In 1968, lead singer and bassist Kenny Rogers was touring with his band, The First Edition. The group had two top-forty songs under their belt: “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” a pop-psychedelic rock single released in 1967, followed up in 1968 with the soft rock ballad “But You Know I Love You” (which I’m sure I haven’t heard in fifty years!) In 1969 the group’s name changed to Kenny Rogers and the First Edition, coinciding with the release of their most famous single, “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Town”.
“The First Edition – Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) (1967)” (3:21):
The First Edition “But You Know I Love You” 1968 (2:57):
Don Henley was twenty or twenty-one years old when The First Edition played Dallas in 1968. Henley played drums and sang in a local band called The Felicity. (When they first formed in the early sixties, they called themselves The Four Speeds.) The group had released one unsuccessful single, in 1967. The A-side featured “I’ll Try It”, written by Henley. “Hurtin”, written by another band member, filled the B-side. The tracks have a British Invasion sound, which isn’t surprising since many American groups were imitating British bands at the time.
Henley went to see The First Edition play their tour date in Dallas. Afterwards, he had the nerve to introduce himself to Rogers and invited him to come see The Felicity play at a downtown bar. At first, Rogers declined, but for some reason changed his mind. This is the moment that led to Henley’s big break into stardom.
“Kenny Rogers Discovers Don Henley” (1:56):
“The Felicity (featuring Don Henley) – “I’ll Try It” (1967)” (2:20):
[The] “Felicity – hurtin” (3:02):
Rogers liked Henley’s band, inviting them to Los Angeles where they lived at his home for a few months until they settled. He pursauded the group to change their name to Shiloh, worked with them in the studio, got them gigs, and a recording contract. The revitalized group now had a country-rock sound, a pre-Eagles Eagles-like sound. (A couple of their best tracks can be found on YouTube.)
Suprisingly, despite the popularity of the country-rock genre, Shiloh’s music never made the big time. Song writer and band leader Jerry Surratt was killed in a motorcycle accident in 1970. Friction over leadership between Henley and another original member caused the band to split up. Henley had no trouble finding a new gig. He, Glen Frey, and other talented LA musicians were hired to join Linda Ronstadt’s band for her 1971 tour. It was on this tour that Frey and Henley decided to start a new band. By 1972, the Eagles released their first studio album.
Chances are, if Kenny Rogers hadn’t taken an interest in helping Henley and Shiloh, the Eagles never would have been.
“EAGLES ‘TAKE IT EASY’ BBC 1973” (5:17):
Question Of The Night: What’s your favorite Eagles song, or Eagles cover?