It wasn’t all about writing, recording, and touring. The Eagles didn’t attain their success by accident. They made their money because they ran their band like a business. They created their own promotion company, management company, booking agency, and handled their own finances. They cut out the middle man as often as they could. This was the business of being the Eagles.

L to R: Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner, Don Henley, and Bernie Leadon
San Diego, 1972 ~ Photo by Gary Elam

Click on all documents to enlarge.

First Recording Contract

Don Henley regarding the fact that the original four knew nothing about the business when they signed their first recording contract.
(Click to play)

The Eagles signed their first recording contract
with Asylum Records on September 12, 1971.
The document sold on April 17, 2004 for $4,935 by Heritage Auctions

Enlargement of the artists’ names and addresses section of the
Eagles’ Agreement with Asylum Records

Note the penciled in addresses for Glenn, Randy and Don.
Randy lived at 4100 Arch Dr., N. Hollywood (Studio City)
for several years in the ’70s.

Letter Confirming the Option for Renewal

August 11, 1972, Don Henley’s letter confirming the option granted for the first
renewal period of the Eagles September 12, 1971 contract with Asylum Records.
This document sold on February 17, 2003 for $196 by Heritage Auctions

In 1972, Asylum Records was taken over by Warner Communications, Inc. Soon afterwards Warner consolidated their label holdings under the Warner-Elektra-Atlantic umbrella and merged with Asylum Records to become Elektra/Asylum Records with David Geffen as president and chairman of the newly combined label.
The Encyclopedia of Popular Music, by Conlin Larkin, Oxford University Press, 2006

Amendment To The First Recording Contract

Amendment to the band’s first recording contract with Asylum Records, dated March 1, 1974. This amendment dealt with percentage of royalty rates and a new grammatical paragraph added regarding the company entering into an agreement directly with any producer of the master recordings.
These documents sold on November 3, 2018 for $1,312.50 by Heritage Auctions

Signed by Glenn, Bernie and Don Henley

Randy signed page -2- of the amendment separately.
(Was he possibly in Nebraska when the other three Eagles signed the amendment?)

* Don Felder’s amendment dated June 1, 1974

Eagles, Ltd. Incorporated

Eagles, Ltd. was incorporated on July 12, 1974
Source: opencorporates (The Open Database Of The Corporate World)

According to Don Felder’s book ‘Heaven and Hell, My Life in The Eagles (1974-2001)’:
A corporation was set up called Eagles, Ltd. and Randy, Glenn, Don Henley, Bernie and Don Felder would each own a fifth of it. All money from touring, merchandising, and recording royalties would come directly to Eagles, Ltd. and then be divided equally. Bernie was discontent with this as Don Felder had just joined the band so Irving made a suggestion. Don Felder would only get paid a fifth of the profits of the cuts he played on and a fifth of all other profits from this point forward. Don Felder, as well as everyone else, agree to that. They appointed Glenn president and Don Henley secretary.

* Section 2. of Don Felder’s amendment dated June 1, 1974 (above) covers this agreement by the band.

Termination of 1971 Contract
(New Recording Contract as Eagles, Ltd.)

The August 21, 1974 contract terminated the 1971 contract with Asylum Records. Elektra/Asylum Records, A Division of Warner Communications, Inc. entered into a new recording contract with Eagles, Ltd.
The following documents sold on October 1, 2004 for $627.38 by Heritage Auctions

August 21, 1974 contract signed by Glenn, Bernie, Don Henley and Don Felder

Signature page of August 21, 1974 contract signed by Randy
(Randy signed separately on this contract again.)

Glenn on why the Eagles formed Eagles, Ltd.
(Click to play)

Eagles File A Multi-Count Antitrust Suit

Cash Box ~ May 21, 1977

Irving Azoff regarding the lawsuit against David Geffen and Warner Bros.
and Geffen’s response to the lawsuit.
(Click to play)

In 1977, The Eagles Re-sign
With Elektra-Asylum

Glenn (with Irving) displaying their latest contract with Elektra-Asylum.
(Click to play)

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images, 1977

In 1977, Randy left the Eagles. He signed a Termination Agreement with the band in 1978, in which he ceded his intellectual property (licenses and copyrights related to songs performed by the Eagles) in return for royalties for a portion of proceeds from the sales of certain of the Eagles’ recordings. He gave up his shareholder rights at that time, as did Bernie Leadon when he left the Eagles, because both left the group voluntarily.
Source: FindLaw

Copyright ~ Vintage Rock Photos

“When I did the last ‘Randy Meisner’ album (1978) after leaving the Eagles on the completion of the Hotel California tour, what I really needed was a rest. However, Elektra Records had a ‘leaving members’ clause and I had to record an album for them before I was able to do what I wanted.”

Source: Liner notes from the Randy Meisner – Live In Dallas 1982 CD (Sonic Past Music Label)

Note: Bernie Leadon fulfilled his contract ‘leaving members’ clause by recording The Bernie Leadon-Michael Georgiades Band – ‘Natural Progressions’ (Asylum Records) 1977

Randy was a musician by trade and made his living that way,
but by everything that I have read about his career
I tend to believe it was about the music for Randy.

‘Ex-Eagle Randy Meisner Flies High Solo’, by Dave Zimmer
BAM The California Music Magazine, November 7, 1980

‘Bassist-Composer Randy Meisner Courageously Bailed Out Of The Eagles
So That He Could Rock His Own Boat’
by David Sheff, January 12, 1981 (People Magazine)

Photo caption: Testing a new speedboat at his Studio City home, Randy finds himself
without a paddle. His other sports include skiing, bowling and poker,
but his diciest challenge was leaving the Eagles.

“I could have tripled my money if I’d stayed,” Meisner says now, without regret. “But I was just tired of the touring. It’s a crazy life that you live at twice the normal speed. When it got to the point of sanity or money,” he says, “I thought I’d rather have sanity.”

(from the same article above)

Success to Meisner is “just to be happy with what you’re doing.” “Money,” he says, “is one thing. Happiness is the greater.”

‘Rock in the country – Poco’s Randy Meisner reflects on being a music pioneer’
by Rex Rutkowski/Gannett News Service, Lansing State Journal (Lansing, Michigan)

July 19, 1990

How did major success affect the band?

“In my situation I’m just real laid back and didn’t really worry about it too much. Money and success wasn’t anything that I really cared about, to tell you the truth. The success of the music was all I was worried about. Being successful and think you’re some big shot now, that never entered my mind. I’ve always tried to be humble about it and enjoy what we had.”

Randy Meisner Takes it to the limit one more time’, by Ken Sharp, Discoveries Magazine, September, 2006 (Rock Cellar interview)

Randy Meisner doesn’t share Felder’s bitterness. “You’re wasting your time thinking about that stuff,” he said. “I got a great business manager. When he invests, you make money. I got my house paid off, my wife, two little chihuahuas and tomato plants that are five feet high right now. I’m happy as a clam.”

Rolling Stone – ‘Flashback: All the Eagles Unite for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction’
by Andy Greene, February 7, 2013

The Eagles would go on to file lawsuits and register trademarks, and a former Eagle would file a lawsuit against the Eagles. Through it all, Randy carried on and stayed true to his music.

Notes: All video clips are from ‘History of the Eagles’, Produced by Alex Gibney, Directed by Alison Ellwood, Jigsaw Productions, 2013

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  1. First class research Kathie. There’s quite a few bands should have been as astute as the business minded Eagles. Dear Randy doesn’t seem to have a business bone in his body. For him it was always the music.

    1. Thank you, Leah! I’m sure it was great to make a living doing what you love to do, but by Randy’s own quotes at the end of the post you can sense it was about his love for music that kept him going. You know ~ taking him to the limit!

  2. Love this post. Truly shines a light on the real Randy, one of my favorites. A very humble guy caught up in the glitz and glam he was not cut out for. Thank you for the post.

    1. You’re welcome, Laura. I thought the same thing when working on this post. Randy doesn’t seem like a “glitz and glam” kind of guy. He sure was cut out for those high notes and haunting lyrics though. His bass playing can’t be beat!

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