Randy Meisner, the founding bassist of the Eagles and the vocalist behind their 1976 hit “Take It to the Limit,” has died. The Eagles confirmed the news, noting his cause of death as complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 77.
Born in 1946 in Nebraska, Meisner sang and played bass in Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band and helped found the seminal country rock outfit Poco before forming the Eagles in 1971 with Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Bernie Leadon. Meisner connected with Frey and Henley when producer John Boylan brought him in to join them as backing musicians for Linda Rondstadt.
As Rondstadt told Billboard in 2016, some of the Eagles’ earliest rehearsal sessions occurred under her roof. “I remember coming home one day and they had rehearsed ‘Witchy Woman’ and they had all the harmonies worked out, four-part harmonies,” she said. “It was fantastic. I knew it was gonna be a hit. You could just tell.”
Meisner recorded five albums with the Eagles—their self-titled debut, Desperado, On the Border, One of These Nights, and Hotel California—before leaving the group in 1977, after which he was succeeded by Timothy B. Schmit (notably, Schmit also replaced Meisner when he left Poco). Meisner went on to release three solo albums: 1978’s Randy Meisner, 1980’s One More Song, and another self-titled project in 1982. Alongside his Eagles bandmates, Meisner was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
“Randy was an integral part of the Eagles and instrumental in the early success of the band,” the Eagles shared in their statement. “His vocal range was astonishing, as is evident on his signature ballad, ‘Take It to the Limit.’” The One of These Nights track, which Meisner also co-wrote, spent 23 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100; it currently stands as the Eagles longest-enduring hit on the chart.