The top 10 Randy Meisner songs cover the man’s career that includes his run as one of the founding members of the Eagles, as well as a solo artist, and as a contributing member of other bands such as Drivin’ Dynamics and Poco. From 1961 until 2008, Meisner enjoyed a career as a singer, songwriter, and musician that often had him serve as a bassist and backup harmony vocalist. Aside from the first six of the studio albums he recorded and released with the Eagles, Meisner has also recorded and released five solo albums.
Born as Randall Herman Meisner on March 8, 1946, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, he was raised as the son of a farming couple whose parents migrated to the United States from Germany. Meisner’s childhood memories include listening to his mother often singing at home. By the time he was ten years old, his interest in music resulted in taking lessons that would lead him to play in local bands. One of his idols was Elvis Presley, as well as the talent pool that influenced Motown and R&B music.
While in school, Meisner was encouraged to learn how to play the bass guitar. It seemed the moment he picked up the instrument, his destiny to become a professional musician was already set. As a bassist and singer, he played for The Drivin’ Dynamics from 1961 to 1965. Technically known as The Dynamics at the time, the group recorded a four-song EP that featured Meisner singing as lead vocalist for Sam Cooke’s 1957 classic, “You Send Me.” This led to a 1965 record deal with Sully Records that had Meisner sing the lead on two songs, “One of These Days” and “So Fine.”
Between 1966 to 1970, Randy Meisner joined a few different bands that included The Poor, the Stone Canyon Band, and Goldrush. In this timeframe, Meisner moved to California, toured Europe, and experienced a series of ups and downs as a band member and session musician. In 1971, Meisner was recruited to join Linda Ronstadt’s lineup of backing musicians. It would be this experience that would have him meet Glenn Frey, Don Henley, and Bernie Leadon.
With Frey, Henley, and Leadon, Meisner founded the Eagles in September 1971 and the group signed up with David Geffen’s new label, Asylum Records. In 1972, the band released its debut album. The first five recordings featured Meisner serving as bass guitarist, singer, and songwriter which would include the group’s first big hit, “Take It to the Limit.” While it seemed on the surface all was well with the Eagles, it was a different story internally. For Meisner, spending so much time away from his family took its toll on the man. At the time, he was married to his high school sweetheart, Jennifer Lee Barton, and they had three children.
After the 1976 release of Hotel California, the Eagles embarked on a tour that would have Meisner face a series of health issues that weighed him down even further. As popular as the Eagles became, Meisner had a personal preference to stay out of the spotlight. Once the tour was over in 1977, a physically and emotionally exhausted Meisner found himself realizing his time as a valued Eagles bandmate was over. When he left, Timothy B. Schmit took his place. It would be the second time Schmit replaced Meisner in a band’s official lineup. The first time was with Poco when Meisner moved on after the recording of Pickin’ Up the Pieces was complete in 1968.
Although Meisner shared no resentment against his former Eagles bandmates, he did admit he felt disappointment when the group’s 1994 Hell Freezes Over tour excluded him as if he never existed. In 1998, the Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame which featured all seven of the band’s past and present membership roster. This time, Meisner was included. When Timothy B. Schmit made his acceptance speech, he paid tribute to the man while the Eagles accepted the award before a live audience in New York City.
In 1978, Randy Meisner began his career as a solo artist. This marked the same year he released his self-titled album, which featured a new arrangement to his signature hit, “Take It to the Limit.” In 1980, Meisner’s One More Song had his former Eagles bandmates, Glenn Frey and Don Henley, help with the production as backup vocalists. Six of the album’s nine songs had Meisner’s penmanship as a songwriter team up with Eric Kaz and Wendy Waldman also included his hit single, “Hearts on Fire.” Throughout the early 1980s, Randy Meisner & the Silverados embarked on a concert tour before he’d release his third album in 1982. Also titled Randy Meisner, this production featured Heart’s talent pool, including Ann and Nancy Wilson.
Three years after the release of his third album, Randy Meisner teamed up with Jimmy Griffin and Billy Swan to form a supergroup known as Black Tie. Together, they covered Buddy Holly’s “Learning the Game” and it became a big hit in the country music genre. In 1990, Black Tie released When the Night Falls, just before Griffin left the band and was replaced by Charlie Rich, Jr. This sparked a name change from Black Tie to Meisner, Rich & Swan. As a trio, they toured extensively before releasing their studio album on September 11, 2001. This was unfortunate timing as all the attention was poured on the 9/11 terrorist attack that took place on American soil that day.
From the 1990s until 2008, Meisner performed as a solo artist that also teamed up with former bandmates during concert tours and recording sessions. Before the Eagles, he was with Drivin’ Dynamics, as well as Poco. In 2013, he was invited by the Eagles to join them for their History of the Eagles world tour but he had health issues that prevented him from doing so. He did, however, appear at their September 2018 three-night concert at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The footage of this concert was released on October 16, 2020, as Live from the Forum MMXVIII in CD and DVD formats.
Four years after Randy Meisner left the Eagles, his marriage with Jennifer Lee Barton ended in divorce. Not long after this, he began a twelve-year relationship with Lana Rae before the two finally married in 1996. Unfortunately for Meisner, Rae accidentally shot herself on March 6, 2016, when the rifle she was carrying struck an object that was also in the case with it. As a result, it fired a shot that mortally wounded her while Randy Meisner was in another room inside the house. Stricken with grief, Meisner was kept under psychiatric surveillance until it was determined he wasn’t going to pose a danger to himself or anyone else for that matter as he was already previously diagnosed as bipolar.
Although regarded by his fans and peers as someone easygoing and gentle, Meisner did have a history of health issues that included mental illness. When the Eagles were at the height of their fame during the mid-1970s, it was noted he was uncomfortable being in the spotlight. It played a factor in the family feud-style bickering that took place backstage, especially between Meisner and Frey. At the time, Meisner struggled with alcoholism due to his discomfort with fame. This was a condition that plagued him since late 1960 that would ultimately lead to a series of medical emergencies in 2004. This eventually led to his decision to stop performing in 2008.
However, Meisner’s battle with alcoholism didn’t end there. In 2015, a lawsuit was filed on his behalf that suggested his second wife, Lana Rae, took advantage of Meisner’s medical and mental health issues by force-feeding him alcohol to keep him in an intoxicated state. While the couple denied the story publicly, people closest to Meisner were concerned about his well-being in what they saw as a toxic environment for a man whose health was continuing to take a turn for the worse.
After Rae died in 2016, Meisner’s threat of suicide wasn’t the first time he voiced he wanted to take his own life. Thankfully, he never followed through with it as the fans were able to enjoy his music at least one more time. In 2020, Meisner performed with Richie Furay at his home for a series of live-stream concerts. Since then, he’s kept a low profile, away from the public spotlight while fans continue to listen to and appreciate his music.
Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs
#10 – Come On Back to Me
“Come On Back to Me” was a song from Randy Meisner’s 1980 solo album, One More Song. As an easy-listening song addressed to his love interest. Released before his divorce from his first wife was finalized, one would think this was a song meant for her. With a marriage that was falling apart, Meisner seemed to pour his heart and soul into his music as a therapeutic means to deal with the loss. This was his niche as a musician, one which his fans benefited from throughout his recording career. Meisner’s talent as a musician, plus his easy-going nature, made him a favorite as a solo artist and as a member of the different bands he performed with.
#9 – Save the Last Dance for Me
Without a doubt, “Save the Last Dance for Me” will always be the Drifters’ signature song. This all-time classic, as it was originally recorded in 1960 with Ben E. King as the lead vocalist, is impossible to beat. It has been covered many times over by so many recording artists, including Randy Meisner. While his version may not stand out as a cult classic like the original, it’s still wonderfully performed by one of the few artists who could do this song justice. Meisner’s version was recorded and released in 1978 when he made his debut with his self-titled solo album.
#8 – Don’t Keep It Inside
Released on June 8, 2004, Love Me or Leave Me Alone was a recording that featured “Don’t Keep It Inside” as one of its fifteen songs. The musical collection from this album featured a collection of demos and other recordings spanning from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. While the critics didn’t see the album as anything spectacular, “Don’t Keep It Inside” is one of those songs that served as a soul piece coming from Randy Meisner. This is a great ballad to turn to when it feels as if the world is too much to handle. Singing as someone who already knew a thing or two about depression, Meisner’s “Don’t Keep It Inside” stands out as a fan favorite who recognize good music when they hear it.
#7 – One More Song
“One More Song” was the title track from Randy Meisner’s 1980 album, which was his second release as a solo recording artist. This is a beautiful ballad of a singer who shared an experience while playing at a club. It’s one of those incredible gems that had Meisner present an autobiography of himself in the form of a song that’s guaranteed to be a tear-jerker among fans who know a thing or two about the man and his history. This also extends beyond just him. One More Song” represents exactly what the best of music is all about. The video footage of Randy Meisner associated with this song makes it that much harder to watch without having a box of tissues nearby.
#6 – Playin’ in the Deep End
In 1982, Randy Meisner released his second self-titled studio album. “Playin’ in the Deep End” was one of the nine tracks from it and also one of the album’s highlights as a song. Sung as a country-rock gem with a hard electric edge, Meisner demonstrated why he was so favored as a bass guitarist for so many rock groups, including the Eagles. Of the songs from Meisner’s collection of recordings, this is one of his most playful and enjoyable. It was as if life was finally coming together for the man that didn’t come with grueling schedules and unrealistic expectations. In the song, he referred to “Suzy,” a love interest that won over his heart in what felt like a carefree moment.
#5 – Anyway Bye Bye
Written by Richie Furay, “Anyway Bye Bye” was the final song on the tracklist belonging to Randy Meisner’s second solo album, One More Song. This was a ballad Meisner sang as a breakup song, informing his love interest that it was time for him to move on. The release of the album was in 1980, one year before he and his first wife, Jennifer Lee Barton. The two were high school sweethearts that married in 1963 and had three children together. Unfortunately, it was a marriage that didn’t last. The reality of Meisner’s situation seemed to play through “Anyway Bye Bye” as he shared the heartbreak of a love that grew too cold to continue.
#5 – Playin’ in the Deep End
In 1982, Randy Meisner released his second self-titled studio album. “Playin’ in the Deep End” was one of the nine tracks from it and also one of the album’s highlights as a song. Sung as a country-rock gem with a hard electric edge, Meisner demonstrated why he was so favored as a bass guitarist for so many rock groups, including the Eagles. This playful tune was Randy Meisner at his carefree best, a rare performance that seemed to have him at his happiest. As one of the songs featured in the album, it was recorded and released at a time when his relationship with Lana Rae began as a romantic courtship that would eventually lead to marriage in 1996.
#4 – Never Been in Love
In 1982, Randy Meisner was an album released that featured Ann and Nancy Wilson from Heart. It was the second time Meisner recorded a self-titled album since moving on as a solo artist after his run with the Eagles was done. “Never Been in Love” became a number twenty-eight hit on the US Billboard Hot 100, as well as a number thirty hit on the Canadian Top Singles chart.
This incredible song started with a powerful opening that features Meisner smoking his way through with his crystal clear vocals and amazing bass performance. A timeless classic, “Never Been in Love” suggested Meisner was perhaps singing about the new love interest in his life, Lana Rae. She became his girlfriend not long after his first marriage with his high school sweetheart dissolved in 1981. In 1996, she became his wife.
#3 – Deep Inside My Heart (featuring Kim Carnes)
On the US Billboard Hot 100, “Dance Inside My Heart” was a single that peaked as high as number twenty-two in 1980. On the Canadian Top Singles chart, it was a number twelve hit. While Randy Meisner sang as the lead vocalist, Kim Carnes performed as his backing vocalist. Although she was not credited at the time this song was released, fans had no trouble recognizing her easily distinguishable voice.
Together, the two performed this song as a duet on The Midnight Special and it became a popular music video. It also became a number thirty-four hit on Australia’s Kent Music Report at the time. “Deep Inside My Heart” came from Meisner’s 1980 album, One More Song, and was one of his signature hits that stood out as an all-time fan favorite.
#2 – Hearts on Fire
1980’s One More Song was an album that produced the hit single, “Hearts on Fire.” On the US Billboard Hot 100, it became a number nineteen hit. On the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart and the Canadian Top Singles chart, the song peaked as high as number fourteen. This was Randy Meisner’s second hit to break into the top twenty as a single since he became a solo artist after leaving the Eagles in 1977. If there was that one signature song belonging to Randy Meisner that wasn’t directly linked to the Eagles “Hearts on Fire” would be it. Meisner sang about how he felt about a love interest that cranked the heat he felt in his heart up at least a few notches.
#1 – Take It to the Limit
The Eagles’ big hit, “Take It to the Limit.” was co-written by Randy Meisner while he was still part of the group’s lineup. He also sang the lead before moving on as a solo artist. “Take It to the Limit” was the group’s first big hit, which featured Meisner singing as lead vocalist. It came from the album, One of These Nights. As a solo artist, a rearranged version of “Take It to the Limit” was featured on Randy Meisner’s self-titled debut album in 1978. With his run with the Eagles officially done, Meisner moved forward with his recording career as his own man dictating his musical direction.
While Meisner’s solo of “Take It to the Limit” didn’t share the same charting success as his Eagles version did, this is still a cult classic. As a songwriter, Meisner installed the first few lines of “Take It to the Limit” after returning from the Troubadour tour. When he struggled to finish it in time for recording, he recruited Glenn Frey and Don Henley to apply the finishing touches. Between the three, this was usually how their songs as members of the Eagles ironed out, at least for the six albums Meisner took part in.
For Meisner, “Take It to the Limit” was a song about wanting to live life to the fullest at least one more time before becoming too old to do so. When it was recorded as a single for the group, Randy Meisner was the lead vocalist. In his solo version, this song featured David Cassidy as a backup vocalist while it was performed by acoustic guitar and piano.
The high notes Meisner hit as he sang “Take It to the Limit” served as its highlight. Unfortunately for Meisner, health issues during the Hotel California tour compromised his ability to hit those high notes on stage. It catalyzed the growing tensions that were brewing between himself and his bandmates at the time. After he departed from the Eagles, Meisner recorded and released his self-titled debut album in 1978 with “Take It to the Limit” which is unmistakably his signature song.
Top 10 Randy Meisner Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com© 2023
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