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The Eagles land at Sundance with new documentary of 41-year run

January 24th, 2013 Posted in Arts and Life

Story & Photo by Ben Hansen

PARK CITY—For more than a decade, the Sundance Film Festival has been a popular scene for concerts and movies featuring musicians, with artists and bands such as Sammy Hagar, Metallica, Slash and U2 headlining at the annual arts fest. Sundance 2013 continues that tradition, with the top-selling American band of all time, The Eagles, launching their documentary “The History of the Eagles: Part 1” during the opening weekend.


The Eagles have been making music for 41 years. From left, Don Henley, Glen Frey, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt were on hand at Sundance over the weekend for the premier of the band’s documentary. BEN HANSEN photo

Formed in Los Angeles on 1971, the original Eagles included Don Henley, Glen Frey, Bearnie Leadon and Randy Meisner. By 1977, Leadon and Meisner had left the band, replaced by Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt, who are still members. The group disbanded in 1980, and a 14-year hiatus followed until their aptly named Hell Freezes Over tour and live album, both met with critical acclaim.

In 2007, the Eagle released “The Long Road Out of Eden,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 chart, also marking the band’s first album of entirely new studio material in 18 years. Over the past 41 years, the Eagles have sold more than 100 million albums in the United States alone, collecting several Grammy Awards, American Music Awards, and releasing six No. 1-selling albums.

Rolling Stone Q&A

It would have been easy to play it safe with their movie documentary, since the band has amassed such a deep catalog of hits and endearing moments from their glory years. The typical rock documentary strings together a series of “greatest events,” and the Eagles’ could easily have done the same. While there are plenty of these moments in the “History: Part 1,” the band also utilized 40-year-old footage, current interviews, and Academy Award-winning documentary producer Alex Gibney in an attempt to make the film something truly memorable.

The end result is a mixture of elements that will appeal to a broad audience. Younger fans and music lovers who are not as familiar with the band’s rich history will be able to see what made them the biggest band in American history. The hardcore fan, meanwhile, should be elated at the opportunity  to see new video that has previously been unreleased.

At this point, the Eagles have already released two greatest hits albums, with the first, Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975, the best-selling album in U.S. history. Could a final two-part video documentary chronicling deeper parts of the band’s history be the beginning of their final chapter?

At the red carpet premier showing of the movie Saturday night, Eagle leadman Don Henley cryptically stated, “We are looking to do a history of the Eagles tour, which will begin probably in June and go for a couple of years all around the world. Then that may be enough. Who knows?”

“History of the Eagles, Parts 1 and 2,” will make its mainstream debut on Showtime Feb. 16 and 17.


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