From its origins to its continued legacy, the story behind Randy Meisner’s signature song.
The Eagles appeared on the third episode of The Helen Reddy Show on July 12th, 1973. Also featured were Mac Davis, Gladys Knight & the Pips, and Cheech and Chong. The Eagles played two songs: “Witchy Woman” and “Tequila Sunrise.” This show marked their U.S. television debut. 1
On the heels of Reddy’s hit, “I Am Woman,” her friend Flip Wilson offered her his primetime NBC time slot while the Flip Wilson Show was on summer hiatus. The eight episodes were billed as Flip Wilson Presents The Helen Reddy Show.
Below are short clips of the Eagles’ performances of “Witchy Woman” and “Tequila Sunrise.”
(Sources: 2018 promo video for Eagles Legacy Box Set. History Of The Eagles documentary, 2013.)
Randy’s wife Jennifer, their 9-year-old son, Dana, and Jennifer’s 13-year-old niece, Bobbi, were present at the taping, which took place a month or two earlier at NBC Studios in Burbank. Below is an article from the Scottsbluff Star-Herald, Randy’s hometown paper, announcing The Helen Reddy Show appearance. Included with the article was a photo of Jennifer posing with a poster from the Eagles’ concert at London’s Royal Festival Hall in March 1973. Many thanks to Jennifer, as well as the Scottsbluff Public Library, for the complete article (Jennifer’s 50-year-old clipping had been cut off after the 3rd paragraph.) Unfortunately, the article is riddled with misspellings, the most glaring is Randy’s last name. Near the bottom, the paper quotes Jennifer as saying the Eagles had finished taping a show with the Ike and Tina Turner Revue. This would have been the 90-minute In Concert special on ABC, which aired August 3rd, 1973. Note: The Eagles’ appearance on The Helen Reddy Show was shown in most areas on July 12th, however, some cities aired the show later in the week, including Scottsbluff.
Since the Eagles were not touring in July 1973, Randy was home and able to watch the show with his family.
1Although the Reddy show marked the Eagles’ U.S. television debut, this was not Randy’s first stint before television audiences. His group, The Poor, appeared on episodes of Ironside and The Name Of The Game in 1968. He also made a number of TV appearances with Rick Nelson & The Stone Canyon Band between 1969 and 1971. In March 1973, the Eagles made two European television appearances on Popgala ’73 and BBC’s In Concert.
An inside look at the Eagles’ appearance on DON KIRSHNER’S ROCK CONCERT in April 1974.
The Eagles opened for the Rolling Stones at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Joe Walsh joined them as their guest.
Joe Walsh made a surprise appearance with the Eagles for a version of his own “Rocky Mountain Way.”
Walking offstage after the show: Randy is behing Eagles’ manager, Irving Azoff (in glasses).
The Eagles and Edgar Winter opened for Yes.
This show was originally slated for August 14th, but had to be rescheduled due to rain.
Photo ©Robert Corwin.
The Eagles appeared on ABC’s In Concert series on August 3rd, 1973. The 90-minute show also included Ike & Tina Turner and Jim Croce, among others.
The show was taped on June 20th, 1973 at UCLA’s Royce Hall.
Below: The Eagles were photographed during a soundcheck.
Randy is wearing an unusual knit shirt covered with faces that he purchased at L.B. Murphy’s, a department store in his hometown of Scottsbluff, NE.
Tickets to the taping were free to UCLA students. Several concert segments were filmed in one day.
The Eagles performed “Tequila Sunrise,” Early Bird,” and “Witchy Woman.” Randy wore another shirt with a Scottsbluff connection for the taping: a yellow Frank Implement Company shirt. Frank Implement was a John Deere dealership in Scottsbluff, which was owned by the father of a friend. Randy worked there for a brief time in 1970. His only real job.
In 1974, The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, hosted an In Concert second anniversary special, which revisited performances from the past two seasons. Below is his introduction to the Eagles segment.
Below are the three songs the Eagles performed on In Concert in 1973. Apologies for the low quality.
“Early Bird” (co-written by Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner)
Eagles opened for Procol Harum.
Most likely the location of the backstage photo of the band taken by Cameron Crowe’s friend, Gary Elam, which was originally published in San Diego Door in November 1972. Crowe mistakenly recalled in 2015 that the photo was taken at the San Diego Civic Theater. The Eagles did not play there in 1972.
Black Tie (billed individually) performed at the Cinegrill in Hollywood for their “Jam” night. Original members Randy, Jimmy Griffin, and Billy Swan were joined by Blondie Chaplin, David Kemper, and George Michalski, who were part of their touring band. Kemper also appeared on Black Tie’s album, When The Night Falls.
Read more about Black Tie below.
The Eagles opened for Procol Harum.
Ad for the concert from the Los Angeles Free Press, June 30th, 1972.
Note the order of the band members’ names with Bernie and Randy mentioned first.
Eagles at Santa Monica Civic. Photo by Sam Emerson.
L.A. Times review by Robert Hilburn:
Linda Ronstadt and others visit the band backstage. Randy is not pictured. Photos by Sam Emerson.
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
Best Of My Love
Randy onstage at MRF:
Review from the Edwardsville Intelligencer:
The Eagles appeared at Spring Fest on the campus of Southern Illinois University/Edwardsville (SIUE).
Livingston Taylor (James’ brother) opened.
The previous night, Glenn Frey had been arrested following the Eagles’ concert at Mershon Auditorium in Columbus. He was charged with possession of a small amount of marijuana and public intoxication.
Glenn made no mention of the arrest in a backstage interview in Edwardsville. He talked about the difference between “superfans,” who want to get as close to the stage a possible, and music fans, who stay a few rows back because they want to hear the music.
Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey were photographed in the afternoon prior to their appearance at Spring Fest.
Photo by John Milazzo (Focus magazine, October 1974)
The Eagles onstage.