TAKING FLIGHT
Bass Player|December 2020
Bassist Timothy B Schmit looks back on being asked to join the Eagles in 1977, just as they hit the big time.
Neville Marten
Back in 2016, when we met Timothy B Schmit of the Eagles, he was at a bittersweet crossroads. Eagles founder member Glenn Frey had passed away not long before our interview, and the future of the Eagles was in question. But following the completion of a fine new solo album, Leap Of Faith, the Californian bassist was poised to begin a new chapter in his eventful life. He gave Neville Marten the lowdown on his years as bassist with country-rock’s highest-flying band, and how his early love of US folk act the Kingston Trio saw him sing for Steely Dan and moonlight with Crosby, Stills and Nash.

Glenn Frey’s death was a terrible shock. Does his passing mean the continuation of the Eagles on hold—or is is it over?

My answer is... I have no idea. I just don’t know… Sorry.

You seemed almost ‘custom-made’ to fit in with the Eagles. I liken it to Ronnie Wood and the Stones.

Yes, I think you’re right. I’ve often said that it was a great fit, all around. And you are the second person that’s compared that move to Ronnie’s.

Really?

Only two. I thought about it a long time ago…”

You’ve said that Glenn phoned you to offer you the job. Did you have any idea that might happen?

I did. The reason was because of my neighbour across the street from me in the Hollywood Hills. It was JD Souther. And he’s literally across the street, you know? Right there. I could see his house from mine, and we used to hang out a lot. One time I was over there, and he said, ‘I’m not supposed to tell you this, you’ve got to keep it quiet. But I think you’re going to get a call, that Randy [Meisner] is quitting, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to get the call.’ So I was like, going, ‘Okay, that would be nice. How do I not be excited about this?’ I can’t remember how much time passed, it wasn’t that long— maybe a few days, maybe a week or two. And I did get the call, I got the call from Glenn.

What did he say and how long did it take you to respond?

I can’t remember exactly how he couched it. But it was, ‘Randy’s quitting, and we’re wondering if you’re interested?’ Something like that. You know, I was pretty much ready to just stop everything, and start, and I let him know that. But as it turns out, they wanted… I had to keep a lid on it. And we had already had… Poco already had another tour planned. I had to go out on this tour with them, but not tell them. And then we came back, and we were going to start our next whatever it was. Maybe we were going to tour. And I called up Irving [Azoff, manager of the Eagles], and I said, ‘I’ve got to tell these guys. I can’t pretend like I’m going to do this, when I’m not.’ So I was allowed to tell them, then.

I suppose the members of Poco [the band Timothy was in at the time] would have been both pleased and mortified...

The important thing to me was not to have management do it [tell them]. That happened to me once before. Where somebody left the group and they didn’t talk to me personally, I didn’t like that. I thought it was odd, actually. So I told management that I was going to go tell them, and I went to everybody’s house and told them.

When you joined the Eagles, did you have a great deal of input in the writing process?

Or did they want you to play specific parts? No, they never said that… Because when we started the record, we had no songs. That seems strange, doesn’t it? It kind of was. But we worked them out, and we worked them out together. And they didn’t say, for instance, ‘This is how the song goes, and we want you to play these notes.’ It wasn’t like that. It all came naturally. Comments and suggestions, maybe: ‘Leave this out, don’t do that, don’t do this.’ But basically, I didn’t feel that constricted.

Did you have to do much trying to get songs in the band?

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