Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Longbranch-Pennywhistle, 1966


Longbranch Pennywhistle was a band established in 1966 by Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther, when Frey was just 18 years old. The duo played more than a handful of gigs at Doug Weston's Troubadour in Los Angeles, beating even The Byrds and Buffalo Springfield to the punch.  Frey and Souther had met earlier that year at an L.A. coffeehouse, introduced by their girlfriends, who were sisters. Before year's end, Longbranch Pennywhistle played McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica, and, feeling confident and invincible, approached Jimmy Bowen, who had just started Amos Records. Bowen said their sound reminded him of early Everly Brothers, and wanted them so badly he offered a West Hollywood apartment and a piece of Amos' publishing rights to sign with the fledgling label.

Frey and Souther
After the LP's release to only moderate sales, Frey and Souther ran headlong into that old curmudgeon, creative differences. The label wanted them to cover well-known songs by established writers; J.D. and Glenn wanted to become established writers, whose songs would be covered by other people. Quickly the duo departed Amos Records, with producer, David Briggs, going on to oversee Neil Young's Everyone Knows This is Nowhere, and After the Gold Rush.

Souther would begin a successful solo career, signing with Elektra in 1972, but continued his relationship with Frey (and ultimately with The Eagles), co-writing several Eagles' standards (most notably, "Best of My Love," "New Kid in Town" and "Victim of Love") and joining the band for the 1980 tour (which would be their last until the reunion in 1994).

In 1970, Don Henley moved to L.A. with his band Shiloh and also signed with the Amos label (with Kenny Rogers as producer). Along with Frey, Randy Meisner (of Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band) and Bernie Leadon (from The Flying Burrito Brothers) were recruited by Linda Ronstadt as her back-up band for the Silk Purse tour. The foursome backing Ronstadt played only one gig (at Disneyland), but were featured on all tracks for her forthcoming eponymous studio LP.

In 1971, the newly created Eagles signed with David Geffin’s upstart label, Asylum. The band's first album, Eagles, released in '72, had three monster hits, "Take It Easy" (co-written by Jackson Browne), "Witchy Woman," and "Peaceful, Easy Feeling." Before the end of the decade, [The] Eagles would become one of the best-selling artists in the world, with Hotel California selling more than 20 million units (their greatest hits compilation ranks as the 6th biggest selling LP with over 32 million copies sold).