The Legend Behind the Eagles’ Third Encore (And What You Had To Do To See It)

Minutes after the Eagles finished their first (and maybe second) encore, the band and their entourage would move on to their third encore: a highly coveted and equally debaucherous afterparty that resulted in countless wrecked hotel rooms and a laundry list of party stories straight out of a verse of “Life in the Fast Lane.”

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As the story goes, the Eagles’ road crew distributed buttons to concertgoers, strangers (read: attractive women) they met while traveling, and other partiers the musicians deemed cool enough to hang. A far cry from their easygoing, laidback music, the Eagles’ wild third encores were truly the stuff of rock and roll legends.

The Eagles’ Third Encore Invitation System

When the Eagles first started making their aftershow parties routine, the band tasked the road crew with handing out laminated backstage passes to lucky invitees. But eventually, Don Henley and Glenn Frey had the idea to try something more discreet.

Don Felder described the buttons in his memoir Heaven and Hell: “Little buttons, with ‘3E’ written on them in yellow English Gothic print on a black background were passed out by the handful,” he wrote (via The Times). “The message was that the Eagles were having a party and would like to invite these women back to their hotel suite. No boyfriends were invited.

Notable guests besides the Eagles and their road crew included professional athletes and musical colleagues. Otherwise, the only other rule for inviting people up to the Eagles’ third encore was a simple caveat: no weirdos. After all, when you’re throwing what you fondly call the greatest traveling party of the 1970s, the invite list needs some guidelines, right?

What Made These Wild After Parties So Special

Third encores embodied most of the stereotypes of a rock and roll party: the band chasing after women who are fawning over them, plenty of drugs and alcohol, and a fair share of property destruction. A 1979 Rolling Stone article detailed one encore in particular, after which a “shell-shocked” hotel manager commented on the state of the band’s rooms (and the pool that was just below their balconies, now littered with furniture and alcohol bottles). 

“You know we’re going to pay for everything,” road manager Tommy Nixon replied to the concerned hotel employee. “Everything” also included a portrait of a 16th-century nobleman. Joe Walsh carved the words “PARTY TIL YA PUKE” into the painting’s cheek. Walsh developed a reputation for being particularly astute at hotel trashing, adopting a character called Metalhead that terrorized the band’s get-togethers in aluminum foil accouterment. The “Rocky Mountain Way” singer even carried his own chainsaw on the road to assist in his destructive habits.

“The trappings of success were ours by now, especially when we went on the road again for a 26-city tour,” Felder wrote in his memoir. “We took Lear jets the way other people took taxis. We drank champagne and snorted cocaine. I blame the drugs more than anything for what happened with the Eagles. We went from a bunch of young guys hanging out together to five men who couldn’t stand each other. Not that I was going to complain at the time.”

Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

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