Everybody knows that Travis Tritt is a country music icon. He has a long list of hits that were the soundtrack to a good portion of the 90s. If you turned on the radio during that decade, you heard TT’s voice. That was just the way of things. Recently he dropped a new album. Set in Stone is like a time capsule from about thirty years ago. However, did you know that he played a big role in getting The Eagles back together for their Hell Freezes Over tour?
Travis Tritt was on the most recent episode of The Road You Leave Behind with Marty Smith. During their chat, he told Marty all about how the Eagles reunion happened.
Travis Tritt Gets the Band Back Together
While talking about his influences, Travis Tritt mentioned The Eagles. After he finished what he was saying, Marty Smith let listeners know that Tritt put the classic country-rock band back together. The band split up in 1980 and were barely on speaking terms. Each of the members had gone their own way.
Travis Tritt laughed a little before going into the story. “First of all,” he said, “I don’t take any credit for bringing The Eagles back together.” He went on to say that it all started with the album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles.
That album was both a tribute to The Eagles and a charity album. Some of the proceeds from that album went to the Walden Woods Project, a charity started by Eagles co-founder Don Henley. The Eagles’ manager Irving Azoff started by contacting country artists to cover various Eagles hits. Travis Tritt was one of the last people to be tapped for the project.
Because he was one of the last to be tapped, every song that Travis Tritt wanted to cover was already spoken for. So, his Nashville-based attorney suggested that he cover “Take It Easy,” noting that it was their first number-one hit.
Travis Tritt may have been one of the last artists to be tapped but his cover was chosen as the first single off of the album. That meant that they were going to produce a video to promote both the single as well as the project as a whole. Azoff informed Tritt of this. Then he asked what concept Tritt would like to use for the video.
A Big Ask
At that moment, Travis Tritt was shocked, honored, and utterly flummoxed. He had no idea what kind of video he wanted to do for the song. All he knew was that it had to be something special. About this, he said, “So, off the top of my head, without even thinking about it, I said, ‘Hell I don’t know, let’s get The Eagles back together,’.”
Travis Tritt said that Azoff’s reply was silence. Tritt had no way of knowing just how bad the band’s breakup really was. Azoff, on the other hand, knew all about it. He knew it was not going to be an easy feat. Azoff called Tritt a few days later to say that it was in his hands.
It was on Travis Tritt to get both Don Henley and Glenn Frey to agree to get the band back together. The friction between those two is what finally broke up the band. Furthermore, Don Henley said that Hell would freeze over before they got back together.
Apparently, Travis Tritt is really damned cool. He made the calls and got everyone on board with the idea of getting back together for the video.
Travis Tritt Gets to be an Eagle for a Day
The video shoot took place in December of 1993. Travis Tritt met up with Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B. Schmidt, and Don Felder in a little cantina in LA. He told Marty Smith that most of the video was just him and the Long Run-era Eagles hanging out in the bar. They had some beers, shot some pool, and walked down an alleyway together. However, the director of the video wanted some performance shots. So, he told the group to get up on stage and pantomime playing the song together.
Travis Tritt said that all the amps and instruments on the stage were live. So, he picked up a guitar and started playing the opening riff to Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way.”
“Joe Walsh and I ended up sharing the same microphone,” Travis Tritt recalled. That was the first time that The Eagles had played together in fourteen years. He went on to say, “I got to be an Eagle for a day and it was just a thrill.”
The first date of The Eagles Hell Freezes Over reunion tour was in April of 1994, just four months after Travis Tritt shared the stage with them for the video.