Flashback: The Eagles Release ‘Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975’
It was 47 years ago today (February 17th, 1976) that the Eagles’ first compilation, Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, was released. The album holds the historic distinction of being awarded the first platinum disc by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for sales of one million copies.
In 2018, the Eagles overtook Michael Jackson‘s 1982 masterpiece Thriller for bragging rights to the best-selling album of all time, according to the RIAA. Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 has now been certified 45-times Platinum, accounting for sales and streams since its February 1976 release. It was the best-selling album of the 20th century and now in 2022, it sits at Number Four on the biggest selling albums list.
Amazingly, the Eagles’ next album after the hits collection — 1976’s Hotel California — is now the seventh best-selling album of all time, having been certified 31-times Platinum by the RIAA.
Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, went on to top the Billboard 200 album charts on March 13th, 1976 for five non-consecutive weeks. The album capped the original band’s first four albums with co-founding lead guitarist Bernie Leadon, who was replaced in December 1975 by Joe Walsh.
Back in 2016, country music manager Ken Levitan explained the album’s importance to Rolling Stone, saying, “A lot of younger country musicians did experience the Eagles (through Their Greatest Hits). Every household had a copy of that record. If they didn’t hear it themselves, their parents were listening to it, so it became part of a fabric of their life. That record, and (Lynyrd) Skynyrd and Hank (Williams) Jr., influenced the whole range of country artists.”
The tracklisting to Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) is: “Take It Easy,” “Witchy Woman,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Already Gone,” “Desperado,” “One Of These Nights,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Take It To The Limit,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” and “The Best Of My Love.”
The-late Glenn Frey attributed the Eagles’ success to the bond he forged with Don Henley in 1971 when the pair was backing Linda Ronstadt on the road: “We were roommates together and we started talkin’ about our dreams. And, y’know, we were very lucky. And then, of course, as I said, when we told Linda that, y’know, that we really wanted to have our own band, then she helped us get the guys! She’s the one who said, ‘You should get Bernie Leadon.’ So, we brought him out to Disneyland for some shows were were doing on graduation nights (laughter) and Bernie sat in with us and we got to meet him over the course of a week, or so, and talk with him. A couple of weeks later, we replaced the bass player for a weekend in Los Altos with Randy Meisner, so that he’d come up and play with Linda and we could talk with him as well. So, it was really important.”
Co-founding guitarist Bernie Leadon shed some light on the band’s 1975 chart-topper, “One Of These Nights” — which was among the last songs he recorded with before quitting the band: “Cool song. This was sort of the beginning of the fourth album and the second one that Don Felder was on. Well, the band’s new producer, Bill Szymczyk, came out of R&B and had worked with B.B. King and some people. So, his drum sounds were more Philadelphia. The whole attitude was more R&B. And Henley and Frey were starting to lean more in that direction. So, ‘One Of These Nights’ has that sort of — well it’s not (laughs) disco exactly, but it’s edging in that direction, it’s edging towards disco.”
1982’s Eagles Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 was released on November 13th, 1982, and although it stalled on the Billboard charts at Number 52, the set has sold a whopping 11 million copies to date.
The Eagles recently packaged their two multi-platinum greatest hits collections together for the first time ever, with the set now renamed, Eagles Greatest Hits 1 & 2.
The Eagles perform tonight (February 17th) in Lincoln, California at Thunder Valley Casino.