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Bernard Leadon (born July 19, 1947, in Minneapolismarker, Minnesotamarker) is an Americanmarker musician and songwriter, best known as a founding member of the Americanmarker rock band Eagles. He has also played in other bands, including the Flying Burrito Brothers and Dillard & Clark pushing "Lyin Down The Middle" [ a Laramy Smith song to a number 3 charted single.] He is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, mandolin, steel guitar, dobro) coming from a bluegrass background. He introduced elements of this music to a mainstream audience during his tenure with the Eagles.

Leadon's music career since leaving the Eagles has been decidedly low-key, resulting in merely two solo albums with a gap of twenty-seven years in between. Leadon is, however, a noted session musician who has appeared as a guest on many other artists' records.

Early career

Leadon's family was constantly on the move in his early life, and he found himself, still in high school, in San Diego, California. His interest in the banjo and in folk music gravitated him to a place called the Blue Guitar, run by folk and bluegrass music enthusiasts Larry Murray and Ed Douglas. This interest would land him a spot in the proprietors' band, "The Scottsville Squrriel Barkers", when their banjo player, Kenny Wertz, joined the Air Force. The Barkers were a breeding ground for future California country rock talent as its members included Murray, who founded Hearts and Flowers (another group Leadon would join), a shy, 18-year-old mandolin player by the name of Chris Hillman, (Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers (with Leadon), Souther, Hillman & Furay, Desert Rose Band, and others) with whom Leadon would strike a life-long friendship, and Leadon.

In the mid 1960s Leadon attended Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Florida. One of his classmates at Gainesville High was Don Felder, who would years later be his bandmate in the Eagles. Felder was a member of a band called the Continentals with Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame. Leadon ended up replacing Stills and joining Felder in the band, which was renamed the Maundy Quintet. In the 1966 Gainesville High School Yearbook the Maundy Quintet is pictured next to another Gainesville band destined for fame - Tom Petty and his early band the Epics, a band Bernie Leadon's brother, Tom Leadon, was in. Leadon played with various Southern California bluegrass and country rock groups in the 1960s, such as The Scottsville Squirrel Barkers (with future Byrd Chris Hillman), Hearts & Flowers, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and Dillard & Clark featuring his work on dobro, banjo and mandolin, as well as guitar. He honed his songwriting skills in The Flying Burrito Brothers and the short-lived Dillard & Clark, writing "God's Own Singer" (used as Gram Parsons' epithaph on his gravemarker) in the Burritos and co-writing the now classic "Train Leaves Here This Morning" with Gene Clark. He re-recorded the latter, somewhat of a signature song, on the debut album of the Eagles.

Tenure with the Eagles

Leadon used his boyhood choir training to arrange intricate harmony vocals on the Eagles' first few albums . He also wrote or co-wrote several songs, including the band's second hit, "Witchy Woman". Leadon left the Eagles in December of 1975, and was replaced by Joe Walsh. According to a 2008 interview with Don Felder, Leadon had left in order to spend more time devoted to exercising and taking care of his health. He had also expressed a desire for the band to take some time off, and when Henley and Frey opted to continue the heavy touring schedule, Leadon bowed out.

Life after the Eagles

Since then, Leadon has played with numerous other country and bluegrass artists, including a stint with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. He was a member of Run C&W, a novelty group singing Motown hits "bluegrass style." Leadon released his second solo effort in 27 years, 2004's Mirror. Leadon is also known as a surfing enthusiast.

He also co-founded the now defunct Pioneer Music Group in Japan which released an album from former Atlantic Records recording artist Judson Spence; an effort Leadon also produced.

Leadon reunited with the Eagles (with all current and former Eagles members) in 1998 in New York Citymarker for the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Famemarker. The seven musicians performed together on "Take It Easy," and "Hotel California".

Eagles songs

Eagles songs written or co-written by Bernie Leadon

Eagles songs with Bernie Leadon on lead vocals

External links

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