Bernard Leadon was born July 19, 1947 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He played in Southern California bluegrass and country rock groups in the 1960’s such as The Flying Burrito Brothers and Dillard & Clark. He backed Linda Ronstadt alongside Glenn Frey, Don Henley and Randy Meisner at one point, and they went off to form the Eagles in 1971.
Leadon was a huge force in the early sound of the Eagles. He played lead guitar, acoustic, banjo, and pedal steel guitar, among other things. He also wrote/co-wrote many Eagles songs such as “Earlybird”, “Train Leaves Here This Morning”, “Bitter Creek”, “My Man”, “Journey of the Sorcerer”, “Witchy Woman”, “On the Border” and others…some with his brother Tom Leadon.
While the only hit with Leadon as a writer was “Witchy Woman”, he was nonetheless a very important part of the band’s sound. However, conflicts about the band’s direction as well as personality clashes led to Leadon leaving the band in December 1975 after completing and touring for the Eagles’ fourth studio album, One of These Nights. He was replaced by Joe Walsh as the band moved towards a harder rock sound.
Afterwards, Leadon went on towards a more country sound. His first post-Eagles album was Natural Progressions (1977), done with his best friend Michael Georgiades. After this album, Leadon largely stayed behind the scenes, contributing to other’s albums or taking a lower profile role in other bands. He played a stint with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, produced bands such as Restless Heart and their hit “I’ll Still Be Loving You”, and in the nineties formed a group called Run C&W that spoofed “modern” music by rercording it with a country/bluegrass sound.
In 1998, Leadon temporarily reunited with all the members past and present of the Eagles in New York City for the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame. They performed two songs: “Take It Easy” and “Hotel California” (although Leadon was not in the Eagles when the latter was released).
Leadon released his second solo album Mirror in 2004, 27 years after the release of his first. He made a few brief appearances to promote it, but has not toured solo since.
Happily for Leadon fans, he was included on the History of the Eagles tour, performing “Train Leaves Here This Morning” and playing the first half of the show as well as the encore.
He certainly hasn’t lost his touch.