Exclusive Rock History Book Interview with Former Eagles Randy Meisner
John Beaudin - Hi Randy, it's nice to talk to you. We built a section on the site so I can talk to whoever I want to!
Randy Meisner - Well, then I'm glad you chose me, thank you.
John - Where are you by the way?
Randy - Studio City Los Angeles. It's right across from Universal City.
John - What are you up to these days?
Randy - I'm working with a group called W.C.R. which stands for World Classic Rockers.
John - You guys changed the line-up of the band, right? I noticed you sometimes play with Fergie Frederiksen , former lead singer of Toto.
Randy - Yeah, it changes sometimes. There was Spencer Davis, Nick St Nicholas who was with Steppenwolf, Ron Wikso from Foreigner on Drums and Denny Laine from Wings. We've been together for a while now maybe four to five years. We do mostly corporate dates.
John - When you say corporate dates, do you mean for major companies?
Randy - Yes, like Nortel and different corporations. The great thing is with this band every song is a hit. With corporate people they might hire a band and they may have three hits and maybe their other songs might not be as good as their hits but this thing just keeps growing and it is so good. We have had a great response from everyone we have played for.
John - I listened to a clip of the album you released with the live versions of things you released with the band and "Take It to the Limit' is on there. What else do you do with the band besides singing lead?
Randy - Well, it depends on the dates. Sometimes Spencer has other work that he does and that is what is great about the group because we can come in and go as we please. As far as songs I do with the Eagles I normally sing "Take it Easy,' "Already Gone,' 'Hearts on Fire,' from my solo album. We also do "Hotel California' and we have Fergie come up and sing that lead.
John - That is on the album isn't it?
Randy - Yes and the album was done when we had different drummers and stuff because we worked with Bruce Gary for a while which is from 'The Knack,' My Sharona. He is a great drummer but things changed and now we have Ron Wikso playing drums from Foreigner. It is like going back in time, it really is and it is so much fun!
John - It must be kind of fun to know that you are playing with these guys but if you want to take some time off you really can, like you said players come and go.
Randy - Yes, just with Spencer and I since Spencer has other dates on his own. Basically just as far as traveling, I told him in the beginning that I wanted to be with the group. There is a certain time that I need at home because with the Eagles and stuff I was on the road so much. Now if my wife can't come along, I am not happy. (Laughing) She has her own business and there are certain weekdays that she can't come along and its like I want to do it but I have the option. The thing is the band is for everybody and everybody loves each other and there is no jealously or anything.
John - I was looking at the pictures on the net and
it sounds like you guys are having a hoot!
John - Oh, still some of that happening, huh?
Randy - Do you know what I am watching right now?
John - What?
Randy - I live in the hills in Studio City and my wife and I feed deer every night. There are two little fawns up here and they are spotted and they are twins. We have been feeding them for 14 years, since we moved up here. It is just so neat I just had to say that. We feed them and they come up every night and they trust us. You have to build trust in animals.
John - You know it is interesting that you should say that because if you look at a stereotypical view I think of anybody that is looking at some one who was with Poco and The Eagles they probably think he is sitting on his porch feeding deer and now you are doing it!Randy - These little guys are so cute and altogether the animals we feed we have seen three skunk families raise their children. Everyone says they stink but they are the cutest little things in the world.
John - Do you have a lot of privacy where you live?
Randy - Very much so. I am on a little street that has a drive-way that comes to my house and there is a dead end and below my house is a lot of land and it is like in the mountains towards Universal city where you really can't build on the hills. So, I leave my gates open for the deer and the animals and we feed them every night. It is like six feet from us and I think animals are the most wonderful things in the world.
John - Wow, talk about getting close to nature which is kind of important! Do you ever have something coming up to your door that maybe you don't want coming to your door that could eat you or something? (Laughing)
Randy - (Laughing) Well, we have had a bobcat come up here but I just consider them beautiful animals. The thing is we take pictures because people do not believe us like in Hollywood Hills that there could be that many animals. Believe me over the last fourteen years we have built so much trust with them. We can watch them or put food out while they are eating and they don't even move.
John - Do you still collect cars?
Randy - Oh God! I had a whole bunch of real ones around eight years ago. I had about twenty three cars antiques, mostly Fords. They were in Nebraska and I had a storage place for them there.
John - You are from Nebraska, right?
Randy -Yes I am and I grew up on a farm so that is why I like my privacy. I sold all of my cars and kept a little 44 pick-up and it is all restored. It has a little V-8, 85 in it with duel and fifteen inch tires and that is all I have done. It is just like perfection!
John - Who restores them, is it you or someone you know?
Randy - I didn't restore this one, my cousin did and he went to Cal. State and a friend of his took this thing down to the frame and did it as an art project. So every bolt in the car he saved in a bag and put it back in the same spot. So, rather than sand the parts down he brought them to a place in Pasadena, California. He put the body and the fenders of the pick-up in a solution that takes the paint off without taking the metal away. There was a guy that worked at an old Ford dealership who painted it in this old enamel before they stocked the paint. It is just my little pride and joy!
John - I know you owned Porsche's and were they vintage or new?
Randy - I had an old one and I wrecked it like a dummy. It was like a 914 from Germany and I think it was a 73. I just had all kinds of money in it and I was just getting ready to get it painted. I had the engine all rebuilt and everything and what a fast little car and it just ended up in a wreck. When it was totaled I was so sad. I worked on that car for three years.
John - Well, just like the Buddhists would say it is all about impermanence you just have to let it go, I guess! (Laughing)
Randy - (Laughing) Yeah, it is only material.
John - When you were with The Eagles were you into cars then?
Randy - Oh yeah, I have always been. I actually have a model collection that is over fifteen hundred cars. When I was in high school I use to build cars like modifying little 44's with the guys that I knew. What I use to do is I'd buy model kits like AMT's and build them by memory and it has always been a lot of fun for me and now I have all these models in my house.
John - Where do you find the room in your house to put them?
Randy - (laughing) Well, the house is full plus my wife and I collect antiques. We go to auctions all the time and get all this stuff and now it is like we kinda have to build another room in the house.
John - Do you get recognized when you go to auctions?
Randy - Not too much anymore but there used to be a time when that always happened.
John - Did that drive you crazy?
Randy - No, it is like part of your gig. They are the fans and they are the ones that make you. When I was with the Eagles like in Japan I remember these people would come up and they would want autographs and so they would have an album sitting out. (Laughing) I would go to sign it and they would have about twelve of them layered so it looked like one. It was like 'kachunk' like a little shutter thing and could I sign this too. (Laughing) I would just stand there signing all night and I would sign every one of them. You know there were all these people who came and wanted my autograph and I really appreciated that because they are fans and that is what makes us!
John - Well, that is a good attitude but I have to say I only hear that half the time. What I hear a lot of is, "Why won't these people leave me alone!" Some of the people I have talked to are almost bitter and angry at their own fame. When you and I were growing up, especially in the era we grew up in, we all wanted to be rock stars. Of course that came to fruition for you.
Randy - Yeah, it is like a dream. I can tell you
this every week I get about two or three
letters from young kids all over the U.S.
and all they want is an autographed picture.
It is amazing and I don't know if their
parents tell them to do it but The Eagles
played so many gigs that we have seen kids
fifteen and sixteen years old singing all
the lyrics. It just really makes you feel
good and that they are appreciating what
I did and the work we do.
Randy - I know and I finally received that award. When they originally presented it Bernie Leadon and I weren't even notified so we had to call and we finally received it. When I quit it was like Timothy Schmit joined the group and it was like Timothy was the guy now and I can't blame them for that. All that stuff and all the arguing amongst The Eagles is over now. Well at least for me.
John- Do you still hang out with Don Henley and Glen Frey?
Randy - Well, not really.
John - But you played with them when you were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.Randy - It was fun and we got to go on stage together, Bernie and I and the whole group. I got up to speak and I am not very good at that it was like blah, blah, blah.
ohn - When you were starting out was Poco your first big gig?
Randy - I did that first album with them 'Picking
Up the Pieces' and then there was a thing
where Richie Furay and I we made the album
and then I called in and said, "I want
to come down and listen to the mixes."
Richie for some reason thought he and Jimmy
Messina should just do it alone. I said,
"If that is the way it is going to
be then I don't feel like a member of the
band," and Richie said, "Okay,
and you quit kind of thing." So then
I left. (Laughing) It was just as simple
as that. Then I went back to Nebraska and
worked with a friend of mine who owned a
John Deer dealership. I was like a parts
man for eight months and then Ricky Nelson
called me and I played with him for a while.
They were doing Rudy the Fifth and I was
playing from nine to one in the morning
and then getting to work at John Deer later
and later every day. Pretty soon Ricky called
and asked if I could come out and do a few
songs and he said, "We want to hear
your bass playing." So I came out and
then it started all over again. Then I started
playing with Linda
Ronstadt and Glen Fry and Don Henley
that was after Poco.
Randy - Well, I didn't want to let Ricky down so I got a friend of mine Steve Love who was also in my band. I told Rick that he was a great singer, he could sing the high parts and he is a great guitarist and he can play bass anytime he wants. Steve got that job so I didn't let Rick down. Then I went on with Don (Henley) and Glen (Frey).
John - Bernie came from the Burrito Brother's right?
Randy - Yeah, he did and it was around that time too.
John - Do you remember the first gig you played with the other guys in the Eagle's?
Randy - Yeah, it was the first time I played with Linda Ronstadt in San Jose, California and it was so much fun playing with Don and Glen. (Laughing) That was when it all started. Don and Glen knew me from Poco and Glen came from a group called Longbranch Pennywhistle with J.D. Souther. Henley came from a group out of Texas called Shiloh. So, that is how we all met and for me it all started with them noticing me in Poco. Then David Geffen got involved once we were already together.
John - Had you talked to Rick (Nelson) anytime before his death?
Randy - Yes, it was about eight months before that happened. At the time I wasn't married and his girlfriend and my girlfriend were friends. We got to see Rick and we went out a couple of times and just hung out. All I can say is Rick was a great guy, he was extremely funny and a lot of people don't know that about him.
John - You know what I kept hearing about him is in spite of the fact that he had been in show business from the time he was a little boy he was still an unpretentious guy.
Randy - Exactly that is what I was trying to say. (Laughing) Yeah, he was always a regular guy and always a lot of fun.
John - He could have easily been a child actor casualty.
Randy - That certainly didn't happen to him and I never saw that in him. I loved that man.
John - Were you involved in the reunion album with Poco?
Randy - Yes, I was and that was like seven or eight years ago.
John - Was that fun for you?
Randy - It wasn't very good. (Laughing) I had done some recording with Richard Marx and he wrote a song for me. Then we all got back together and it was really fun actually. Let me tell you what really happened. This was going down around the time of the Persian Gulf War and our management had arranged all these things on military bases. We had all this merchandising to sell and when we got to all these army bases we were playing to empty crowds because all the troops were in the Persian Gulf. After that we played a few more things but I ended up paying all this money for merchandising rather than making money on it. We did make a record and I thought it was good. Richie Furay is a minister in Boulder, Colorado. So, when we went out we had to change our lyrics like on the song "Hearts on Fire" we had to change the line "I had myself a tall one waiting in the bar I didn't want to leave here until I had her in the car" it got to Richie. I had to respect Richie but one night we were playing in Toronto and the crowd was really good and I sang the original lyric and Richie got kind of upset about that. Also, Jimmy Messina couldn't sing "I had her in the backseat" on his song. I really got frustrated with that because we weren't singing the original lyrics of these songs so I left. We did finish the tour but I didn't make a penny. We did travel all over and we went to Europe for a month to promote this whole album. Out of a month we played twenty four days and we would get up at five in the morning, go to every radio station in Europe and plug this album. It didn't do a darn bit of good. So, I have had my road work, you know? (Laughing)
John - I remember the day when I found out that you left the Eagles I was seventeen and I was talking to one of my best friends. I was really pissed off at you for leaving and then my buddy looked at me and said, "Hey, this guy can probably live off the residuals of being in this band forever and he is going off to do his own thing and you are pissed off at him?"
Randy - I can't blame a lot of people for being mad at that. After Hotel California I had been on the road so much and I was married and going then going through a divorce. I thought this whole thing has taken its toll. When you are on the road your whole life you really don't have a normal life. There were so many books written about the Eagles that said we always bitched at each other but the bottom line is that is in the past now. I don't want to end up hating every body for the rest of my life and I won't. I look at the Eagles as just good compadres that I've worked with in the past. I have no ill will towards any of them.
John - It sounds like you are a peace with these guys?
Randy - There is a time when you got to stop bitching I am getting too old for that. (laughing)
John - Brings to mind the old saying about hate being hard on the heart.
Randy - Exactly, you got it right on the money. You will grow old fast and die quicker.
John - Do you remember exactly how you felt when you left the Eagles?
Randy - Like it was yesterday (laughing) I was pretty messed up with that divorce. Yes, I really did want to do my own thing and then I realized how much I really wanted to be in a group. All the pressure was on me as a solo artist then, every interview, every decision and everything had to be made by me. Then I realized that I didn't want to do this anymore. I bet you when Henley went out on his own he was doing the same thing working really hard. All the promotional stuff is really not me. I would rather just be playing with a bunch of good guys having a good time.