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 Don Henley & Glenn Frey - In Their Own Words

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Don was the serious Eagle and the writer of the group's more intense songs. He provided steady drumming with a husky vocal style and has been brilliant in his solo career as well. A wild personality and a fine vocalist, Glenn was more the pop writer in the Eagles. Between him and Don, they seemed unstoppable.

Don Henleyhe Troubadour was the first place I went to when I got to L.A. I had heard about how legendary it was, and all the people who were performing there. The first night I walked in I saw Graham Nash and Neil Young, and Linda Ronstadt was standing there in a little Daisy Mae kind of dress. She was barefooted and scratching her ass. I thought, "I've made it. I'm here. I'm in heaven."

I really didn't know anybody. I just hung around the Troubadour by myself. It was kind of pathetic, really. But one night Glenn Frey invited me over to his table and bought me a beer. He said, "What's going on?"

The Eagles' Seventies
Billboard Top 40 Singles

"Take It Easy"  6/72  #12
"Witchy Woman"  9/72  #9
"Peaceful Easy Feeling"  2/73  #22
"Already Gone"  6/74  #32
"Best Of My Love"  12/74  #1
"One Of These Nights"  6/75  #1
"Lyin' Eyes"  9/75  #2
"Take It To The Limit"  1/76  #4
"New Kid In Town"  12/76  #1
"Hotel California"  3/77  #1
"Life In The Fast Lane"  5/77  #11
"Please Come Home For Christmas"  12/78  #18
"Heartache Tonight"  10/79  #1
"The Long Run"  10/79  #8

I said, "My group's not doing anything. Things are a drag. One of the guys left to go play with the Burrito Brothers."

And Glenn said, "Me and my partner are breaking up, too. And there's this guy named David Geffen," who I didn't know from Adam, "and there may be a deal in the works if a band could be put together."

I said, "That's nice."

And he said, "In the meantime, do you want to go on the road with Linda Ronstadt and make 200 bucks a week?"

I said, "Sure, fine, I'd love it." I'd never really been on the road before. So Glenn and I became good friends and we started plotting and planning. He told me about Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon, who had been with Poco and the Burritos, respectively. Glenn said we needed to get those guys because they could play the kind of country rock we were all so interested in. So when we got back from being on the road with Linda, we recruited those guys. We didn't all agree on things from the beginning, but we were so enamored of one another that it was OK for a while.

Then Geffen talked Glyn Johns into listening to us. Glyn said that although we needed a lot of work, he'd produce us in London. So they packed us off to England and stuck us in this little apartment, picked us up, took us to the studio, and then we'd go back to this little apartment and drink ourselves to sleep. Then we'd get up the next day and do it all over again.

As we got into making more albums, Glenn and I would go through a series of moving in together and then moving out. We'd have girlfriends and live with them for a while, and then we'd get ready to do an album and we'd move back in together. Dudes on a rampage.

By '76, '77, Glenn and I were living in a big house that belonged to Dorothy Lamour, up in the hills with a 360-degree view. Glenn and I were the odd couple. I was sort of the housekeeper, the tidy one. He was the lovable slob. All around the house he'd leave these little cigarette butts standing on end. They looked like miniature cities. Burns all over the furniture and carpet, coffee cups all over the place. We would get up every Sunday, watch football together, scream and yell, and spill things. It wasn't my house, I didn't care.

Don Henley

"Glenn and I were the odd couple. I was sort of the housekeeper, the tidy one. He was the lovable slob."

During the "One of These Nights"/"Hotel California" period, I lived in Irving Azoff's house on Benedict Canyon, and Glenn lived in Coldwater. I was in an upstairs corner bedroom of Irving's house. This was before Irving was married, and we were bacheloring it pretty good. It was during this time that I had my brief affair with Stevie Nicks. I remember the Eagles were on tour, and so was Fleetwood Mac. These were the extravagant days. One time I chartered a Lear jet and ran her to where I was, and for weeks I got a lot of shit about that from the band. If she had a couple of days off, she'd come over and go on the road with us for a while, and then I'd fly her back in time for wherever Fleetwood Mac was supposed to be. The affair with Stevie lasted off and on for a year or so, and we remain good friends today. But back then we coined the phrase, "Love 'em and Lear 'em."

Hey, Lear jets were a lot cheaper then, and when I speak of sending one for Stevie, that kind of thing did not happen every week. Once in a while we would do something completely over the top like that, and it was simply our way of coping with the absurdity of making so much money and being so famous at such an early age. We had to do absurd things sometimes just to be able to put it all in perspective. We would feel silly about it later, but we would laugh it off because we knew one day it would end. That's what the Desperado album was all about, how you get hung sooner or later, or hang yourself.

As we became more and more successful -- the Eagles, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, Linda -- it seemed to take us all away from one another. In a way, success separated all of us. In our hearts we were still good friends and mates and all that, but the salad days were gone. 

Glenn Freyhinking back over the nine-year period of the Eagles, it amazes me how single-minded Henley and I were. We could be in the studio for weeks at a time -- eating and sleeping and breathing what we were doing, the same way a kid who's infected with Little League baseball can't get it out of his system.

The Eagles were propelled by more than just ambition. At times, we were propelled by whatever we could get our hands on. Which means that some of those nine years went by in a blur. But in the beginning, we were the underdogs. That's how we thought of ourselves. We'd always say, "This guy is a better singer. That guy is a better player. These people write better songs than us."

Being around David Geffen, and in close proximity to Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, and Crosby, Stills and Nash, this unspoken thing was created between Henley and me, which said, "If we want to be up here with the big boys, we'd better get our game together and write some fucking good songs."

We were also like a keg of powder, waiting for someone to come in and light the fuse. We were serious about becoming successful, and we were serious about being taken seriously as songwriters.

The band was like a fake democracy. Henley and I were making the decisions while at the same time trying to pacify, include, and cajole the others. There was always so much turbulence around our band that it made us serious all the time. There was never a day when all five guys felt good. I'd think, "Who is gonna blow it today? Who's gonna want to fire everybody."

I will never have the patience to deal with all those kinds of personalities again, but at the time it was necessary to get to where we had to go, even though we didn't always get along.

You knew it when you were in a room with the Eagles. There was a certain intensity. Perhaps a lot of it was all bluff because we were really just a bunch of skinny little guys with long hair and patched pants and turquoise.

I was never tough, but I sure was mad. I think I was more for entertainment, and I think Henley was more for trying to get more out of your entertainment dollar. But underneath it all, we were best friends. We talked every day for seven or eight years. Every day, like roommates.

Splitting up the Eagles, though, was not because of a rift between Henley and me. There was a rift and that didn't help, but we had come to a point where we were running out of gas artistically. We had gone from being a band that could make an album in three weeks to a band that couldn't finish an album in three years.

In some ways, the success took a lot of the fun out of it. Putting pressure on ourselves also took a lot of the fun out of it. I think Henley took some of the fun out of it for me, and I'm sure I took some of the fun out of it for him. Looking back, I think the band lasted a couple of more years than I thought it would.

The Eagles' Seventies
Billboard Top 10 Albums

One Of These Nights  7/75  #1
Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975  3/76  #1
Hotel California  12/76  #1
The Long Run  10/79  #1

You don't want to be in a band in your thirties anyway. At least I didn't. It's like being a doctor or lawyer. You come out of school with some knowledge and talent and you start working with other people. Then you get your legs underneath you, and when you get to be thirty or so you want to take a shot at having your own practice.

Eagles Lyrics
Eagles Videos

The Eagles had its best chemistry when Don Felder and Joe Walsh were both in the band at the same time. Don and Joe were both tremendously gifted guitar players. Walsh is like an almanac. I could sit down at a piano at any given moment and play every song the Drifters ever recorded. But Joe can do the same thing with Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Page, and Eric Clapton. I mean, every single blues lick.

But it was rare when everyone in the band got along. We used to joke around and say we were like the Oakland A's -- as long as we got along on the field, it didn't matter what happened behind closed doors.

I really felt that when it came to getting people to play with, you didn't go around picking the nice guys, you found the guys who could play blues and rock 'n' roll, the guys who could take the Eagles up from a country rock band to a serious stadium filler. And it took the combined guitar talents of Joe Walsh and Don Felder to help us achieve that.

Unfortunately, what happens when you really make it is that you begin looking at your career in terms of how each album sold. The next one is always supposed to be bigger than the last, and so on. It's like Dylan said, "They deceived me into thinking I had something to protect."

Someone once asked Bob Seger why the Eagles broke up. He answered them in two words, "'Hotel California,'" because it was impossible to top.

For me, it ended in Long Beach, California, at a benefit for Alan Cranston. I felt Don Felder insulted Senator Cranston under his breath and I confronted him with it.

So now we're on stage, and Felder looks back at me and says, "Only three more songs till I kick your ass, pal."

And I'm saying, "Great. I can't wait."

We're out there singing "Best of My Love," but inside both of us are thinking, "As soon as this is over, I'm gonna kill him." That was when I knew I had to get out. 

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