They’re the new kids in town

Glenn Frey’s son and Vince Gill will help Ea­gles soar for Clas­sic West-East shows.

Los Angeles Times - - CALENDAR - By Randy Lewis

Can an iconic rock band that’s lost a key mem­ber con­tinue? Or should it?

Found­ing mem­bers of the Who — Pete Town­shend and Roger Dal­trey — have kept that band alive de­spite the deaths of drum­mer Keith Moon in 1978 and of bassist John En­twistle in 2002. The Grate­ful Dead es­sen­tially re­tired that band’s name af­ter lead gui­tarist Jerry Gar­cia died in 1995, though sur­viv­ing mem­bers have toured in var­i­ous com­bi­na­tions and names since then.

Queen has found new life and new fans tour­ing with “Amer­i­can Idol” alum Adam Lam­bert singing the parts orig­i­nally voiced by Fred­die Mer­cury, who died in 1991.

And now the Ea­gles are about to fly again with­out the mu­si­cian widely viewed as its leader and chief mu­si­cal ar­chi­tect.

Sur­viv­ing mem­bers have turned to one fam­ily mem­ber and one long­time friend to help it through this tran­si­tion: Dea­con Frey, the 24year-old son of Ea­gles co­founder Glenn Frey, who died last year, and coun­try mu­sic star Vince Gill.

The quin­tes­sen­tial South­ern Cal­i­for­nia coun­try rock en­sem­ble formed in the early 1970s in Los An­ge­les and is set to head­line a twopronged, bi­coastal fes­ti­val, Clas­sic West and Clas­sic East, along­side Fleet­wood Mac, Steely Dan, Earth Wind & Fire, the Doo­bie Broth­ers and Jour­ney.

Dea­con Frey and Gill will divvy up lead vo­cals on the songs Glenn Frey sang with the Ea­gles.

“While I was still in shock dur­ing some in­ter­views af­ter Glenn passed away, I did say that I thought that was the end of the band,” Ea­gles co­founder Don Hen­ley, 69, said re­cently af­ter re­hearsals for the fes­ti­vals, set for July 15 and 16 at Dodger Sta­dium and July 29 and 30 at Citi Field in New York.

“But I re­served the right to change my mind. Ralph Waldo Emer­son said, ‘A fool­ish con­sis­tency is the hob­gob­lin of lit­tle minds.’ ”

To hear Hen­ley — and Gill — tell it, it’s the prospect of keep­ing Frey’s songs alive that has mo­ti­vated the de­ci­sion to move for­ward.

“In my mind, I al­ways thought I’d have made a good Ea­gle,” said a smil­ing Gill, whose 21 Grammy Awards make him the most awarded male coun­try artist in Grammy his­tory.

“But in a mil­lion years, I never would have seen this com­ing. It’s pretty sur­real. I turned 60 re­cently, and to get to be a part of this amaz­ing legacy of songs, that’s the great­est part of all this for me.”

Dea­con Frey per­formed some of his fa­ther’s songs at a pri­vate memo­rial ser­vice held not long af­ter Glenn died Jan. 18, 2016, at age 67.

“Af­ter he saw Dea­con at that ser­vice, Don al­ways said that ‘If there’s ever go­ing to be a gig for all of us, I would want Dea­con to be part of it,’ ” Irv­ing Azoff, the Ea­gles’ long­time man­ager, said in a sep­a­rate in­ter­view. “It was the nat­u­ral thing.”

The idea of Gill came up when he was at the Kennedy Cen­ter Hon­ors pro­gram in De­cem­ber salut­ing the Ea­gles.

“I think with Glenn’s pass­ing, there was also a nat­u­ral le­gion of Ea­gles fans out there who weren’t ready to let go,” Azoff said. “To me, the fans and the legacy and ev­ery­thing was say­ing, ‘It doesn’t have to be over.’ ”

Hen­ley said he’s heard more pos­i­tive than neg­a­tive re­sponse since word first sur­faced ear­lier this year about the Azoff-de­signed Clas­sic West and East fes­ti­vals.

“Bring­ing Dea­con in was my idea,” Hen­ley said. “I think of the guild sys­tem, which in both East­ern and Western cul­tures is a cen­turies-old tra­di­tion of the fa­ther pass­ing down the trade to his son, and to me, that makes per­fect moral and eth­i­cal sense. The pri­mary thing is I think Glenn would be good with it — with both of these guys. I think he’d go, ‘That’s the per­fect way to do this.’ ”

The strong fam­ily fac­tor is im­pos­si­ble to miss. “They came to me with the idea, and it’s been re­ally great,” Dea­con Frey said. “You guys are like my un­cles. It’s an­other fam­ily we would have been miss­ing [if the band did not con­tinue].”

Dea­con said he grew up singing Ea­gles mu­sic. “The first songs I learned on gui­tar were ‘Take It Easy’ and ‘Peace­ful Easy Feel­ing.’ He was al­ways very sup­port­ive and very en­cour­ag­ing of my mu­sic and my love for mu­sic. He got me a gui­tar when I was 7 — a baby Tay­lor.”

His mother, Cindy Frey, was beam­ing af­ter see­ing her son emerge from his first ma­jor in­ter­view fol­low­ing the re­hearsal. Not sur­pris­ingly, given what a sports hound Glenn Frey was through­out his life, she turned to a base­ball metaphor to cap­ture the mo­ment.

“Ev­ery day you show up and they give you a new ball,” she said.

Added Hen­ley, “He doesn’t have to do this for­ever. Some­day, if he de­cides to write his own songs and have his own band, we’ll be the first to sup­port him. But this is a good way to break in.”

Much about the 2017 ver­sion of the Ea­gles ver­sion still hasn’t been fi­nal­ized. Hen­ley de­scribed the fes­ti­val ap­pear­ances as “ex­per­i­ments.”

“We’re just go­ing to see how it goes,” he said. “We have ev­ery rea­son to be­lieve it’ll go just fine. Then it’s Irv­ing’s ball.”

Like­wise, Hen­ley said no de­ci­sions had been made to record, broad­cast or stream any of the July shows for im­me­di­ate or fu­ture artis­tic or com­mer­cial gain.

“There’s a lot of pres­sure on us right now,” he said. “We’re not too keen on adding to that pres­sure. I’m sure Irv­ing is go­ing to bring it up at some point… I’m not say­ing that’s not go­ing to hap­pen. I’m just say­ing no­body’s brought it up yet.”

More tick­ets are be­ing re­leased for the shows now that the stage de­signs have been fin­ished. Azoff said or­ga­niz­ers are also mak­ing avail­able sin­gle-day tick­ets af­ter ini­tially hav­ing sold only week­end passes. Those will go on sale Mon­day.

Many have cited Gold­en­voice’s 2016 Desert Trip fes­ti­val, which fea­tured Bob Dy­lan, the Rolling Stones, Paul McCart­ney and more, as set­ting the tem­plate for the Clas­sic West and East shows.

“The Ea­gles and I have been hav­ing con­ver­sa­tions about do­ing some­thing with Fleet­wood Mac and Steely Dan and oth­ers at some point in a fes­ti­val sit­u­a­tion long be­fore Desert Trip,” Azoff said. “But I can’t say that Desert Trip didn’t val­i­date the idea.”

For now, no one has com­mit­ted yet to a Clas­sic East­ern Seaboard ver­sion, Clas­sic North­west or Clas­sic Up­per Mid­west coun­ter­part.

All that hinges on how all par­ties feel about re­viv­ing the Ea­gles with­out the man who helped the group first take flight.

“Peo­ple want to hear these songs played live, by the band that recorded them — and not by a trib­ute band,” Hen­ley said. “God knows, there are enough of those. And even though it’s not ex­actly the same band, they want to hear the songs.

“I think we’re do­ing it in a highly eth­i­cal man­ner that I think Glenn would ap­prove of. That’s im­por­tant to me, it’s im­por­tant to Glenn’s fam­ily. If there are some de­trac­tors, then there are some de­trac­tors. I’m not go­ing to spend a lot of time de­fend­ing this, be­cause I don’t see any­thing wrong with it. I think we’re car­ry­ing on a fam­ily tra­di­tion in a very fam­ily type way.”

Myr­iam San­tos

DON Hen­ley, left, Dea­con Frey, Joe Walsh, Vince Gill and Ti­mothy B. Sch­mit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.