkward stage presence convinced me that they were not worth pursuing, and I returned to London.”

The story continues with David Geffen pestering Johns to return to L.A. and see the band in rehearsal. He was not impressed until they took a break for lunch:

“As we were exiting the building someone said, ‘Hold on, before we go, let’s just play Glyn ‘Most of Us Are Sad,’ a ballad that Randy Meisner sang the lead on, with the others singing harmony. Bernie and Glenn grabbed a couple of acoustic guitars and they played the song without bass and drums, with all of us standing in a group near the door, and there it was. The harmony blend from heaven. It knocked me clean off my feet.”
(Glyn Johns, Sound Man: A Life Recording Hits with The Rolling Stones, The Who, Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Eric Clapton, The Faces…, 2014)

Listen to Randy’s story about performing at Tulagi’s.
(The original recording contains static, but you can still make this out.)


The Teen King Story

Bernie Leadon (Eagles guitarist 1971-75):

“Glenn was like James Dean. He had this habit of throwing a cigarette up in the air and trying to catch it with his mouth. Eighty percent of the time he’d miss [laughs], but then he’d catch it. He had the pack of cigarettes rolled up in the sleeve of his T-shirt. We called him the Teen King or Roach.” (“Glenn Frey: An Oral History,” David Browne, January 28, 2016)


According to Cameron Crowe, Glenn had a penchant for handing out nicknames:

I was “Get Down Clown.” And Glenn, who along with Henley made a regular habit of charming the ladies with gallant good manners, was “the Teen King.” Because of his ability with charting Eagles harmonies, he was also “the Lone Arranger,” and once, because he’d collected a small garbage bin filled with weed in his backyard, he was “Roach.” Don Felder, his guitarist, was “Fingers.”

Rolling Stone, January 21, 2016

Two years after the original four played at ‘The Gallery’ in Aspen,
the Eagles played at the Popgala in Voorburg.
Glenn Frey with ‘Teen King’ on the back of his t-shirt.
Photo: Taken on March 10, 1973 at the Popgala in Voorburg


One longstanding myth is that the band billed themselves as Teen King & The Emergencies at these shows. There is no evidence that this ever happened. It is likely, however, that they were billed simply as “Eagle,” according to a Denver Westword article in 2016. It was also the name they were billed under when they opened for Joe Cocker in Spokane and Portland in April 1972.


Leave a Reply