Friday, September 21, 2012

Bernie Leadon

Bernie Leadon
Bernard Mathew "Bernie" Leadon, III (born July 19, 1947, in Minneapolis, Minnesota), is an American musician and songwriter, best known as a founding member of the Eagles. Prior to the Eagles, he was a member of two pioneering and highly influential country rock bands, Dillard & Clark and the Flying Burrito Brothers. He is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, dobro) coming from a bluegrass background. He introduced elements of this music to a mainstream audience during his tenure with the Eagles.

Leadon's music career since leaving the Eagles has been decidedly low-key, resulting in merely two solo albums with a gap of 27 years in between. Leadon is, however, a noted session musician who has appeared as a guest on many other artists' records.eadon was the last member to join the Eagles, a band initially formed by guitarist/singer Glenn Frey, drummer/singer Don Henley, and former Poco bassist/singer Randy Meisner. Leadon is often credited with helping shape the band's early country-rock sound, bringing his strong sense of harmony as well as his country, bluegrass and acoustic sensibilities to the group.

Upon the release of their debut album, Eagles, the group met with near instantaneous success, due largely to the strength of their hit singles, "Take It Easy", "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "Witchy Woman" (co-written by Leadon and Henley), all of which highlighted Leadon's multi-instrumental talent on electric guitar, B-Bender, banjo, and harmony vocals. Their follow-up, Desperado, was another strong country-rock venture highlighted by the classics "Tequila Sunrise" and the title track, but was met by surprisingly lukewarm reviews and lackluster sales. As a result, the band attempted to distance itself from the "country rock" label for their third album On the Border. In doing so, Leadon encouraged the group to recruit his old friend, guitarist Don Felder, to the band. The result was the guitar-heavy top ten hit "Already Gone". The album also included "My Man", Leadon's touching tribute to his old bandmate and friend, Gram Parsons, who had died of a drug overdose the year prior at Joshua Tree National Park in southeastern California.

With the wild success of On the Border and its follow-up smash, One of These Nights, tension within the band grew, as Leadon grew increasingly frustrated by the band's direction away from his beloved country and bluegrass and toward AOR stadium rock. He famously quit the band in 1975 by pouring a beer over Glenn Frey's head.[1] He later cited a need to get healthy and break the vicious cycle of touring, recording and heavy drug use that was rampant within the band.

Upon his departure, Asylum Records released Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975), which highlighted the band's Leadon years and went on to become the biggest-selling greatest hits album of all time, selling over 42 million units. He was replaced by former James Gang guitarist/singer, Joe Walsh.

Leadon was a huge force in the early sound of the Eagles. He played lead guitar, acoustic, banjo, and pedal steel guitar, among other things. He also wrote/co-wrote many Eagles songs such as "Earlybird", "Train Leaves Here This Morning", "Bitter Creek", "My Man", "Journey of the Sorcerer", "Witchy Woman", "On the Border" and others...some with his brother Tom Leadon.

While the only hit with Leadon as a writer was "Witchy Woman", he was nonetheless a very important part of the band's sound. However, conflicts about the band's direction as well as personality clashes led to Leadon leaving the band in December 1975 after completing and touring for the Eagles' fourth studio album, One of These Nights. He was replaced by Joe Walsh as the band moved towards a harder rock sound.

Afterwards, Leadon went on towards a more country sound. His first post-Eagles album was Natural Progressions (1977), done with his best friend Michael Georgiades. After this album, Leadon largely stayed behind the scenes, contributing to other's albums or taking a lower profile role in other bands. He played a stint with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, produced bands such as Restless Heart and their hit "I'll Still Be Loving You", and in the nineties formed a group called Run C&W that spoofed "modern" music by rercording it with a country/bluegrass sound.

In 1998, Leadon temporarily reunited with all the members past and present of the Eagles in New York City for the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame. They performed two songs: "Take It Easy" and "Hotel California" (although Leadon was not in the Eagles when the latter was released).

Leadon released his second solo album Mirror in 2004, 27 years after the release of his first. He continues to perform, mostly at corporate events and private shows.

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