On This Day: The Eagles Officially Break Up in 1980

by Matthew Wilson

The Eagles was one of the biggest bands of the 1970s. With hits like “Take It Easy,” “Desperado,” and “Hotel California,” the band was riding a career-high. But drug use and in-fighting caused rifts to form within the group. Egos ran high and recording sessions devolved into fights and arguments.

On July 31, 1980, the Eagles fractured seemingly for good. On this day, 41 years ago, a fundraiser turned into a swan song for the Eagles. The band held a concert performance for Senator Alan Cranston. But during a meeting, guitarist Don Felder was less than enthused at meeting the politician. Felder reportedly said, “You’re welcome, Senator … I guess.”

But vocalist Glenn Frey felt that Felder disrespected the Senator and later confronted the musician about his bad attitude. That led to a confrontation between the two during the concert. Both of The Eagles promised to come to blows when the concert was over.

“I felt Don Felder insulted Senator Cranston under his breath, and I confronted him with it. So now we’re onstage, and Felder looks back at me and says, ‘Only three more songs till I kick your ass, pal.’ And I’m saying, ‘Great. I can’t wait,'” Frey recalled. “We’re out there singing ‘Best of My Love,’ but inside both of us are thinking, ‘As soon as this is over, I’m gonna kill him.’ That was when I knew I had to get out.”

When the concert ended, Frey and Felder didn’t fight. But the guitarist did smash his guitar to pieces against a wall. He promised he would never play with Frey again and ended up leaving the gig in a limo. Music fans thought that The Eagles was finished. In many ways, they had completed the classic rock star trajectory. They rose to prominence, flew close to the Sun, and crashed and burned.

The Eagles Fly Again

After that night, The Eagles went their separate ways. Both Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, and Don Henley launched successful solo careers. Over the next decade, the band denied that The Eagles would ever reunite. But come December 1993, the Eagles flew again.

Why did the band reunite? Well, rock fans can thank country legend, Travis Tritt. He requested the band reunite for a music video of his cover of their hit “Take It Easy.” That music video proved to be the catalyst to end the decade’s bad blood between them.

“First of all,” Tritt told Outsider recently. “I don’t take any credit for bringing The Eagles back together.”

But he did prove to help relaunch The Eagles once more. A few months later, they kicked off the Hell Freezes Over tour together. But sometimes habits die hard. Frey and Felder continued to feud during the reunion until The Eagles kicked Felder out officially in 2001.

The Eagles continue to perform today with Decon Frey, Glenn’s son in the lineup. Sadly, Glenn Frey himself passed away in 2016.