Eagle Tim Feeds The Fire
Jun 15 2001
John Whishaw, Birmingham Post
In the summer of 1839, Captain John Augustus Sutter, a naturalised American
citizen, sails up the Sacramento river with a small crew. With a land grant
of 44,000 acres, he establishes Sutter's Fort.
A decade later, the discovery of gold sees thousands heading west to stake
their claim. Fast forward a hundred years and a two-year-old youngster is
taking the first steps on his way to becoming a mainstay of the Sacramento
music scene, before becoming a famous rock star with one of the greatest
groups in the world.
Born in Oakland California on October 30, 1947, Timothy B Schmit grows up
with the sound of music in his ears. His dad Danny plays mandolin with local
three-piece the Tunemixers and soon his son is destined to follow in his
father's footsteps. By the age of 15 as a member of folk trio Tim, Tom &
Ron, with his pals Tom Phillips and Ron Flogel, the boy becomes seduced by
the beat of the British invasion.
Armed with his first Fender Jazz bass guitar, and with George Hullin on
drums, they evolve into the surfing sound of the Contenders who are
superseded in 1964 by the guitar-based pop of the New Breed, who establish a
four-year following in Northern California, opening for the likes of Sonny &
Cher, Herman's Hermits and Janis Joplin's Big Brother & the Holding Company.
The Sacramento beat boys are spotted by Doris Day's son Terry Melcher, the
man behind early hits for the Byrds, who changes their name to Never Mind
and then to Glad, cutting an album Feelin' Glad for ABC Records.
Meanwhile, following the dissolution of Buffalo Springfield, as Stephen
Stills and Neil Young go off to LA superstardom, guitarist Richie Furay is
teaming up with multi-instrumentalist Jim Messina who had helped out on
their final album Last Time Around.
Pedal steel wizard Rusty Young, another who'd contributed to Buffalo
Springfield's Atlantic swansong, is invited to join the new line-up in
Hollywood in 1968. Rusty is a member of Colorado combo Boenzee Cryque, whose
drummer George Grantham becomes the group's fourth member.
With the addition of bass guitarist Randy Meisner from another Rocky
Mountain outfit the Poor, who'd gone to LA in search of fame, the new band
is born. They call themselves Pogo, in honour of a strip cartoon hero, until
the character's creator Walt Kelly takes exception, necessitating a swift
name-change to avoid litigation. Now named Poco, they secure a deal with
Epic Records when Richie Furay, still under contract to Atlantic, finds
himself swapped for Graham Nash, signed to Epic as a member of the Hollies.
In April 1969, Randy Meisner quits for Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band, and
Poco approach Timothy B Schmit to take his place, but with Glad on the verge
of breakthrough, he declines their invitation.
Poco carry on as a four-piece until February 1970 when they approach the
bass guitarist once again. This time Timmy says yes, and his dramatic good
looks, forceful musicianship and tuneful vocal harmonies will play an
important role in the popularity of the group for the following seven years.
Poco's reputation as an outstanding live attraction finds them a fervent
British following. "I'm learning about that now," he laughs. "Bigger than I
thought it was at the time."
As a writer, Schmit contributes Hear That Music, Here We Go Again, Hard Luck and From The Inside and many more to the Poco songbook. "I wasn't that prolific," he now admits. "I didn't look on it as competition with the others."
He finds himself in demand to sing on sessions for Steely Dan (Aja, The Royal Scam and Pretzel Logic), Jimmy Buffett, Bob Seger, Crosby Stills and Nash, Elton John and even Spinal Tap. Everything is going swimmingly until September 1977 when Schmit receives the phone call which will change the course of his career for ever.
Randy Meisner, by this time bass guitarist with the Eagles, is once again on
the move and as his natural successor, Timmy Schmit is offered the job.
"Glenn Frey called me," he reveals. "He asked me to keep a lid on it, but
out of loyalty to the guys in Poco, I went round to each of their houses to
get their approval."
Schmit joins the Eagles for the Hotel California tour, playing on The Long Run and Eagles Live albums, penning I Can't Tell You Why with Glenn Frey and Don Henley, before the group begins a 14-year sabbatical, saying they will only regroup "when hell freezes over". The various members pursue successful solo careers until Nashville's 1993 Eagles tribute Common Thread, which includes Vince Gill's version of I Can't Tell You Why featuring Timothy B Schmit on background vocals.
Encouraged by the record's enthusiastic reception, the Eagles decide to
reform, calling their comeback album, what else, Hell Freezes Over.
In January 1998 the Eagles were inducted into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame.
Timothy B Schmit has just released his fabulous fourth solo album Feed The
Fire, his first since 1990's Tell Me The Truth.
The 53-year old is joined by Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh for the track I'll
Always Let You In, but the composer has no plans to include the song in
"I think it's too early," he admits. "The album isn't well enough known yet.
I am very proud of the album. I put a lot of time and energy into it."
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