On May 27, 1994, a reunion tour kicked off which was so unlikely that, if you’d asked the average rock fan when they thought it might happen, they would’ve said... Well, what they would’ve said was, in fact, the phrase used by the Eagles as the name of the tour. But how did this band famed for past squabbles find their way back together and reach a point where they actually embarked on their Hell Freezes Over jaunt?
It all started with a tribute album: Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, an all-star affair which included a plethora of artists tackling tunes by the band, including Little Texas, Clint Black, John Anderson, Alan Jackson, Suzy Bogguss, Vince Gill, Diamond Rio, Trisha Yearwood, Billy Dean, Tanya Tucker, Brooks & Dunn, and Lorrie Morgan. Kicking off the whole affair, however, was Travis Tritt, whose cover “Take It Easy” served as the album’s first single.
When Tritt was approached by Irving Azoff and asked to make the video, he had a condition: the Eagles had to appear in it. This actually happened, but oddsmakers in Las Vegas would’ve laughed at the idea that such a thing would ever come to pass. Not that the video involved any heavy lifting on the part of the guys - all they had to do was be on camera, whether it involved them playing pool, pretending to play their instruments, or just walking around - but when it occurred, it was the first time all of the band members - Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Don Felder and Timothy B. Schmit - had appeared together in 13 years.
As it turned out, however, the opportunity to just hang out provided them with the opportunity to talk to each other, and as a result of the impromptu reunion, Henley and Frey announced two months later that they were getting the band back together for a tour.
First, though, there was the reunion concert. It took place at Warner Brothers Studios in Burbank, where it was recorded for an MTV special, with Frey kidding to the crowd, “For the record, we never broke up; we just took a 14-year vacation.”
And so it was that on May 27, 1994, the Eagles took the stage of the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater in Irvine, California to kick off their Hell Freezes Over tour. The band proceeded to remain on the road for the better part of the next two years, earning success with new studio recordings - "Get Over It" and “Love Will Keep Us Alive” - and remaining active off and on for the long haul, releasing a new studio album, Long Road Out of Eden, in 2007 (albeit without Felder), and continuing to do live shows.
Frey died in January 2016, irrevocably changing the existence of the Eagles forever, but they haven’t fully flown the coop: these days, Frey’s son Deacon plays in his father’s stead, and Vince Gill has been a member of the group when they’re on the road, so they’re still in flight even now.
Apparently, once Hell freezes over, it’s for good.