Ea­gles will not fly again, Hen­ley says

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

THE Ea­gles are fin­ished.

Don Hen­ley is di­rect. The way he de­scribes it, the group he helped lead since 1971 died with his long­time mu­si­cal part­ner Glenn Frey.

“I don’t see how we could go out and play with­out the guy who started the band,” says Hen­ley.

He sits in­side the Tu­dor man­sion in Lin­coln, Mas­sachusetts, that serves as the head­quar­ters for the Walden Woods Project. Hen­ley founded the non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion in 1990 to pro­tect the land that in­spired 19th-cen­tury tran­scen­den­tal­ist Henry David Thoreau. He flew here for this interview, a re­minder of how he has al­ways sep­a­rated what is pub­lic, be­ing in one of Amer­ica’s most pop­u­lar bands, from the pri­vate, his life as a hus­band and father in Texas.

This should have been a time to cel­e­brate. On De­cem­ber 4, the three sur­viv­ing mem­bers of the fi­nal edi­tion of the Ea­gles – Hen­ley, gui­tarist Joe Walsh, bassist Ti­mothy B. Sch­mit, all of them 69 – will re­ceive Kennedy Cen­ter Hon­ors. But Frey’s death in Jan­uary, from com­pli­ca­tions brought on by years of bat­tling rheuma­toid arthri­tis and col­i­tis, has cast a bit­ter­sweet cloud over the pro­ceed­ings. Cindy Frey will be given her late hus­band’s medal­lion.

The Kennedy Cen­ter ac­tu­ally awarded the Ea­gles last year, but the band de­ferred in hopes that Frey would get bet­ter.

They had no rea­son to ex­pect oth­er­wise. Frey had sto­ically man­aged his health for decades and, in the sum­mer of 2015, the Ea­gles wrapped up a mas­sive tour. Frey headed to Hawaii with his fam­ily. He got sick and flew home for treat­ment. The drugs that helped him man­age the pain com­pro­mised his im­mune sys­tem, caus­ing Frey to get pneu­mo­nia. Doc­tors in­duced a coma from which he would never re­cover. Frey died Jan­uary 18 at the Co­lum­bia Uni­ver­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter in New York. He was 67.

A month later, the Ea­gles gath­ered on stage to per­form a trib­ute at the Grammy Awards. Jack­son Browne stood in for Frey on “Take It Easy”, a song he co-wrote. That week, Hen­ley, Walsh and Sch­mit also per­formed at a pri­vate memo­rial with sev­eral guest singers, in­clud­ing Glenn’s son, Dea­con. That may be the last time they play to­gether.

“It would just seem like greed or some­thing,” says Hen­ley. “It would seem like a des­per­ate thing.”

The Ea­gles have bat­tled crit­ics, con­ven­tions and each other, but they’ve never seemed des­per­ate. Over time, the band sold more than 150 mil­lion al­bums and filled are­nas from Cleve­land to China. They also rein­vented them­selves, more than once. Dur­ing their 1970s run, the Ea­gles be­came fa­mous for not only the mu­sic – Their Great­est Hits (1971-1975) is the best-sell­ing al­bum of the 20th cen­tury in the United States – but also their no­to­ri­ous back­stage par­ties, the self-de­scribed “third en­core”. Fewer peo­ple saw the less glam­orous side, the process that led to all those hits, peak­ing with 1976’s mas­ter­piece, Ho­tel Cal­i­for­nia. The ti­tle track achieved world­wide fame, and even to­day, most taxi driv­ers in Yan­gon can sing the cho­rus.

The Ea­gles did it through hard work, a sta­ble of writ­ers com­pet­ing for lim­ited space and by be­ing un­will­ing to set­tle for a sloppy take when an­other run-through might bring per­fec­tion.

“When this band started,” says Bernie Leadon, the group’s first gui­tarist, “we said, ‘We want it all. Crit­i­cal ac­claim, artis­tic suc­cess and fi­nan­cial suc­cess.’ It wasn’t like we want to make a pretty good al­bum so our girl­friends like us. No, it was ‘we want to be the best f---ing band there is”.

The in­ten­sity of that quest took its toll.

In 1975, worn out from the road, Leadon dumped a beer over Frey’s head and quit. He later apol­o­gised and, nearly 40 years later, the band hired him to take part in the group’s “His­tory of the Ea­gles” tour.

On the night of July 29, 2015, Leadon and Frey hud­dled to­gether off­stage in Bossier City, Louisiana, as the crowd cheered. They were wait­ing to re­turn for a fi­nal en­core. This would be the group’s last real gig. You wouldn’t know it from what Frey said next.

“He gave me a big, huge thanks for par­tic­i­pat­ing,” re­mem­bers Leadon. “Then he said, ‘It’s been re­ally awe­some to have you back out there. This is not the end.’”

– The Wash­ing­ton Post

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