This is a question I have often asked myself over the years, especially when I read another article about Don Henley suing someone. Did the Eagles steal the opening drum beat from Andrew Gold’s Never Let Her Slip Away for their own #1 hit, Heartache Tonight? I have never read where they have credited Andrew, acknowledged the influence or paid him any money. The evidence is pretty damning and you can listen to the video below for audio proof.
Here’s the quick story: Andrew Gold was writing songs in late 1977 for his next album, All This And Heaven Too. He and songwriting partner, Brock Walsh, were particularly inspired by Queen’s We Rock With You stomp – bom-bom clap, bom-bom clap – and wanted something similar but softer for a song they wrote about Andrew’s new girlfriend, SNL’s Larraine Newman. That song was Never Let Her Slip Away and when he recorded it, he asked Freddie Mercury to sing back up vocals on it, as well as Timothy B Schmit and J.D. Souther. The song only reached #67 in the Summer of 1978.
Sometime within that year J.D. Souther and Glenn Frey were jamming together, writing songs for the Eagles next LP – the forthcoming The Long Run – when they stumbled upon a future hit, Heartache Tonight. Bob Seger helped out with the chorus and Don Henley helped to polish the song before recording it. Also by now Timothy B Schmit was an official Eagle. Heartache Tonight was released in the Fall of 1979 and became a #1 hit before the end of the year, garnering a Grammy nomination as well. The drum beat after the opening chords is very similar to Andrew’s in Never Let Her Slip Away, so similar that I assumed it was a sample. Hmmmmm….
What’s so ironic is that 2 people – J.D. Souther and Timothy B Schmit – helped to create Andrew’s song which the Eagles seemingly ripped off. Was it a coincidence? Unintentional musical osmosis? Eagles & Andrew were on the same label, Asylum. I feel like they needed to throw Andrew some dollars or some credit or both. But no one sued, it became a non-issue and all was OK, until….
2013 – Haim releases Days Are Gone featuring the song, The Wire, which includes the almost exact same intro as Heartache Tonight with no credits to any of The Eagles. Interestingly no Eagle has sued Haim, to date. I’m guessing that’s because the trail is very muddy and may be better left alone.
So to recap Haim (most likely) stole from the Eagles who (highly probably) stole from Andrew Gold who (didnt really steal, but was inspired by) Queen.
Watch this video for aural proof and tell me what you think: