20 Years Ago: The Eagles Release ‘Hell Freezes Over’
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The Eagles‘ first reunion tour was a major shock to the music world who never thought they would play together again. But their next step was more in line with what every other band has done in such a situation. On Nov. 8, 1994, they released ‘Hell Freezes Over.’
The initial end of the band came with an epic meltdown at a show in Long Beach, California – now and forever referred to as the ‘Long Night at Wrong Beach’ – on July 31, 1980 when Don Felder and Glenn Frey almost came to physical blows. Frey took issue with Felder smarmily replying back to Sen. Alan Cranston with, “You’re welcome….I guess,” after he was thanked for agreeing to perform a show in his honor.
Though they kept it quiet for many months afterward, the Eagles were done. Don Henley was categorical, citing the old adage that the band would get back together when hell freezes over. Speaking to People Magazine in 1982, Frey remarked, “I just rule out the possibility of putting the Eagles back together for a Lost Youth and Greed tour.”
Time, as the old saying goes, can heal all wounds. Four months after appearing in the video for Travis Tritt‘s cover of ‘Take It Easy,’ Henley, Frey, Felder, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit agreed to perform live together for the first time in 14 years. A film studio in Burbank, CA, was booked and over two days in April 1994, the Eagles recorded an MTV special, which resulted in the 11 live tracks found on ‘Hell Freezes Over.’
The album contained fresh takes on their classics, which included recasting ‘Hotel California’ with acoustic guitars and Latin percussion. But the icing on the cake was the inclusion of four new studio songs, ‘Get Over It,’ ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive,’ ‘The Girl from Yesterday’ and ‘Learn to Be Still.’
Timed perfectly to coincide with the holiday season, the project ended up being a huge success, topping the charts for two weeks. Ultimately the album sold more than nine million copies, and the video, which had live versions of the new songs, selling an extra 800,000. ‘Get Over It,’ ‘Love Will Keep Us Alive’ and ‘Learn to Be Still’ received considerable airplay at Top 40, Mainstream Rock and Adult Contemporary radio, and ‘The Girl from Yesterday’ reached the Country charts.
The tour, which began a month after the special was recorded, ended up becoming one of the most notable and financially successful in the history of rock music. Over three years from 1994 to 1996 the band played 160 shows across the world setting box office records at nearly every stop along the way.