COURTESY PF BENTLEY
The spirit of 1976: When the Eagles first played Honolulu back in the day, with guitarist Joe Walsh, above, and singer/drummer Don Henley, below, the band was at the height of its popularity, touring behind a best-selling greatest hits album and its soon-to-be-released classic "Hotel California."
‘Farewell’ doesn’t mean goodbye
Editor's note: Some information in this article appeared online at The Arizona Republic, Wikipedia and Talon Music.
When the Eagles first performed in Hawaii more than 31 years ago, their opening act at the Waikiki Shell was a singer named Linda Ronstadt. Tickets were $3.50 to $6. The concert grossed $19,950, from which promoter Tom Moffatt says he made $2,099.
The Eagles 'Farewell I' Tour
Place: Blaisdell Arena
Time: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Tickets: $65 to $250 (tickets are 90 percent sold for the first three shows)
Note: Maui Arts & Cultural Center show Dec. 6 is sold out.
Flashes from the past with PF Bentley
PF Bentley photographed more than 100 concerts in the early 1970s while working for Sunbums Magazine and attending the University of Hawaii. He remembers this 1976 Eagles concert as a sellout at the HIC Arena (now the Blaisdell).
After graduating from UH in 1975 with a degree in education, Bentley left Hawaii and began an award-winning career in news photography. His work has appeared in Time, Newsweek and on ABC News. He has covered every presidential campaign since 1980, winning an unprecedented five Picture of the Year awards from the University of Missouri School of Journalism for his photographs of the nation's top politicians.
In 2003 he joined the faculty of the Brooks Institute of Photography in Ventura, Calif., where he teaches advanced photo and videojournalism.
He lives part time on the Big Island.
The band became one of the most fabled in rock history and did four more Hawaii concerts, including two Aloha Stadium performances, to always increasing audience numbers.
The Eagles return this week in high-flying fashion, with four Oahu concerts and one on Maui. Only Elton John and Lionel Richie have come close to such a concert schedule with three local appearances in a week.
Tickets this time, by the way, are $65 to $250. The top price is more than double what any rock act has charged here and is the highest of the Eagles' "Farewell I" tour.
The Eagles -- Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Tim Schmit -- are supplemented on tour by eight additional players: a drummerpercussionist, guitarist Steuart Smith, two keyboard players and a four-person horn section.
Don't take that name -- "Farewell" -- seriously. The band broke up in 1980, only to reunite 14 years later with the "Hell Freezes Over" tour, so named for Henley's famous announcement after the breakup: "Hell will freeze over before we play together again."
The 32-year-old band has been delivering multiplatinum hits with surgical precision to sell-out crowds without breaking new ground. But it's hard to miss with hits such as "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "Lyin' Eyes," "Heartache Tonight," "Life in the Fast Lane" and "Hotel California" when you've played them so many times.
COURTESY PF BENTLEY
Former Eagles guitarist-singer Don Felder and the "new guy in the band" Joe Walsh share a moment on stage at the band's 1976 Honolulu concert.
The Eagles have often been criticized for a lack of risk-taking, but people come to these concerts to hear the classic songs performed the way they remember them, not to see new versions.
Walsh, 55, even has taken to wearing a flashy, psychedelic jacket in concert, and a "helmet cam," flashing shots of the crowd onto a wide video screen that hangs above the stage.
The band's early music was a hybrid of country and bluegrass instrumentation grafted onto the harmonies of California surfer rock. Their music included tender ballads and soft, country-flavored pop-rock about relationships, cars and the wandering life.
Henley and Frey founded the band in 1971 with bass player Randy Meisner and country guitarist Bernie Leadon. Four became five when guitarist Don Felder joined them during the recording of "On the Border" in 1975.
A year later, Leadon was replaced by Walsh, not only giving the band a higher profile, but the music a harder edge. This difference was illustrated immediately on Walsh's Eagles debut, "Hotel California," critically regarded as the band's best and one of the greatest in rock.
COURTESY ELISSA JOSEPHSON
The Eagles -- Timothy B. Schmit, left, Joe Walsh, Don Henley and Glenn Frey -- today, don't have plans to disband.
The Eagles took the country-rock sounds of groups such as the Flying Burrito Brothers and the latter-day Byrds and brought them to the masses with songs like "Best of My Love," "One of These Nights" and "Heartache Tonight."
In 1979, Randy Meisner was replaced with Schmit. The following year, the Eagles split up.
Fourteen years later, hell froze over and the Eagles made a spectacular comeback. Henley and Frey made it clear that this was not a reunion of the original lineup, but a continuation of the last one. Several tours followed until finally Felder was left out over legal reasons, and once again the Eagles became four.
The typical Eagles concert has run 2 1/2 hours, featuring a 27-song show. In the middle of that set list is the hit "Take It to the Limit," which seems to reflect not only current ticket prices, but also souvenir sales. Sell-out crowds don't seem to mind paying up to $50 for an Eagles T-shirt, $20 for a program or $120 for an unlined denim jacket.
This year, the band did 10 shows at the Anaheim Pond, interspersed with five more at Los Angeles' Staples Center. No one has headlined that many arena shows all at once in 20 years -- since Prince and Bruce Springsteen were at their commercial peaks. The impetus for shelling out triple digits for veteran performers is obvious: This might be the last chance to ever see these guys.
Not a chance.
Singer-guitarist Frey has been telling audiences, "We're already planning 'Farewell VI' for summer 2009."
The Eagles' History
Don Henley and Glenn Frey found the Eagles, joined by bass player Randy Meisner and country guitarist Bernie Leadon.
1972: Debut album, "Eagles," is released, earning U.S. sales of 1 million copies
1973: The album "Desperado" sells 2 million.
1974: "On the Border" sells another 2 million.
1975: "One of These Nights" takes a new, aggressive rock stance. Between the album and the subsequent tour, Leadon leaves the group, to be replaced by Joe Walsh, a rock soloist in his own right. The album's title track hits No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100.
1976: "Greatest Hits (1971-1975)" becomes the biggest-selling album in U.S. history at more than 28 million copies (it remains just behind Michael Jackson's "Thriller" as the best-selling ever). "Hotel California" comes out late in the year.
1977: "New Kid in Town" and "Life in the Fast Lane," both from "Hotel California," both reach No. 1. Meisner leaves the band, to be replaced by Timothy B. Schmit.
1978: Work begins on "The Long Run," which takes two years to complete and yields the band's last No. 1 single, "Heartache Tonight."
1980: Henley is arrested for drug possession, intensifying conflict within the band. After "The Long Run" tour, the band breaks up, and all embark on solo careers.
1993: An Eagles country tribute album, "Common Thread," is released.
1994: The band reunites and embarks on the "Hell Freezes Over" tour. A live album and a single, "Get Over It," are released.
1998: The Eagles are inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.