Three weeks ago in Hartford, Connecticut, I caught the Eagles for the first time in 35 years. This band is still at the top of its game.
From day one The Eagles approached their career differently from other LA bands I knew—which I remember well because I was scuffling around the Troubadour coffeehouse when the band first started playing the "Hootenanny" open mics there in the early 70s.
After so many promising country rock bands had run aground (including Poco and The Flying Burrito Brothers) the Eagles—and especially their leader Glenn Frey—were determined to do it the right way and become a major brand. (Warning: a business lesson is on its way.)
Frey wanted a band that had all the ingredients for success. “Everybody had to look good, sing good, play good, and write good. We wanted it all. Peer respect. AM & FM success. No 1 singles and albums, great music, and a lot of money.”
Such a crass pursuit of fame and fortune was somewhat at odds with the artistic ethos of the place and time, but the Eagles, to their credit, were determined to make their original songs the centerpiece of the package, which turned out to be their strong suit for the next 44 years, giving us hits like, “Best of My Love,” “New Kid in Town,” and “Hotel California.” This was a songwriter's band.
But their organizing principle was first and foremost to be a commercial powerhouse. They set their sights high and were amazingly disciplined in their pursuit of their goals. “Discipline” is not a word one usually associates with rock music, but in their own way all the great bands were disciplined. And ambitious—as I wrote about in detail eight years ago here. (The Eagles did have their share of interpersonal conflict, which broke the band up for nearly 15 years and led Glenn Frey and Don Henley to take control of the group. But the current musicians seem content with their role in the band.)
One of the differentiators of successful business teams is being mission-driven and result-focused. (And the bigger the game you’re playing the more likely you’ll have team members psyched to play it.)
In the case of the Eagles, it's been mission accomplished.