Singer-songwriter Jackson Browne was never an official member of the Eagles, but he did play a major role in their rise to fame.
Browne met late frontman Glenn Frey in Long Beach at a free concert they were both playing in. Browne was playing a song backstage. Frey and Longbranch Pennywhistle bandmate J.D. Souther chimed in and they became fast friends. Frey and Souther were looking for a place to live and they ended up living above Browne in the complex he recommended.
Frey remembers learning that Browne would write everyday. He would even hear some of the songs that Jackson Browne was working on through the floorboards. Frey says that he was impressed by Browne’s work ethic, as well as his songwriting.
“For this guy at 22-23 years old to be coming out with this beautiful poetry was a real inspiration,” Frey said in an interview.
Browne Lets Frey Finish ‘Take It Easy’
Browne was in the studio one day recording songs that he had been working on for his first album. It was there that he showed Frey the beginnings of “Take It Easy.”
“He asked if I was going to put it on my record and I said it wouldn’t be ready in time. He said, ‘Well, we’ll put it on, we’ll do it,’ ’cause he liked it,” Browne recalled in an interview.
“But it wasn’t finished, and he kept after me to finish it, and finally offered to finish it himself. And after a couple of times when I declined to have him finish my song, I said, ‘All right.’ I finally thought, ‘This is ridiculous. Go ahead and finish it. Do it.’ And he finished it in spectacular fashion. And, what’s more, arranged it in a way that was far superior to what I had written,” Browne explains.
Now, it clearly went on to become one of the Eagles’ most iconic songs, released in May of 1972. This begs the question, if Browne didn’t let Frey have a crack at his song, would the Eagles be what they are today? Probably so, given their dozens of other hits to come. But still incredible to know they got an initial boost from.
“Take It Easy” is from their self-titled debut album. Frey sings lead vocals on the song and it notched the Eagles a No. 12 hit. What’s more, their debut album is certified platinum. It helped them soar to become one of the most successful groups in the history of recorded music.
Jackson Browne Releases ‘Take It Easy’ After the Eagles
In 1973, Browne included his version of “Take It Easy” on his sophomore album, For Everyman. However, Brown’s rendition of the tune did not chart when it was released.
Nonetheless, that didn’t stop their friendship. Brown and the Eagles would continue to be friends and fans of each other’s music in the years to come. When Frey passed away in Jan. 2016, Browne joined the Eagles onstage to perform “Take It Easy” at the 2016 Grammy Awards. Browne sang the lead lyrics for the tribute.