WEBSTER – In 1977, the Eagles were flying high.
The group had released their classic album “Hotel California” in December 1976, and it went on to become critical and commercial success, winning Grammy Awards.
Meanwhile, “The Eagles – Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975”) was on its way to becoming the best-selling album of the 20th century.
So Dark Desert Eagles have plenty of hits to choose from when the Eagles Tribute Band performs at Indian Ranch on July 17th.
âThe Eagles catalog is simply timeless,â said Pat Badger, founder of Dark Desert Eagles. âPeople come and say, ‘I didn’t realize how many hits.’ “
But Dark Desert Eagles is “more than just getting up and playing music,” although that is difficult enough on its own to be successful, Badger noted.
âIt’s more of a 1977 experiment. We take care of the whole picture and take people back to 1977,â Badger said.
Dark Desert Eagles pays close attention to wardrobe details, hairstyles, guitars and even transmits tensions among the Eagles despite their prime. There’s humor too, Badger said.
âWe don’t just pretend to be the Eagles, we are the Dark Desert Eagles who are the self-proclaimed World’s Greatest Eagles Tribute of 1977! We have traveled back in time to the present day and when the lights in the house go out, audiences find themselves in an episode of ‘Twilight Zone’ and meet ‘Back To The Future’ …
The shows attract several generations.
“We see a mix. People in their sixties who saw the Eagles in the ’70s, younger ones too.” said Badger. “It’s kind of a celebration.”
Badger also Extreme member
Many people may also know Badger, a Boston-area musician, singer, and songwriter, as a member of the veteran multi-platinum rock band Extreme.
Speaking of platinum, the Eagles amassed five No.1 singles and six No.1 albums, as well as five Grammy Awards and five American Music Awards.
It also means that there are other Eagles tribute bands out there, but Badger didn’t seem overly impressed with them.
âI’ve seen some of the other Eagle tributes. They do a lot of solo stuff with Don Henley and later on. We’re at the peak of their careers,â Badger said.
Henley is co-founder of the Eagles, along with the late Glenn Frey. It was Frey’s death in 2016 that touched Badger and led, in part, to the Dark Desert Eagles taking their wings.
âI grew up listening to the Eagles and a lot of classic rock,â Badger said.
Badger added that the late Brad Delp of the Boston group also had a Beatles tribute project called Beatlejuice, which helped inspire Badger to form Dark Desert Eagles.
Additionally, while Extreme still played music, toured, and recorded, Badger said there were gaps in his schedule.
Still, “The Eagles had five lead singers. I had to find the right musicians,” Badger said of the founding of Dark Desert Eagles.
Distinct vocal harmonies
Besides incredible musicality, a hallmark of the Eagles is their rising vocal harmony.
âHaving been in a rock band on tour, I have either friends that I have been in contact with or a network of friends and acquaintances. I have always had a good network of talented musicians,â said Badger said.
Badger enlisted musicians Dana Spellman on drums; multi-instrumentalist Chris Lester; “guitar hero” Joe Pessia of the band Steelheart; and musical artist Tom Appleman, professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston.
It took a while before the Dark Desert Eagles were ready to take flight. âIt’s not like it’s everyone’s full-time job. We can only rehearse once a week. It was about a year before we did our first gig,â Badger said.
With the pandemic touring break, “We rehearse tonight,” he added. “Remove rust and remove cobwebs.”
Prior to the pandemic, the group was on tour in the New England area (including stops at the DCU Center ballroom in Worcester and the Bull Run restaurant in Shirley) as well as across the country.
Indian Ranch huge gig
Scott Brown and the Diplomats will open for the band at Indian Ranch.
âThey’re the first tribute band (Eagles) on the East Coast. Being able to go on stage and open up for these guys will be really something,â Brown said.
After:Former US Senator Scott Brown becomes the first group at Indian Ranch
When he listened to the Eagles grow up, Badger lived in Winchester, just north of Boston. He remembers the visits to Worcester Centrum, as the DCU Center was once known.
“I went to the Centrum a bunch of times when I was younger.”
He was a student at Berklee College of Music and co-founded Extreme, playing bass and singing backing vocals, in Boston in 1985. Badger also released a few solo albums.
Extreme has sold 10 million records, including the hit “More Than Words”, and has toured the world.
âWe had been touring until the pandemic,â Badger said of Extreme. “Since the start of the pandemic, we have not played.”
Extreme was scheduled to open for Aerosmith at their 50th anniversary concert at Fenway Park in 2020. That date has now been pushed back to 2022, and Badger has said he hopes Extreme will still be on it.
Dark Desert Eagles, however, slowly hit the road.
âThere were some long stretches that we didn’t play. It was pretty slim choices with the venues,â Badger said.
Drive-ins started last year and the band performed last fall and a few more in the spring. “It is only now that the old sites are reopening.”
Dark Desert Eagles has a few summer shows in the New England area, including Indian Ranch and the Cape Cod Melody Tent in August.
âIt’s still much slower than before the pandemic,â Badger said. “Every group tried to book. It’s only a few weeks in the summer.”
With this, Badger takes an easy approach.
“It will gain ground,” he said.
“It’s exciting to just go out and play a few dates.”
Dark Desert Eagles with Guests Scott Brown and Diplomats, 1:00 p.m. July 17 (doors open 11:30 a.m.), Indian Ranch, 200 Gore Road Webster. Tickets $ 25 general admission; children $ 10; indianranch.com.