The Eagles played to 200,000 at the music festival, California Jam, held at the Ontario Motor Speedway outside of Los Angeles. The concert was produced by ABC and simulcast on TV and radio on May 10th, 1974. Jackson Browne filled in on several songs with the band in the absence of Don Felder, whose wife went into labor on the day of the concert.

Ad from the Los Angeles Free Press, March 22, 1974

California Jam from above. Photo by Mark Sullivan.
Two stages were used that were perched on 600 feet of railroad track. As one band played, the other stage was set up for the next act, then rolled onto center stage. The stages can be seen under the striped canopies. The semi-circle of trailers behind the stages were the bands’ dressing rooms.

The Eagles played a 45-minute set (only 20 minutes was televised)
(Not in order of performance)

James Dean
Blackberry Blossom
Midnight Flyer
Already Gone
Take It Easy

Tequila Sunrise
Witchy Woman
Peaceful Easy Feeling
Early Bird
Outlaw Man

Below is a clip of the Eagles’ intro from the radio simulcast on ABC’s KLOS-FM in Los Angeles:

Heading to the stage:
L-R: Glenn Frey (behind the door), Don Henley, Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, and road manager, Richie Fernandez.

Bernie, Randy (blue shirt), Glenn and Don

L to R: Randy Meisner, Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon

Randy at Cal Jam.
According to Jennifer Meisner, the eagle on his shirt was hand-embroidered by a fan.
Photo ©Jeffrey Mayer

Photos by Julian Baum

Randy performing “Midnight Flyer” from On The Border, which had just been released:

The footage below includes the five songs that aired in the televised concert on May 10th, 1974:

“James Dean”
“Blackberry Blossom”
“Midnight Flyer”
“Already Gone”
“Take It Easy”

Post-show interview with Bernie Leadon (San Diego Door, May 14, 1974)
Although Bernie talks mostly about the band’s music and albums up to 1974, he did voice his frustration to interviewer Greg Leonard about the band’s mid-day performance at Cal Jam:

“Bernie had just returned from what he felt was a frustrating performance in the mid-day heat. When I met him he was nursing a glass of champagne trying to relax after the tension of playing outdoors, with no prior soundcheck, before nearly 200,000 people.”

Reviews and further reading.

Daily Report, Ontario, CA, April 7, 1974
USC Daily Trojan, April 22, 1974
Circus, August 1974 (includes review of On The Border as well as California Jam.) Love the author’s description of Randy as “impish.”
San Diego Door, April 24, 1974
“The Eagles played the most aesthetically satisfying set of the day.”

The art show was called “El Chingadero” (Elder’s nickname) and was arranged by fellow artist John Van Hamersveld. The event took place in Venice at a garage that was converted into an art studio. Elder’s artwork was later used on the cover of three Eagles albums: One Of These Nights (1975), Their Greatest Hits: 1971-1975 (1976) and The Very Best Of (2003).

This art show is often touted as the first public performance by the Eagles. This is simply false. Please see my post about the shows in Aspen and Boulder in November and December 1971. There were all advertised gigs in front of an audience. Other articles claim the band was also “unsigned.” This is also untrue. The Eagles signed with Asylum in September 1971. They had just finished recording their debut album a couple of months before the art show.

The poster for the El Chingadero, which also served as an invitation.
The poster was created by Rick Griffin, who later designed the unique lettering for the Eagles’ third album, On The Border:

In Marc Eliot’s biography To The Limit, Elder recalled that the band stood in a corner and played the same songs over and over because they were nervous and didn’t seem confident in their material. Perhaps this is true, but it seems unrealistic. A couple of weeks later, they would set out on a short tour as an opening act for Joe Cocker. So, it seems unlikely that they wouldn’t have had a setlist already worked out. Plus, they had just finished recording their first album. It’s possible that they were nervous to be playing for the first time in front of an audience of their peers.

Below: Jackson Browne watches as the Eagles perform (Randy at left). ©Henry Diltz.

Bernie Leadon, Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, David Geffen, and Ned Doheny at the opening. ©Henry Diltz.

The Eagles paid homage to “El Chingadero” in the song “Visions” from One Of These Nights with the line: “Play on, El Chingadero, Play on.” The song was co-written by Don Felder and Don Henley (and sung by Felder). In his autobiography, Felder recalled the line and its meaning:

At one point in the lyrics, Don and Glenn sing, “Play on, El Chingadero, play on.” I learned later that chingadero is Spanish and loosely translates to ‘motherfucker.'”

Don Felder, Heaven and Hell: My Life In The Eagles (1974-2001)

Hear the line at 2:02:

The Eagles – “Visions” (1975)

Henry Diltz shot footage of the opening, which was shown in the documentary, History Of The Eagles. You can hear the band singing “Tryin'” as well as “Get You In The Mood,” a non-LP track, written by Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne, that later appeared as the B-side to “Take It Easy.” Henley’s narration makes it seem as though this footage was filmed in Colorado in 1971, but it was actually filmed at the art show in April 1972. You can see the artwork on the walls at :26, plus Jackson Browne, who is wearing the same clothing as the photo above. More footage from the event can be seen here.

Footage from History Of The Eagles ©Alison Ellwood, Jigsaw Productions, 2013.

Read more about the opening here.

Sunshine Festival, Anaheim, CA, September 28th, 1975

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.”

Balboa Stadium, San Diego, CA
September 27, 1975

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).

San Diego Union, September 7, 1975

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.