The Eagles kick off their History of the Eagles world tour Saturday in Louisville, Kentucky, and Don Henley has confirmed reports that former guitarist Bernie Leadon will be joining them. "Bernie Leadon is definitely on this tour," he told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "Randy Meisner, if he were healthy and willing, might have been included, too, but his current health will not permit. We are all wishing him well."
Meisner, the group's original bassist and lead singer of their 1975 hit "Take It to the Limit," is still recovering from a choking incident earlier this year. "Randy was at home when something he was eating obstructed his breathing and he lost consciousness," Poco's Rusty Young wrote in an online note to fans in April. "[His wife] Lana rushed him to the emergency room where he got immediate care. Things are going to be a little rough for Randy for a while, but his doctors are optimistic he’ll recover from this incident. If you can, say a little prayer or just send love Randy’s way."
Outside of a two-song set at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1998, the Eagles haven't performed with Leadon since he quit the band in 1975. "I just wanted some time to regroup," Leadon told Rolling Stone in 2008. "I suggested we take some time off. They weren't excited about that idea."
It's often claimed that Leadon was unhappy the band was moving away from their country rock roots when he left, but Leadon disputes that assertion. "That's an oversimplification," he says. "It implies that I had no interest in rock or blues or anything but country rock. That's just not the case. I didn't just play Fender Telecaster. I played a Gibson Les Paul and I enjoyed rock & roll. That's evident from the early albums."
Fans hoping that the Eagles will also invite former guitarist Don Felder onto the tour are going to be disappointed. In the band's recent documentary he cried when recalling his departure from the band in 2001, but Henley was unmoved. "That was a poignant moment, for sure – if it was real," he said. "But since Mr. Felder continues to engage in legal action, of one kind or another, against us, I can't really say anything further about it."
The group has yet to reveal exactly what material they will present on this tour, but they have promised to resurrect songs they haven't touched in years. "We're building a whole new stage, lights, sound, visuals, set list," Joe Walsh told Billboard in April. "We're going to revisit a lot of old songs and do a whole new tour based around the documentary. It'll be quite an evening . . . There'll be part of the show that doesn't involve me, but I may come out and play some James Gang stuff as part of the show just to show what I was doing when 'Witchy Woman' came out."
No matter happens, Henley says this could be their last hurrah. "This could very well be our last major tour," he said. "Covering the entire globe will take us about two years. The demand has been so strong in some markets that we will have to return next year, because multiple nights at arenas just aren't available right now. Here in the States, we have to work around the schedules of the basketball and hockey teams. So, by the time we get through this tour, it'll be 2015 and we'll all be in our late 60s. It's been an incredible experience for all of us, but it may be time to say adios and bow out gracefully."