J.D. Souther was also on the bill. The Eagles drew the second largest crowd ever at the festival, which was sponsored by Southern Illinois University/Edwardsville (SIUE), with 29,700 attending. The Who drew the largest in 1971 with 31,000.
The show was not without problems. Festival officials had only planned for a crowd of 12,000, but twice as many showed up. There were traffic jams, fights, and property damage.
Randy backstage before the show
There were more problems behind-the-scenes. The Eagles’ road manager “threw a tantrum” because the food provided to the group was not what they requested:
“The road manager threw a tantrum because the food furnished for the group was cold cuts, not hot fried chicken. He complained about stage security. The group itself couldn’t decide if they wanted a sound check or not.” (Alton Telegraph, July 30, 1975)
Nevertheless, backstage photos show the band’s dining area with what appears to be fried chicken remnants on the table.
They also performed a sound check. Photo by Ken Regan.
During the afternoon of the concert, Ken Regan took a series of photos of the band at the local Holiday Inn as well as backstage at the festival site:
See more photos below:
Mississippi River Festival Setlist (partial) Take It Easy Peaceful, Easy Feeling Outlaw Man Desperado James Dean Witchy Woman Already Gone Best Of My Love
Jimmy Buffett opened. Randy sang lead on “Midnight Flyer” and “Too Many Hands.”
When Buffett inducted the Eagles into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame in 1998, he recalled that he met the band for the first time backstage at this show.
Take It Easy Outlaw Man Desperado One Of These Nights Train Leaves Here This Morning Peaceful Easy Feeling Ol’ 55 Journey Of The Sorceror Midnight Flyer Already Gone Too Many Hands Good Day In Hell James Dean Witchy Woman Oh Carol (encore) Best Of My Love (encore) Tequila Sunrise (encore)
Also on the bill were Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne.
Randy performed “Take It To The Limit” at this show in one of his first-ever performances of the song. On a more bittersweet note, this was the last concert to feature the original four members of the Eagles. Bernie Leadon quit the band shortly after the Anaheim show and the Eagles did not perform again for the rest of the year. When they returned to touring in January 1976, the band included Leadon’s replacement, Joe Walsh.
Below is Robert Hilburn’s review of the festival in the Los Angeles Times, September 30th, 1975. This is the first known mention of “Take It To The Limit” in a concert review (second to last paragraph). Randy also performed “Midnight Flyer.”
Randy’s “Take It To The Limit” was “really well-performed and the crowd reaction was instantaneous, long and loud–so long, in fact, that he told the crowd it was embarrassing him, and he looked as if it were.”
A week before the show on November 11th, the band was interviewed by radio host, Gary Bridges, for an Eagles special on WDBG.
According to the review, the truck transporting the band’s sound system was involved in a serious accident in Des Moines, IA the day before the show, so the band had to rent less-than-ideal sound equipment for a large arena.
Sadly, no mention of Randy in the review (the only band member not mentioned).
J.D. Souther opened the show and later joined the band onstage for “Best Of My Love,” which he co-wrote with Don Henley & Glenn Frey.
The Summit had a four-sided video screen called a “Telscreen” which hung from the ceiling. Any band who came in to perform paid a flat fee for use of the Telscreen and received a videotape of the concert in return. These Telscreen performances were often bootlegged, hence the existing footage of the Eagles Summit show, which has never been released officially.
According to a March 5th, 1978 article in the Houston Chronicle, the Summit’s Telscreen production crew were known to add graphics to their video footage as it was happening. During concerts, they focused mainly on whoever was singing. This explains the footage of the Summit show, which included graphics between songs and very few camera angles.
At the show, Randy and Joe both wore white t-shirts bearing the logo for Criteria Studios in Miami where the band was finishing up Hotel California at the time. In fact, the previous night’s show in Baton Rouge was held up for two hours because the band was late arriving from Miami.
In 2006, Randy recalled the grueling touring and recording schedule from this period:
“We had to go out on the road while we were doing that album and then go back to Criteria Studios in Florida to finish it…We went back and forth a lot…wanted to get the tracks right and mixed right. We knew the album was special.“
Interview with Ken Sharp, 2006
The less-than-complimentary review in the Houston Chronicle noted that the band looked and sounded “frayed around the edges,” this was perhaps due to their touring/recording schedule from the time period.
Below are Randy’s two lead-singing performances from the concert:
The band arrived two hours late from Miami where they were putting the finishing touches on Hotel California.
Opening the show was J.D. Souther. Randy performed “Midnight Flyer” and “Take It To The Limit.”
Below: a new (to me) photo by concertgoer Debbie Ray:
According to a description of the show in LSU’s 1977 Gumbo yearbook, someone in the audience threw an object at Randy during “Tequila Sunrise” hitting him on the side of the head:
“As the group was arrayed across the stage singing, ‘Tequila Sunrise,’ someone threw an object from the side of the stage which hit bass player Randy Meisner on the side of his head. He grimaced but continued playing until the song’s conclusion when he picked up the object and hurled it back in the general direction from which it had come. Dropping his bass with an amplified thud he stalked off stage in a huff as the rest of the group received the applause oblivious to the whole incident.” (Gumbo yearbook, 1977, Louisiana State University)
All photos from LSU’s Gumbo yearbook (1977):
According to the review in LSU’s Daily Reveille, Randy’s solo on “Take It To The Limit” was a highlight (5th paragraph).
The band’s late arrival is mentioned in the Baton Rouge Advocate review, November 6, 1976:
Although not billed, Tom Waits performed at the August 18th show, much to the displeasure of the audience:
“Unfortunately Tom was booed off the stage before he could do a whole set, presumably because the Eagles fans were more accustomed to sweet than dour. The headliners were not pleased, and made a big point of emphasizing the identity of the composer of ‘Ol 55’ when the time came.” (Ken Langford, Tom Waits Library)
It’s interesting that Waits would perform at this show since he disliked the Eagles version of his song and said so publicly in early 1975 (read more here). The next year his comments about the band were even more harsh when he told a reporter that their albums were only good for “keeping dust off your turntable.” One can’t help but wonder if getting booed at this concert added to his contempt for the band.
The Eagles headlined the “One Of These Days” concert at Balboa Stadium in San Diego. Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt also performed. The show was filmed and portions of it were shown on Saturday Night Live With Howard Cosell (not to be confused with long-running NBC show).
The following review is not the most positive, but provides a good description of the show and the songs that were played.
At one point during the Eagles’ set, sportscaster, actor, and former Detroit Lions football player, Alex Karras, appeared onstage with the band in a red wig and large guitar. Note Detroit native Glenn Frey’s shirt that said: Alex Karras Blues Band.