Prepare to embark on a wild ride through the highs and lows of rock ‘n’ roll as acclaimed music biographer Mick Wall unveils the untold story of the Eagles in “Eagles: Dark Desert Highway.”
Mick Wall, renowned music biographer and master storyteller, has embarked on his latest literary endeavor, “Eagles: Dark Desert Highway” (Hachette). With an impressive repertoire that includes in-depth explorations of iconic artists like Meatloaf, Jimi Hendrix, Foo Fighters, and Guns N’ Roses, Wall now delves into the fractured brotherhood that led to the breakup of one of America’s greatest bands.
“The Eagles: Dark Desert Highway” unveils the underlying tensions and conflicts that tore the band apart, shattering the image of the American dream they embodied. From their meteoric rise to fame and unimaginable success to the darkest depths of betrayal, hubris, and discarded relationships, Wall uncovers a gothic American fable of power, wealth, sex, and drugs that consumed the band.
As the bestselling band in American history, outselling even legendary acts like Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones combined, the Eagles left an indelible mark on the music industry. Mick Wall takes readers on a captivating journey through the hedonistic days of the 1970s LA music scene, where American music was taking over the world.
In an exclusive interview, Mick Wall opens up about his passion for music, his writing process, and the captivating story of the Eagles. With his extensive experience in the music industry, Wall brings a unique perspective that goes beyond the surface-level music-centric narratives. He delves into the real stories behind the scenes, unearthing the truth about the band that revolutionized rock music.
Prepare to be immersed in Mick Wall’s unparalleled storytelling as he uncovers the untold history of the Eagles, providing readers with the ultimate insight into one of America’s greatest bands. From the soaring highs to the darkest lows, “Eagles: Dark Desert Highway” promises to be a gripping and unforgettable journey into the heart of rock ‘n’ roll.
Happy: What are you up to today?
Mick: Trying to get my new laptop up and running. Having trouble downloading Spotify because I cannot remember the password…
Happy: Tell us about where you live, what do you love or not love so much about it?
Mick: I live on a farm in Oxfordshire. It is not my farm. I rent the house on the farm with my wife and kids. I am a city boy, born in London where I lived until my mid-30s, with a 3- year break in the late 80s-early 90s when I lived in Los Angeles. But I always wanted to get the hell out of Dodge and breathe fresh air – so here I am and here I’ve been for some years now.
Happy: Tell us about your average day.
Mick: I don’t have an average day. I’m a writer, so I’m in deadline hell with my latest book, which means every day is the same but different. Or like right now I’m doing all the stuff that gets neglected while I’m writing. Paying bills, clearing rats out of the house, trying to work Spotify on my new laptop, which I bought in January but have only today taken out of the box.
Happy: What about your ultimate day?
Mick: No such day.
Happy: What did you read or watch growing up that fuelled your passion for music?
Mick: I read the music papers, big in the UK in the 70s and 80s, and listened to the radio or records my friends played me.
Happy:What did you read or watch last that opened your eyes and mind to a new perspective?
Mick: Succession. Billions. Winning Time. Real Time with Bill Mahr. Documentary: The Real Charlie Chaplin. Basically, everything I watch on TV that’s any good. Books: currently the new Bret Easton Ellis, The Shards, but also/always Cormac McCarthy, James Ellroy…
Happy: Your new book The Eagles: Dark Desert Highway is a comprehensive history of one of the most iconic American bands of all time. What drew you to tell their story?
Mick: It’s a great story that’s never been told properly, in my opinion. These sorts of books tend to be overconcerned with music. Having worked in the music biz for over 40 years – journalist, PR, TV and radio presenter/producer, manager, record label exec, tour promoter – I know from hard-won firsthand experience how little the music biz and the people in it, especially the so-called stars, give a shit about music.
That is hardly ever their real story. The Eagles are perfect examples. Their story is also the story of LA in the 70s, also the story of every other group and artist that defined that milieu. Byrds, Gram Parsons, CSN&Y, Linda Ronstadt, Fleetwood Mac, etc. Silver coke spoons, private Lear Jets, money honey.
Happy: How did you approach the task of chronicling such a storied group?
Mick: Soak it up through endless months and years of research, then let it out like an explosion. Ignore all collateral damage, burn every bridge, never write it for the band or the people involved in the story. Write it only for the reader. These rock stars are not your friends. But I am.
Happy: As you researched the bands history, were there any surprises or revelations that you uncovered?
Happy: Yes and no. It’s impossible to surprise me at this point but the revelations were endless.
Mick: To get the right answers you have to ask the right questions. To know what the right questions are is the trick. That’s where all my decades in the biz help.
Happy: You spend a significant amount of time exploring the Laurel Canyon scene thatbirthed the Eagles, and the other musicians who came up alongside them. How important was that community to the bands success?
Mick: Totally. Mainly in teaching them what not to do. They soon fled from that ‘scene’ and turned themselves into something bigger, more Zep and the Stones than Neil Young. The Eagles had to overcome numerous obstacles to achieve their success. What do you think set them apart from other aspiring musicians of their time? Huge talent, stratospheric ambition, plenty of luck, and having balls big enough and bad enough not to give a shit what anybody else thought.
Happy: Cocaine abuse was a pervasive issue within the band. How did this drug culture impact their music and relationships?
Mick: Coke was everywhere in the 70s, but most especially in LA. It didn’t so much impact on the Eagles as become the air they breathed. They didn’t even think about it as ‘drugs’. Coke was a rich man’s accoutrement. Proof you’d made it. Like vintage champagne. And limos. And private jets.
Happy: How did the Eagles music evolve over the course of their career, and what do you think contributed to their enduring popularity?
Mick: It evolved from country rock to straight up rock with a capital R. Which was always the plan as far as Frey and Henley were concerned. They endured because they followed this age-old music biz maxim: Art for art’s sake. Hit singles for fuck’s sake.
Happy: The Eagles are often associated with the excesses of 1970s rock and roll. Do you think their music still resonates with contemporary audiences?
Mick: Their music is timeless, like all the greatest rock music from the Stones and Pink Floyd to Bowie, Elton, Dylan. The second someone puts ‘Hotel California’ up as a cool TikTok video, or some half-assed act on a reality show sings ‘Take It Easy’, it starts again.
Happy: The Eagles had many hits over the years, but they were also known for their album cuts and deep tracks. What are some of the lesser-known Eagles songs that you think deserve more attention?
Mick: I really like ‘My Man’ from On The Border, Bernie Leadon’s song for Gram Parson after he died.
Happy: What do you hope readers will take away from your book and their deeper understanding of the Eagles legacy?
Mick: The book is written to be totally immersive. So like a good movie I hope they come away going, “Fuck man, that was one hell of a trip!”
Happy: And Lastly, what makes you happy?
Mick: What a weird question? Like I have only one answer. Well, I’m going off for a beer as soon as I finish typing. Maybe with some of the good smoke. Will that make me happy? For about 5 minutes yeah.
Photos: Charlotte Knee Photography