Henley moved from Texas to Los Angeles in 1970 to record an album with his early band, Shiloh. Shortly thereafter, Henley met Glenn Frey through Amos Records in Los Angeles. They both became members of Linda Ronstadt's backup band and in 1971 co-founded The Eagles. The first Eagles album was released in 1972 and contained the hit song "Take it easy." The band broke up in 1980; during the Eagles' existence Henley wrote or co-wrote most of the band's best-known songs, notably "Desperado" and "Hotel California".
Following the breakup of the Eagles, Henley embarked on a successful solo career. His first solo release, 1982's I Can't Stand Still, was a moderate seller and was followed two years later by Building the Perfect Beast, which featured layered synthesizers and was a marked departure from the Eagles' country-rock sound. A single release, "The Boys of Summer", reached #1 on the Billboard pop charts (the song would become a hit again in 2003 for The Ataris). Henley's next album, 1989's The End of the Innocence, was equally successful. A long period without a new recording followed, as Henley waited out a dispute with his record company and participated in an Eagles reunion tour and live album. Henley finally released another solo studio recording, Inside Job, in 2000.