Like many high-profile rock bands, the Eagles experienced both highs and lows.

When it was good, it was really good. Between 1975 and 1979 they scored three consecutive No. 1 albums — One of These Nights, Hotel California and The Long Run — not to mention multiple hit singles, Grammy awards and international stardom.

"When this band started, we said, 'We want it all. Critical acclaim, artistic success and financial success,'" Bernie Leadon later told The Washington Post. "It wasn’t like we want to make a pretty good album, so our girlfriends like us. No, it was, 'We want to be the best fucking band there is.'"

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They might have gotten everything they set out for, but as many celebrities can attest, fame isn't always what it's cracked up to be – especially when that fame rests on the cohesion of a group of people who all possess their own personalities and opinions.

The Night That Ended the Eagles

Those years were chock-full of work. Long days added up to weeks and months on the road and in the studio. "And anytime you work that hard, that long, under that kind of pressure, with so many people and under such intimate conditions, there's gonna be friction and tension," Don Felder told UCR, adding that Leadon suggested at one point that they take separate vacations and reconvene after a rest. "It just becomes a very volatile situation."

That tension eventually reached a breaking point in 1980. Legally, the Eagles owed Asylum Records a live album, but it was clear that no one was interested in continuing things after that.

They were set to play a benefit show on July 31, 1980, in support of California Sen. Alan Cranston. Before taking the stage, however, Felder allegedly told the Senator: "You're welcome – I guess." The comment enraged Glenn Frey.

"I felt Don Felder insulted Sen. Cranston under his breath and I confronted him with it, " Frey later recalled. "So now we're on stage, and Felder looks back at me and says, 'Only three more songs 'til I kick your ass, pal.' And I'm saying, 'Great. I can't wait. 'We're out there singing 'Best of My Love,' but inside both of us are thinking, 'As soon as this is over, I'm gonna kill him.' That was when I knew I had to get out."

The Eagles Meet Senator Alan Cranston

Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives, Getty Images

Post-Breakup and Subsequent Reunion

He did. Eagles Live was released that November, and that would be the last project to come from the band for more than a decade. Everyone pursued solo careers, with varying degrees of success.

"I always thought about the Rolling Stones when we were apart," Timothy B. Schmit told The Washington Post. "I would see that the Stones were still together even though there was a lot of publicity about Mick [Jagger] and Keith [Richards] having a lot of problems. That's what it finally came down to. Let's do this thing and come together and work again."

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The Eagles finally did in 1994 for the Hell Freezes Over tour and album, a cheeky reference to something Don Henley once said about the chances for a reunion.

"We've all grown up a lot. I don't live in the past," Frey said then. "As far as I'm concerned, this is Day One."

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Gallery Credit: Matthew Wilkening

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