Randy Meisner, Eagles Founding Member, Dead at 77

The bassist co-wrote and sang one of the band's biggest hits, 'Take It to the Limit'

Randy Meisner

Randy Meisner, a founding member of The Eagles, has died. The bassist and singer, who co-wrote and sang “Take It to the Limit,” was 77.

Meisner died due to complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) Wednesday night, the band announced Thursday.

“Randy was an integral part of the Eagles and instrumental in the early success of the band,” the group said in a brief statement. “His vocal range was astonishing, as is evident on his signature ballad, ‘Take It to the Limit.’ “

Funeral arrangements are pending, the band added.

The Nebraska native co-founded The Eagles in 1971 with Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Bernie Leadon, after playing with the country-rock band Poco and Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band.

Meisner was primarily the band’s bassist but did write and sing several classic tracks on their albums. Meisner’s biggest hit with the band was “Take It to the Limit,” released as the third single from their 1975 album One of These Nights.

Photo of Glenn FREY and Joe WALSH and Don HENLEY and Don FELDER and EAGLES and Randy MEISNER
Don Felder, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey, and Randy Meisner.RB/REDFERNS

Meisner left the band after they recorded Hotel California in 1976. He chose to skip the tour to promote the record. “I could have tripled my money if I’d stayed,” Meisner told PEOPLE in 1981. “But I was just tired of the touring. It’s a crazy life that you live at twice the normal speed. When it got to the point of sanity or money… I thought I’d rather have sanity.”

While the Eagles reunited in 1994, Meisner was reportedly not invited. He did perform with the band at their 1998 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony and was invited to join their 2013 world tour. He did not attend due to his declining health. In 2016, Meisner said the band helped pay for his medical care.

The musician was married twice, first to Jennifer Lee Barton — with whom he shares three children — from 1963 to 1981, and then to Lana Rae from 1996 until her death in 2016. Lana accidentally shot and killed herself in March 2016. Authorities determined Meisner was not involved in the shooting.

Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, Don Felder
Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, and Don Felder.EVERETT COLLECTION INC/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO

In a 2016 interview with Rock Cellar Magazine, Meisner reflected on the band’s legacy and how their music overcame rock critics.

“It’s just good to know that kids nowadays are listening to it. It’s long-standing music. They’re good songs,” he said. “The lyrics are really good and the way that they were produced and the way that we played them. That’s why on Hotel California we were so precise and wanting to make it so perfect. We made sure we got it so good.”

Meisner’s death comes just weeks after the surviving Eagles members announced plans to tour one last time. Their “Long Goodbye” tour will start on Sept. 7, 2023. The band’s roster now includes Henley, Vince Gill, and Timothy B. Schmidt, who replaced Meisner in the Eagles in 1976. Deacon Frey, son of the late Frey, will join them. Frey died in 2016 at 67 years old.

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