After Eagles‘spectacular implosion in 1980 the band’s former members – especially the main songwriters Don Henley and Glenn Frey — were eager to put the past behind them and stand on their own two feet as solo artists. So they weren’t too happy when they suddenly had to compete with their past on the release of Eagles Greatest Hits Volume 2 on Nov. 13, 1982.
You can’t blame Asylum Records for wanting to milk their now defunct cash cow. The Eagles were in their imperial phase in the second half of the 70s, bolstered by 1976’s stratospheric Hotel California and its flawed (but still massive) follow-up, the 1979s The long run. Even the autopsy, contractually required Eagles Livereleased in November 1980, went platinum within two months.
And, of course, the best compilations had already proved to be a lucrative game for the band when 1976’s Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) achieved the first ever RIAA platinum certification and became the best-selling album of all time in the US, with sales of over 38 million.
Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) drew a line between the Eagles’ country-rock origins and their hedonistic, harder-rocking second act. It only made sense to commemorate the second act, especially with Hotel California functions as a veritable greatest-hit in itself. So it was no surprise that eight of the 10 tracks are on Greatest Hits Volume 2 was taken from the band’s two most recent studio albums up to that point, rounded off Eagles Live“Seven Bridges Road” and the pointed album “After the Thrill Is Gone”, from 1975 One of these nights.
It was also fortuitous timing as Frey had released his debut solo album, No fun out loud, in May 1982. The LP went gold on the strength of two Top 40 singles, “I Found Somebody” and “The One You Love.” Henley’s solo arc, I can’t stand stillfollowed in August 1982 and fared even better thanks to the smash single “Dirty clothes,” which peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and pushed the album to sales of around 700,000.
Listen to Eagles’ ‘Seven Bridges Road’
Those debut album figures would have been cause for celebration for most artists, but Henley and Frey weren’t most artists; they were former members of one of the best-selling rock bands in history, and they felt they still had more to prove. “I sold 650,000 copies or something, which is respectable, I think, for a first album,” Henley shared Analog planet about I can’t stand still. “I had a gold album and a gold single…I was moderate satisfied.”
That satisfaction suffocated to frustration when Eagles Greatest Hits Volume 2 hit the shelves just in time for the holidays, without the consultation or consent of either Frey or Henley. With its anonymous cover art (a vinyl record repurposed as a shooting target) and its careless track listing, it bore all the telltale signs of a hastily assembled cash-grab label.
And it worked.
“Don and Glenn were now competing on the charts against Eagles Greatest Hits Volume 2released by Asylum/Elektra in time for the 1982 Christmas market, cobbled together from Hotel California and The long run“, former Eagles guitarist Don Felder explained in his 2007 memoir Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001). “Despite its lack of direct involvement with the band, it far outsold both solo albums. It was a tough act to follow.”
It didn’t help that Frey and Henley, who chose to be literally faceless during the Eagles’ zenith, now had to go up against such a familiar brand. “The problem was, after years of keeping our names out of the papers and our faces off Eagles album covers in favor of artist Boyd Elder’s incredible decorative cattle skulls, no one really knew who Don Henley and Glenn Frey were—or any of us, for that matter for the sake of it,” Felder wrote. “For years we’d been able to walk around LA, into restaurants, clubs and theaters and blend anonymously into the crowd. That’s one of the great advantages of being an eagle. No one knows how we saw out.”
Though Eagles Greatest Hits Volume 2 only reaching No. 52 on the Billboard 200, it had a long shelf life and was eventually certified 11 times platinum by the RIAA. Still, its popularity wouldn’t inspire the Eagles to kiss and make up—at least not for a while. When asked in 1980 if his old band would reunite, Henley famously replied, “Yes, of course, when hell freezes over.” His joke inspired the band’s title 1994 live reunion albumtheir first release since Greatest Hits Volume 2.
Eagles Albums Ranked
The Eagles have been rightly praised for their clever combination of Glenn Frey’s big-city R&B with Don Henley’s country-fried rockabilly.