Black Tie becomes Meisner, Swan & Rich – 1985

Black Tie was a country rock super group formed by Randy Meisner, Jimmy Griffin, and Billy Swan in 1985. Jimmy Griffin was a former member of Bread, and Billy Swan had the hit single “I Can Help”. Rob Perkin (Executive Producer) and Reggie Fisher (Producer) started talking about the idea of putting together a group in 1984.

Producer, Reggie Fisher, had been working with Billy Swan recording songs, so he got Jimmy Griffin and Randy Meisner to join him, which began Black Tie. The Black Tie album “When the Night Falls” was recorded and produced by Reggie Fisher and T-Bone Burnett and released in 1985 by Bench Records. Then, in 1990 it was released on CD with Jimmy Griffin replacing Randy Meisner on lead vocal for “Learning the Game”. The audio of the original 1985 version of “Learning the Game” with Randy singing is below.

Bernie Leadon played guitar with Black Tie until about mid-January 1986. He was then replaced by Blondie Chaplin, formerly with the Beach Boys.

When Jimmy Griffin left Black Tie to form another band called the Remingtons, Charlie Rich, Jr. joined Black Tie. According to Charlie’s website he joined Black Tie in 1992. They eventually renamed the band and called it Meisner, Rich and Swan. Because of a printing error of their band name on the cover of their CD, they had to change their name to Meisner, Swan and Rich.

After Black Tie and before Meisner, Swan & Rich:

  • Rick Roberts (former Burrito Brother) was just starting a new band. Randy joined him, and they became the Roberts-Meisner Band in early 1987. They never recorded an album, but they did play a lot of gigs for a couple of years.
  • In early 1989 he next participates in the Poco reunion, and the Poco “Legacy” album is recorded. After the “Legacy” album and a couple years of touring with Poco is finished, Black Tie reunites briefly.
  • A radio DJ started playing the Black Tie single “Learning the Game” again, which brought Black Tie some attention again. They decided to record another EP, which is only available for online listening. It’s called “Black Tie Two”, and has three songs on it. The audios of those three songs are near the end of this page. Since Jimmy Griffin left Black Tie, Charlie Rich Jr. joined them in 1992 for “Black Tie Two”.
  • The three eventually changed their name to Meisner, Rich & Swan. Then, it was changed to Meisner, Swan & Rich due to their CD cover being misprinted with the wrong name. Meisner, Swan & Rich continued to perform (sometimes called the Randy Meisner Band) until Randy joined the World Classic Rockers.
  • In 1997 Randy joined the World Classic Rockers. He performed with them until his retirement in 2008.
  • Interspersed through all these years, Randy performed as a guest on stage for different bands or as a solo performer from time to time, as well.

“When the Night Falls” vinyl album front and back cover – 1985
John Exley, photographer
Location is the La Serre Restaurant on Ventura Blvd.

On the back of the album cover it is printed that the album release date was 1985, and 1985 is also mentioned in several other sources. However, the circular label on the record (see below) has 1986 as the year. (The image of the record label below is the actual record from my personal collection.) I don’t know why the discrepancy in years, unless it was just simply a printing error during the production of the album.

Black Tie

Randy Meisner singing “Learning the Game” – 1985 version

“When the Night Falls” CD front and back of 1990 reissue

“The Real Music Observer” channel on YouTube featured Randy Meisner and Black Tie in July 2020 in a short six-minute segment.

Black Tie excerpts from the book:
Bread: A Sweet Surrender

The Musical Journey of David Gates, James Griffin & Co.

by Malcolm C. Searles

(It’s a good book to read, especially if you’re a Bread fan.
The excerpts below give a very brief chronology of Black Tie.)

Richard Walton 1986, photographer/

The two Billboard articles mentioned on page 233 were both in Billboard’s “Nashville Scene” column and are below on this page.

Bread excerpts 3 1066366996 e1677030718235

The party for the release of Black Tie’s “When the Night Falls” album was held at La Serre Restaurant on Ventura Blvd. La Serre’s is the restaurant pictured on the album cover.

Black Tie

Cash Box – July 27, 1985

Black Tie

Cash Box – Aug. 17, 1985

Black Tie’s single “If You Gotta Make A Fool of Somebody”, sung by Jimmy Griffin, was played on the daytime soap opera, Days of Our Lives.

Black Tie

The Gavin Report full-page ad – Sept. 6, 1985

“In addition to the possible Bread reunion, Griffin has been working lately on Black Tie, a band that includes former Eagle Randy Meisner and Billy (I Can Help) Swan. They’re about to release their first album.

“A Black Tie single, ‘If You Gotta Make A Fool of Somebody’ has already been released.”

The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) – Sept. 14, 1985

Black Tie’s first public performance was at “Street Scene” in Los Angeles Sept. 28, 1985.

LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – Sept. 27, 1985

LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – Sept. 27, 1985

“Tonight the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach will see the first club performance of a new band featuring former members of the Eagles and Bread. Black Tie made its first public performance at the Los Angeles Street Scene in September. But tonight’s local appearance marks the beginning of what Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Billy Swan, Jimmy Griffin and David Kemper hope will be a long touring career.”

Times-Advocate (Escondido, CA) – Nov. 14, 1985

“…the first club appearance of Black Tie (Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Jimmy Griffin and Billy Swan) was an eventful club debut with all the earmarks of a beginning of a successful longterm venture.”

Black Tie

Times-Advocate (Escondido, CA) – Nov. 28, 1985

Black Tie

LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – Dec. 11, 1985

Black Tie

LA Weekly (Los Angeles, CA) – Dec. 12, 1985

Billboard magazine – Dec. 14, 1985

Billboard magazine – Mar. 1, 1986

Black Tie

Canarsie Courier (Brooklyn, NY) – Jan. 23, 1986

Black Tie

Citizens’ Voice (Wilkes-Barre, PA) – Jan. 29, 1986

“And at Jonathan Swift’s, there’ll be a blend of folk-rock and rockabilly from Black Tie, the new band featuring ex-members of the Eagles, Bread and the Beach Boys.”

Black Tie

Boston Globe (Boston, MA) – Jan. 30, 1986

According to this article, Blondie Chaplin replaced Bernie Leadon around mid-January 1986.

“With the help of producer Reggie Fisher, Black Tie has constructed a seamless musical unit that has recorded a masterful rock album called When the Night Falls (Bench Records).”

Black Tie

St. Louis Post-Dispatch – (St. Louis, MO) – Feb. 6, 1986

Black Tie

Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, GA) – Feb. 7, 1986

Black Tie

Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, GA) – Feb. 8, 1986

“In addition to Meisner, there are those of Billy Swan, who also plays guitar, Jimmy Griffin, who plays guitar and piano; and Blondie Chaplin, who plays guitar. The non-lead singers in the group are keyboardist George Michalski and drummer David Kemper.”

Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, GA) – Feb. 8, 1986

“As the original bassist for the Eagles, Meisner was heard on the first five albums by the massively popular California group before leaving to be replaced by Timothy Schmit. Meisner has since embarked on a solo career and appears on Black Tie’s newly released When the Night Falls album, which also features Swan and Griffin.”

Black Tie

The Tennessean (Nashville, TN) – Feb. 9, 1986

Black Tie performed at Music Fest ’86 in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, on June 7, 1986

1986 June 1 Star Herald

Star-Herald (Scottsbluff, NE) – June 1, 1986

Black Tie

Gering Courier (Gering, NE) – June 19, 1986

Black Tie

LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – June 29, 1986

Black Tie

Cash Box – Nov. 24, 1990

Black Tie on the cover of Cash Box magazine – Dec. 22, 1990

Black Tie

Cash Box – Dec. 22, 1990
Billy Swan, Jimmy Griffin, and Randy Meisner – John Exley, photographer

Inside cover of Cash Box – Dec. 22, 1990

Black Tie

Cash Box – Dec. 22, 1990

Black Tie

Cash Box full-page ad – Dec. 29, 1990

Billboard magazine – Jan. 19, 1991

Billboard magazine – Mar. 9, 1991

Randy Meisner with Kip Brown at his store, Ear Candy, in Van Nuys, CA – Sept. 24, 1991
Ear Candy is now an online store

Billy Swan (a friend of Kip’s) was with Randy and took this photo.

kip brown

Charlie Rich, Jr.’s thoughts and observations of Randy Meisner and Billy Swan:

“Randy would usually bring some donuts and coffee. Maple donuts, by the way. Then we would rehearse all morning, take a lunch break, grab a falafel, and right back for more rehearsals.”

“Then we just went over to Houston’s studio and cut the album. It didn’t take long either. We used the same players that we used in our road band, Vern Monnett on steel guitar and lead guitar, John Molo on drums, Randy on bass, me on keys, and Billy Swan on rhythm guitar. Then the three of us went in and did the backing vocals.”

charlierichjr dot com randy meisner 1 4

“Eventually Billy and I would start another group with Randy Meisner. This time it would be called very simply, Meisner, Swan & Rich.”

Black Tie
Black Tie

Charlie Rich, Jr., John Godley, Randy Meisner, and Billy Swan

“Black Tie Two” released Aug. 30, 2006 as an online EP
It only included three songs. Audios are below.

Black Tie

Top clockwise: Reggie Fisher (Producer), Randy Meisner, Jimmy Griffin, and Billy Swan
John Exley, photographer

1. Away In A Manger – Billy Swan

2. Listen to the Radio – Billy Swan

3. I’m Sure of You – Charlie Rich, Jr.

6 thoughts on “Black Tie becomes Meisner, Swan & Rich – 1985

Add yours

  1. What an interesting article. Thank you Diana for all your hard work in researching and putting it all together.

  2. One of the best concerts ever was Meisner, Rich and Swan in Seattle and Woodland Park Zoo, summer 1993. The harmonies were fantastic, and the band was tight. All of the guys were great to meet, too. Randy signed my Rudy the Fifth album and mentioned what a great guy Rick Nelson was to work with. I’m a big Jimmy Griffin fan, too. Love the Black Tie albums.

    1. That’s wonderful that you got to see them perform. I never did, but at least I can listen to the songs. I have a few pics of that 1993 Zoo concert, and Randy was in his ‘salt and pepper beard’ phase then. I need to get those photos on this site!

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