From its origins to its continued legacy, the story behind Randy Meisner’s signature song.
This behind-the scenes look at the Eagles’ concert at Mile High Stadium on August 8th, 1976, includes interviews with Randy’s parents, his wife, as well as a rare glimpse of life backstage and on the road.
Linda Ronstadt and J.D. Souther opened.
The concert was attended by more than 50,000 fans. It was only the second concert in the newly-built Kingdome. The first was Paul McCartney & Wings in June.
Original concert poster
The sound was terrible in the giant venue unless you were seated directly in front of the stage. Fans who came to hear the Eagles’ perfect harmonies couldn’t hear them unless they were right up close. Patrick McDonald of the Seattle Times, noted that due to the size of the Kingdome and the number of people in attendance, the show resembled an “indoor Woodstock” with people milling around and friends sitting together passing pipes and joints. However, unlike Woodstock, the Kingdome was equipped with a giant video screen that hung near the stage:
“One major difference was the big screen, which did give everybody a good view of what was going on on stage. They were doing different things with than at the Wings show – split screen, dissolves, extreme close-ups, etc. It was like watching In Concert on a giant TV screen except the sound is better on TV.”Patrick McDonald, Seattle Times, August 8, 1976
This video screen footage of the Seattle concert exists as a bootleg. Below I have included the video of Randy’s two lead-singing performances, “Midnight Flyer” and “Take It To The Limit.” Unfortunately, the beginning of “Take It To The Limit” has been edited out and it starts in the middle of the song. I have also included “One Of These Nights” because Randy was groovin’ through the whole song. A link to the entire concert is at the bottom.
“Take It To The Limit”
Listen to the end to hear Glenn Frey say “That was Randy Meisner, our bass player, hitting the high notes there. We love it every night.” Then Joe Walsh pipes in: “He can sing higher than that if he needs to.”
“One Of These Nights” with groovin’ Randy and his eardrum-shattering high notes during the choruses at the end.
Watch the full concert here: https://archive.org/details/the-eagles-1976-seattle-wa
Andrew Gold opened both shows. Steve Miller made a guest appearance on the 19th.
“Randy Meisner, the bass guitarist, lifted the show to a new level of excitement with his singing of ‘Take It To The Limit.'”
Scott Cain, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 20th, 1977
“Bassist Randy Meisner gave an outstanding singing performance on ‘Take It To The Limit.'”
Bill King, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 21st, 1977
Eagles onstage, June 20th, 1977. Photo ©Kelly Campbell.
Review: Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 21st, 1977
Randy at the Omni
Andrew Gold opened.
Randy handed out water to sweltering fans. His high note on “Take It To The Limit” was compared to opera soprano, Anna Moffo.
“Bassist Randy Meisner gave the crowd a good rush when he took a note in ‘Take It To The Limit’ that Anna Moffo would be proud to call her own. Meisner had a great rapport with the crowd. At least twice he came to the aid of fans sweltering on the front lines of the surging floor crowd with some liquid relief. They appreciated it and showed so by making him come to the mike to take a bow for his high note.”Russ Edmonston, Greensboro Daily News, June 28, 1977
Notice that Randy is playing a black Hagstrom bass. A change from his usual Rickenbacker 4001 from the Hotel California tour. He played the black Hagstrom a few days earlier in Birmingham as well. Find out more about Randy’s basses here.
This was the third date on the Eagles’ 1977 Hotel California tour. Jimmy Buffett was the opening act.
Although this was the Eagles’ debut at New York City’s Madison Square Garden, the band played Felt Forum, the Garden’s smaller venue, back in 1972. For this sold-out appearance, the Eagles were backed by an orchestra for three songs: “Desperado Reprise,” “Wasted Time,” and “Take It To The Limit.” Three members of the Rolling Stones attended the concert: Mick Jagger, Ron Wood, and Bill Wyman. Wood accompanied the Eagles onstage for their last encore of Chuck Berry’s “Carol.”
An after-show party was given by Elektra/Asylum at the Garden’s Penn Plaza Club.
Praise for Randy:
“The event of the evening came with bassist Randy Meisner’s stunning vocalization of ‘Take It To The Limit’. In addition to sing-along support from the total audience, he received a standing ovation after each chorus.” (Record World, April 23, 1977)
(Compiled from contemporary reviews)
Turn To Stone
Take It To The Limit
New Kid In Town
One Of These Nights
Turn To Stone
Life In the Fast Lane
Victim Of Love
Rocky Mountain Way
Welcome To The Club
Take It Easy
Best Of My Love
Rolling Stone, May 5, 1977
Record World, April 23, 1977
The After-Show Party
Among the guests were Faye Dunaway, Paul Simon, John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Linda Ronstadt and J.D. Souther. Although members of the Rolling Stones were present at the concert, they did not attend the post-concert party.
According to Rolling Stone magazine: “The guests dined on Mexican food, but only had one brand of cheap white tequila to wash down their tacos.”
Below: Glenn at the buffet table which included an ice eagle sculpture.
This press kit for Randy’s first solo album included a bio, photos, and a rare interview.
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.”
We take a deep dive into the concerts and footage from the Eagles’ two-night stint at the Capital Centre in 1977.
These songbooks were released around the same time as each of the albums (Eagles & Desperado were published as one volume, back to back. Read one side, then flip it over to read the other). They included sheet music and lyrics for each song, accompanied by photos. The files below include abridged (shortened) versions of each these songbooks. I did not want to risk damaging the books by scanning every page (a couple are in fragile condition). All photos featuring Randy have been included.
Eagles – Eagles Songbook
Published 1973, Warner Bros. Publications
Included as a two-in-one with the Desperado Songbook.
Eagles – Desperado Songbook
Published 1973, Warner Bros. Publications
Eagles – On The Border Songbook
Published 1975, Warner Bros. Publications
Eagles – One Of These Nights Songbook
1976 Warner Bros. Publications
Eagles – Hotel California Songbook
1977 Warner Bros. Publications
Randy Meisner – One More Song Songbook
1981 Warner Bros. Publications
To my knowledge, the Eagles only published two tour programs during Randy’s tenure with the band. One to coincide with their Japanese tour in 1976 and one for the U.S. and European tour in 1977. Tour programs were published for Randy’s Japanese tours in 1981 and 1983. The latter is extremely hard-to-find. The ’81 program is included below.
Eagles – Japanese Tour Book 1976
Book included a poster
Eagles – 1977 Hotel California Tour Book
Distributed in both Europe and America.
Randy Meisner – Japanese Tour Book 1981
The Eagles performed two nights in a row at the Tarrant County Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas on July 7-8, 1977. These shows marked the next to last concert appearances of Randy Meisner with the band.
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.”
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:
“Take It To The Limit”
Click the link below to watch the concert in its entirety:
Eagles, Houston Summit, November 6, 1976
J.D. Souther opened for the Eagles.
“The turning point of the show occurred when Randy Meisner, bass guitarist, sang ‘Take It To The Limit.’ Meisner reached incredible high, sustained pitches with his strong, forceful voice that just sent shivers up the crowd’s spines. Crazed fans screamed and dashed toward the stage, where they remained until the end of the concert. Meisner received a standing ovation that lasted several minutes. When he realized the crowd wouldn’t stop, he danced and skipped around the stage which made the audience applaud even more.”