The band formed in 1971 when Linda Ronstadt's then-manager, John Boylan, extracted Frey, Leadon, and Meisner from their affiliations. They were short a drummer until Frey phoned Henley, whom he had met at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. The band backed up Ronstadt on a two-month tour, then decided to form their own band, The Eagles.
Their first album, The Eagles, was filled with pure, sometimes innocent country rock; their second, Desperado, was themed on Old West outlaws and introduced the group's penchant for conceptual songwriting.
To record their third album, On the Border, the group selected producer Glyn Johns, who previously worked with Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. The band wanted to rock, but Johns tended to extract the lush side of the band's double-edged music. After completing two thirds of the album with Johns, the band turned to Bill Szymczyk to produce the rest of the album. Szymczyk brought in Don Felder to add slide guitar to a song called "Good Day in Hell", and the band was blown away. Two days later Felder became the fifth Eagle. On the Border yielded a #1 Billboard single in the song "Best of My Love", which hit the top of the charts on March 1, 1975.
Their next album, One of These Nights, had an aggressive, sinewy rock stance. Between the album and the subsequent tour, Bernie Leadon left the group, disillusioned about the direction the band's music was taking. The group replaced Leadon with Joe Walsh, a veteran of such groups as the James Gang and Barnstorm and a solo artist in his own right. The addition of Walsh made the group's aim perfectly clear: they wanted to rock. The title track from One of These Nights hit #1 on the Billboard chart August 2, 1975. By this time, the people in the band started clashing with each other and there were intra-band fights.
Meanwhile, in early 1976 Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) was released. It went on to become the biggest-selling album in US history, selling over 28 million copies.
The group's next album, Hotel California, came out in late 1976, and was about the pursuit of the American dream ? 1970s style. Using California as a metaphor for the nation, the Eagles wrote about innocence ("New Kid in Town", a #1 hit in Billboard on February 26, 1977) and temptations ("Life In The Fast Lane" and the classic title track, a #1 hit in Billboard on May 7, 1977) of that pursuit. The striking, mournful ballad "Wasted Time" closed the first side of the record, while an instrumental reprise of it opened the second side. The album concluded with "The Last Resort", an epic tale of the loss of American paradise. In all Hotel California is generally considered to be The Eagles' masterpiece, and has appeared on several lists of the best albums of all time; it is also easily their best-selling studio album.