Today marks the 40th anniversary of the day that the Eagles released Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975). It’s a significant day not only for the anniversary but also because the record was the first album to ever receive a Platinum award for sales of one million or more.
The album was a “filler” to kill time between 1975’s One of These Nights and the group’s follow-up, the smash hit Hotel California. With just 10 tracks, Their Greatest Hits was lean on cuts, but it lived up to its title, including such tunes as “Best of My Love,” “One of These Nights,” “Desperado” and the song that started it all for the Eagles, “Take It Easy.”
The album shot to Number 1 and stayed there. Within a week, it had sold one million units. By the time the Recording Industry Association of America began presenting awards in 1976, Their Greatest Hits was well on its way to breaking records for album sales. As of 2016, it has sold more than 29 million copies in the U.S., just three million fewer than the top seller, Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Not bad for a “filler.”
Just 10 months after its release, the Eagles issued Hotel California, giving them another Number 1 album and two hit singles with the title track and “New Kid in Town.” “Hotel California” has since gone on to become one of the most celebrated songs in the guitar pantheon, thanks to its outro solo featuring the dual guitar talents of Joe Walsh and Don Felder.
In the video below, Walsh talks about working with Felder on creating the song’s celebrated outdo solo. Below that, you can watch Walsh and Felder perform the solo in a live clip from 1977.
“We wanted to put a layer of things on, kind of like mariachi band trumpets,” Walsh says, explaining their approach to the guitar parts. “That was the first thing we wanted to do. and we wanted to play together. We wanted to play with each other, the whole part.”
Walsh also talks about how they divided up the song’s solos and their decision to perform in unison for the ending.
“We figured at the end we would go at it,” he says. “Don Felder and I were always very competitive. We were, but it was good. We really respected each other, and we pushed each other.”
“Hotel California” presentation at NAMM, January 23, 2016
Watch the Eagles perform “Hotel California”