“Take It to the Limit” may be one of The Eagles‘ most endearing songs. But it was also the beginning of the end for the band in 1975. The tune caused tensions and led to singer and bassist Randy Meisner quitting.
Despite being a musician, Meisner had a bit of stage fright. He preferred to blend in with the band and let frontmen Don Henley and Glenn Frey take the spotlight. That worked for most of their career together. But things changed with their newest hit “Take It to the Limit.”
The trio co-wrote the tune, which burned up the charts in part due to Meisner’s high-wire vocals during the chorus. But Meisner felt anxious about performing his part during live shows. This anxiety led to tensions between Meisner and the rest of the group.
“I was always kind of shy,” Meisner told Rolling Stone. “They wanted me to stand in the middle of the stage to sing ‘Take It to the Limit,’ but I liked to be out of the spotlight.”
Randy Meisner and Glenn Frey Got in a Backstage Brawl
In 1977, Meisner and fellow band member Glenn Frey reached a boiling point after Knoxville, Tennessee concert. The group had released their music-defining “Hotel California” album. But personally, Meisner experienced difficulties with his marriage as well as health problems. He felt exhausted after 11 months on the road.
“My ulcer was starting to act up. And I had a bad case of the flu as well,” Meisner said in his autobiography. “Still, we all sounded great on stage, the audience loved the show. And we were being called back for another encore. ‘No way,’ I said. I was too sick and generally fed up. I decided I wasn’t going back out.”
Meisner’s refusal to take the stage led to him and Frey getting in a backstage brawl. Security had to break the two up shortly after.
“After a few minutes they let go of Glenn but continued holding me,” Meisner said. “He grabbed a towel, wiped the sweat off his face, walked right up and threw it in mine.”
The Bassist Left The Eagles
The rest of the band took Frey’s side in the exchange and disassociated themselves from Meisner. The bassist continued playing with the band until the end of the tour. But he felt like an outcast among the group. Meisner became the second original member to leave, following guitarist Bernie Leadon in 1975.
“Those last days on the road were the worst. Nobody was talking to me or would hang out after shows or do anything,” Meisner continued. “I was made an outcast of the band I’d helped start.”
Meisner never played for The Eagles again. But he did reunite with his former bandmates in 1998 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Meisner began a career as a solo artist and continued to produce music. He doesn’t have any hard feelings towards his former bandmates or his time with The Eagles.
“You’re wasting your time thinking about that stuff,” Meisner 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.”
The group continued to perform for a couple of years after Meisner left. But the Eagles disbanded not long afterward. They wouldn’t reunite as a music act until the 1990s. They got a little help from Travis Tritt.