The two artists Glenn Frey didn’t enjoy touring with

One of the biggest hurdles every band faces is the challenge of being an opening act. Since the audience typically buys a ticket to see the headliner, the support act must ensure every song in the set is bulletproof, hoping to win over new fans who will leave wanting to hear more of your music. However, not every great tour lineup made perfect sense. Glenn Frey recalled having a rough experience touring with Edgar Winter and Jethro Tull.

Granted, the Eagles were never exactly known for their engaging live performances. In fact, half the reason why Don Henley claimed that they had a hard time adjusting to MTV was because of their reputation of “loitering” onstage. No one wanted to hear someone sitting down singing a song, and Jethro Tull was definitely going to be a tough act to live up to.

Outside of being one of the biggest names in progressive rock, Ian Anderson was known to put more than a little bit of theatricality into every single show, usually hamming it up with his flute in hand. If that wasn’t bad enough, just look at Edgar Winter and the multiple instruments he managed to annihilate every night.

Going back and looking at footage from songs like ‘Frankenstein’, Winter flies up and down nearly any instrument he can get his hands on, going from the drums to keyboards to saxophone, all while singing half of his material. So, with all that in mind, how the hell were fans going to be treated to the smooth, easy-listening stylings of tracks such as ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and ‘Desperado’?

Frey sure as hell didn’t know why the group even bothered getting books on these tours, telling PBS, “We opened for Jethro Tull and Edgar Winter. A lot of loud bands and we were in an opening act with one hit record and half empty houses. It wasn’t exactly compatible booking, but it did toughen us up a little bit.”

Then again, there’s a good chance that some of their heroes probably wouldn’t have let the band on the bill, with Frey recalling in History of the Eagles, “I’m pretty sure someone told Stephen Stills what he thought of the Eagles and all he said was, ‘They just wanted to be us.’” That tough upbringing does give outfits that rough exterior once they get to the major leagues.

By the time the California rockers started to see major success off the back of albums like Hotel California, they had turned their meagre folk-country rock act into an entire experience, featuring the backdrop of the foreboding hotel behind them and Joe Walsh adding levity to the situation with one incredible guitar solo after another.

They were still not moving a muscle aside from playing their instruments, but once they built up their repertoire, it didn’t really seem to matter anymore. The entire music industry may have started leaning towards the sounds of punk and new wave, but there was more than enough room for songs like ‘Life in the Fast Lane’ on the radio as well.

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