In the summer of 1996, a group of us rented a van and followed the band along the East Coast. It was a memorable trip, that's for sure. Names have been changed to protect privacy.
"You girls be careful. Don't talk to any strangers."
"You're not going to be doing that thing where you pass bodies through the crowd, are you?"
"No, you don't need to call every day. I'll just keep telling myself that no news is good news."
"You're doing WHAT???? Do you know these people? Can you trust these people????"
All of our moms naturally had last minute words of advice. We knew when to call, who not to speak to and C. knew not to run up and down the aisles at the concert. We knew they had nothing to worry about, though. We were off on the adventure of a lifetime.
We (L., V., C., Lisa and Melissa) all assembled ourselves at L's house outside of Pittsburgh. We chose Pittsburgh because of their airport's strict safety standards (they finally got their lights working at night), strong rumors that L. and airplanes don't get along and the fact that it was a pretty central location. We rented a Dodge Grand Caravan, that surprisingly could fit all of our luggage (despite a prohibition from Dollar that we not haul anything on the roof). We set off early on Saturday morning fortified by donuts from L's mom and wet, sloppy kisses from Odie, the Dalmatian puppy.
Our first day's journey took us through scenic Pennsylvanian, West Virginian, Virginian, North and South Carolinian countryside. We passed through places with poetic names like Big Otter, decided that maybe we wouldn't be stopping at any more Hardees (despite their great kids meal toys), and gazed in wonder at THE BIG PEACH (a water tower that looks like a fuzzy peach from one angle and a part of the lower anatomy from another).
Finally, we made it to our first destination...Clemson, South Carolina, a sleepy college town ripe with anticipation for the big rock concert the next day. Checking into the Ramada, we hooked up with R. and S. and spent the evening laughing, talking, eating pizza, looking at pictures and getting ready for the show the next night. The next day, A. and L2 arrived and we also got to meet a new friend, T.. It was time for our first Eagles show of 1996.
Clemson, South Carolina - June 16, 1996
Traffic was heavy driving into Death Valley (the cute, friendly name these South Carolinans gave their sports stadium). Other people seemed to have the right idea and had erected tents, lawn chairs and webers for pre-game festivities. Local frats were replenishing their coffers after graduation parties by charging concert-goers for the privilege of parking on their frat house lawns. Heck, you know its damn festive when not only can you order boiled peanuts, but you can get a job selling them on the spot.
V. had a sure fire method for finding primo parking spots and it paid off. In no time flat, we were in the stadium, ensconced in our really crappy seats and were setting new world records for sweating (oops, A. and L2 are from the south--they were perspiring). As we pondered how anyone could keep cotton candy from melting in the 100 degree heat, we were approached by D. from Ohio. We had been looking forward to meeting her, but didn't have much time to chat before the show got underway.
David Spero, Joe's manager, played the proud papa as The Michael Stanley band, a member of his talented stable, took the stage to warm up the already physically hot crowd. The tickets said the show started at 6....it was already 7 pm and no sign of the Eagles....but wait, we did have great seats for viewing the backstage area right outside the dressing room (of course we had to use high powered binoculars). Joe Walsh was walking around and Scott Crago could occasionally be seen attending to something or another. We're sure the Michael Stanley Band is a great group of musicians with something important to say, but to be honest, in the heat and the excitement, the only thing we can remember is that they sang a song about underwear.
Finally, we heard the familiar lie as Tim Lamb told the crowd the Eagles would be taking the stage in 5 minutes. It wasn't really all that dark, but 15 minutes later, the familiar sounds of thunder and the faint flashes of lightening filled Death Valley. It's easy to become jaded after seeing the show more than once, but it was pretty incredible. Five tiny guys took the stage. We were leaning over the heads in front of us to get a better look. A. grabbed Lisa's hand for support and announced breathlessly, "They're BLUE!!!!!" And she wasn't talking about Henley's eyes. Yes, the band was dressed for comfort on this hot night and that meant that Henley had donned (don't you love using that word in conjunction w/ Henley's clothing?) nothing but a white t-shirt and blue jeans. We were further astounded to see that Don was also wearing sneakers. Joe and Glenn were attired in their familiar t's and loose fitting guy shirts, Felder was wearing his brown leather vest, white shirt and blue jeans and Tim was wearing something maroon (sorry C, we're drawing a blank here). They were fantastic. Every note was in place, every harmony right on, and everyone was SMILING. They looked like they were having the time of their lives up there on stage...and those of us in the audience were having a similar experience.
We were a bit disappointed that the set list didn't seem to have changed, but we were really pleasantly surprised when right before what should have been "Girl From Yesterday" Glenn announced that those who may have seen the show before were in for a few surprises. They didn't wait a second to surprise us and launched right into "Peaceful Easy Feeling". There, under the open sky of the stadium, in the sweltering summer night, there couldn't have been a more perfect song. Joe's "Ordinary Average Guy" was its usual lighthearted self. We noticed that the slide show had changed a little over the break and now included pictures of the crew on the Australian leg frolicking with various members of the marsupial family. We didn't want to know.
Much too soon it was time for the intermission. We spent it rehashing the first part of the show and eagerly anticipating what surprises were around the corner. As the lights came up for "Tequila Sunrise" we noticed how beautiful the lighting was. We had never noticed so many colors before and even from the distance we were at, it was an eye-catching show. Between songs, Glenn mumbled something about it being Father's Day and that it was the first time all 5 Eagles were fathers.
The second part of the show did not disappoint. The whole stadium was on their feet from "You Belong to the City" to the last strains of "Take it Easy". Probably the most heart-stopping moment of the evening came when instead of the opening to "Smuggler's Blues," the band launched into "The Heat is On." We had never thought we would hear this song live...at least not done by the Eagles. Melissa went into some sort of screaming fit and even garnered the concern of a nearby topless drunk guy. We were right, though. Henley was no where near a microphone during the 'Whoa oh oh oh's". He just calmly played an intricate pattern on that classic rock instrument...the cowbell.
The surprises weren't over, though, and neither was the great music. All of them were in top form, but we were a little concerned about Joe who seemed under the weather. Don Felder smiled and smiled, and Timothy's voice was as clear and as beautiful as when he was in Poco. The first encore included a very interpretive version of "All She Wants to Do is Dance". Henley half sang, half spoke the song in a sort of sexy Rod McKeun sort of way. Let's just say we were all excited.
The show then proceeded in the normal way with "Rocky Mountain Way", "Already Gone", "Desperado" and "Take it Easy". Needless to say, that night, Death Valley was very much alive.
Greensboro, North Carolina- June 17, 1996
We were sitting in the Embassy Suites in Greensboro and we were very nervous. In fact, we had V. and C. continually running down to the bar for free happy hour beer while we passed the time waiting for the film crew to get there....let's backtrack just a little.
The day after Clemson, we drove back up to Greensboro, NC for yet another show. During the haul, we persuaded LT, our stalwart driver to make a stop at THE BIG PEACH. We even videotaped it. We found out later from D. that there had even been postcards available. Stops at the souvenir stand were not allowed for us.
All five of us checked into one suite and began to get ready for the show. That's when D. called us. She had a deal for us. D is a news producer in Columbus, Ohio and had arranged for us to be featured on the local news. None of us felt very photogenic, but we had our arms twisted. As we all rushed to get a little more photogenic, we watched the same folks who were supposed to come film us on the 5 o'clock news. We were a little dismayed to hear from the reporter that THIS WAS IT FOREVER FROM THE EAGLES. That seemed a little odd since only a few days before, Henley had said himself that they were going to wait to talk about things. We decided to nail the news crew on this bit of BS they were feeding the masses.
Eventually, Beth (perkiness personified) and her cameraman Brian invaded our suite. They wanted pictures of everything. Pictures of the Web page, pictures of our ticket stubs, pictures of our dirty pizza dishes. We gave them a short interview and then Lisa flipped through one of the photo albums while Brian filmed. He asked a few questions.
Beth and Brian thought they were being cute by following us out to the car to film us getting into the van (they intended on playing "Life in the Fast Lane" to close the piece). We were driving to the venue when the news van pulled up alongside of us and started filming again. We thought we had lost them. We got to the show, parked and were walking in when there was Brian again. He wanted to film us going through the turnstiles. Thankfully, he didn't follow us any longer. We could now concentrate on the show.
We had seats in the very back of the arena, but that let us take in the full stage. The show was just as phenomenal as the night before. Highlights included Glenn actually licking the microphone during "You Belong to the City" and then sitting on the side of the stage for "Rocky Mountain Way
It's too bad some enterprising soul didn't rip his ugly bowling type shoes from his feet and make a run for it.
After the show, we tiredly, but happily, made our way back to the hotel. By the way, it was Melissa's birthday and by midnight it had turned into C's birthday. What a way to party.
Virginia Beach, Virginia - June 19, 1996
"Dammit, when are they going to show the local forecast? They keep showing the European weather!...okay wait, there it is. Geez, it looks like its heading right for here....someone look outside. It's raining."
"Maybe if we had stopped at the CBN visitor's center like I wanted to, we wouldn't be having this problem. Pat Robertson could personally be taking care of this little weather problem for us."
"Shut up, Melissa!"
Weather was on everyone's mind in the Hampton Inn in Virginia Beach. The Atlantic was experiencing its first tropical depression of the season...almost right over where the next concert was going to take place. We knew the band was RnRing it in Hilton Head, SC and we were worried that they could even get out of there with current weather conditions. This was one show that couldn't be canceled. We had 2nd row seats.
The day of the show, with an anxious eye to the weather, we had a great lunch at the Olive Garden with quite a group of online friends. Ch had organized the entire fete. Our little group (D and K had become auxiliary members) had picked up P (who thankfully had decided not to fly Valu-Jet) and at the restaurant, we met B, A, J and her mom. Ch had also arranged for a local reporter to be present. So, over laughter and pasta, we all told our tales. After the group picture, we made a bee-line for the arts and craft store because we had wanted to make a few signs for the show.
The sun finally came out allowing us to go for a swim and to then prepare for the show. Little did we know that this evening was going to be the highlight of the entire trip!
The seats were awesome. We personally had never sat so close to the stage before. It was incredible...we were so close we could see that the amps were set at 9 (not 11?). We were a little off to Tim's side, but that didn't matter. We could see everything. Shortly before the show started we got a nice surprise. Sitting right next to us was a WT subscriber and his young daughter. We hope they had a great time.
(From this point on, all Eagle "encounters" experienced by us in the 2nd row were verified by at least 2 people. If they actually did not occur or if they are a product of our over-active, over interpretive imaginations FOR LAND'S SAKE, LET US HAVE OUR LITTLE FANTASIES). We knew it was going to be an interesting show when Timothy Drury and Scott Crago took the stage and seemed to be looking for someone in the audience. Let us explain.
Timothy had recently posted on America Online about his new album. While on the trip, we had briefly exchanged e-mails and had told him that we would all wave at him from the 2nd row. We certainly had no intentions of frightening him. He came out, we all waved. He waved back. It was a great way to start the show.
Everything from the 2nd row seemed bigger and brighter and more animated. Our eyes were glued to the stage. We could see how TimothyS. kind of leered while he played, we could see the designs on Joe's shirt, we could see the little droplets of singing by-product (spit) emanating from Glenn's mouth, we could see that WONDERFUL smile on Don Felder's face....the only thing we couldn't see was Henley's head. It was hiding behind a cymbal....but that was okay. Even the sound was better in the second row. We could hear little nuances and the stage talk between songs. We were in HEAVEN for the first set. It was only going to get better.
During intermission, Scott Crago came down into the seats with a fistful of drumsticks which he proceeded to distribute to the kids in the first few rows. We were thinking that maybe we could pass V off as an eleven year old, but it didn't work.
Words cannot describe what it was like for all of us during the acoustic set. We won't even try. After "You Belong..." Glenn introduced the backup guys and we held up a sign with Timothy Drury's screen name just so that he would understand that we weren't any group of freaks sitting in the 2nd row...we were HIS freaks. The connection was made. Then Don came out for "Boys of Summer". Tim S. grabbed him before the song started and gestured over by us. Don squinted and then nodded and then told Frey (and we all saw this) "That's them." Glenn then looked at us and laughed. We weren't sure if this was a good thing, but we sure got excited. We all continued to make eye-contact with the band throughout the rest of the show. Don Felder was certainly amused by us (not as amused as he would be in a few days) and kept looking at us while Joe sang(?) "Life's Been Good". Cand V reported that it looked like Felder was waiting for some sort of reaction. After Joe sang the "They write me letters tell me I'm overweight" line and we all flipped out (we're so predictable, aren't we?) Felder laughed at us yet again.
We didn't want it to come to an end, but eventually it did. During "Take it Easy" we suddenly remembered that we had brought signs for the band. The sign about Glenn's ugly shoes was forgotten about, but instead, V and Lisa struggled to hold up a very floppy piece of tag board that read "Good Party". Timothy S. witnessed this struggle and looked confused and amazed that we couldn't coordinate a simple sign. Eventually, though, just V held the sign. Glenn FINALLY saw it, tipped it head back and let out a huge GLENN GUFFAW. V then swears that Glenn sang the rest of "Take it Easy" to her, but D thinks otherwise. Man, we had a great time.
Sadly, though, we had to clear out of town. We went back to P's room, changed and left enough good service coupons to get Ron, the friendly desk clerk, promoted to regional director. Then we loaded up on junk food and started the long, nighttime trek to Penn State.
State College, Pennsylvania - June 20, 1996
"Could you make sure that Timothy Drury gets these flowers?" pleaded Vin her most innocent voice.
"DRURY????" replied the husky security guard.
"Oh, okay. He'll get them"
"Thank you, sir"
It would've seemed that the only one on stage to ever receive flowers during the show was Don Henley. We wanted, though, to give some (plus a Philadelphia Eagles balloon) to Timothy. He seemed so nice and friendly...he was always waving. The flowers got put on top of a crate and we spent almost the rest of the show watching in horror as the cameraman trampled all over them. Eventually, though, they got taken backstage. Mission accomplished.
Just a few hours earlier, it seemed like there wasn't even going to be a show. Due to weather conditions, the Eagles weren't able to get their plane out of Newark. We kept hearing announcements that the show would be delayed until they got there. We were continually assured, though, that they were en route. The delay did give us time to meet up with several more people, though. We were very excited to meet J who was going to share our extra seat with us. We even got a surprise whenP2 had an usher come get us so that we could talk with her. It was a lot of fun. Finally, about an hour and a half later, we could see some bustle in the backstage areas. This time the announcement was the familiar one. The show was about to start.
This time we were in the 3rd row and the show was as amazing as it had been the night before. Dand Kwere right behind us, so we had a really good time. We'd like to think that they remembered us from the night before and that we amused them just as much. It certainly seemed that way. It was kind of hard to have a good time, though, because the people behind us just weren't into it. As C informed them, "This is what you do at rock concerts." During the intermission we got a better feel for these no-fun folks. The man asked us a couple questions and then commented that, "That bass player sure seems uptight!"
We kept hoping that Glenn would lick the microphone again (we are easy to please), but he didn't. Don did strut over to our side during "Dirty Laundry" and stood right at the edge of the stage. Needless to say, we were thrilled.
During "Take it Easy" we held up a sign that read "Another Good Party. Thank You". Glenn gave us another priceless smile. The long wait that night was worth it.
New York City, June 21-22, 1996 (pre-show)
You may wonder why we went to New York City when the next show was Hartford. We had a couple of reasons. Melissa wanted to find Kurt Loder and several of us had never been there and we had a hunch that the band was somewhere in town. The day of the Hartford show, we did a little shopping after having a fortifying breakfast of ice-cream. As we were walking back to the hotel, someone suggested that since we were near the Four Seasons, and that since that was a good place for the band to stay, we should just mosey on past. So we did.
There was nothing going on at the front entrance, so a couple of us went through the lobby to the other entrance. When they didn't come back, we(Lisa, Melissa and LT) decided that something must be up. We walked into the lobby and noticed several Eagles' personnel milling about. We almost freaked, but decided to keep our cool. The others were nowhere in sight.
We could see some vans lined up outside, so we decided that we would non-chalantly go down the steps, out the revolving door, and turn stealthily to our right and walk up the street. It didn't go quite as planned. As we started the steps, we heard a loud psssssst.... it was V. They were hiding under the stairs. A quick conference confirmed that the band was in the process of leaving for the airport (maybe we should have been on our way too).
In fact, Don Felder was already outside. We all started out the doors and somewhere in the excitement, Melissa forgot exactly how revolving doors work and about 3 of us got stuck in the door, prompting the doorman to have to wheel us back into the hotel. Don Felder witnessed the entire incident and was very amused. Our plan to remain cool was foiled, but with heads held high, we walked past them to a spot about half a block away.
Shortly thereafter, Timothy S., Jean and their two kids came out and got into one of the vans. Tim was holding his little boy's hand. It was quite an endearing sight. Then, in a flurry of activity, a large group of people came out and got into the vans. We did manage to see, though, Henley trot out to his. He was wearing a plaid shirt (surprise), sunglasses and a backwards baseball cap. Obviously his hair hadn't been done for the show yet. As the vans sped away, someone suggested that we had better get our butts to Hartford as well.
Hartford, Connecticut- June 22, 1996
We had to do 80 on the Parkway to get there in time. Before we were even out of the city, we had a major accident with a bottle of Diet Pepsi. Let's just say that Vand Cwere a little sticky. We quickly checked into the hotel and touched base with some more friends. After quick showers it was time to leave for the show.
This one was a huge benefit for the Walden Woods Project and it was kind of obvious. Once inside The Meadows, we were deluged by WWP propaganda. What was really cool, though, was that there were T-shirts that were only for this show commemorating the benefit. Of course we all purchased one. We took our seats off to the side and then set off to find Hwho was also in attendance. We noticed Kathi Anderson, the director of the WWP, wandering around with a clipboard. We found out later that the governor of Connecticut was there to enjoy the show. After spending the last two shows freaking out in the 2nd and 3rd rows, it was nice to sit back and take in the whole production again.
Besides....it was COLD. We noticed that Henley's voice really seemed to be under a strain, but that he magically could manage to still hit the high notes. What was interesting was that right before "Boys of Summer" Henley and Frey had a mini-conference where Don asked Glenn for a little help on the end of the song. After it was over, Don thanked Glenn for his assistance. Who says these guys can't work together anymore?
Meanwhile, other online friends were having their own adventures with some signs and a toy gopher, but we want them to tell their own story (hint, hint guys <G>).
During the acoustic set, there was a technical snafu with Timothy's bass. Don handled the situation much better than he did on VH-1 Honors. He called the spotlight over to himself, said, "Something is wrong.", gave a VERY short (for DH) thank you on behalf of the WWP, and informed us all that, "...education is very important". Meanwhile, Timothy was back by his amp (?) fiddling around. Eventually, everything was back in order and the show continued. Even though it was chilly that night, we were kept warm by the excitement of yet another show.
Afterwards, we made it through traffic and back to the hotel (a feat the Eagles had a little difficulty doing) and spent some time comparing stories and looking at pictures. It was a little sad because it was LT's last night with us. In the morning, she would head back to Pennsylvania (after we conned V's somewhat frightened brother into taking a group photo) while the rest of us headed back to NY for the Nassau shows.
New York City, New York - June 23, 1996 (pre-show)
After having fantastic luck the first time, we decided to press it by going to the Four Seasons bar for a drink on the night before the first Nassau show. No signs of any Eagles, but while enjoying overpriced glasses of white wine, we saw Robert Duvall stick his head into the bar. He was in town for the premiere of Phenomenon (earlier that day, we had witnessedthe star-studded premiere for Striptease without knowing it).
The next day, we decided we weren't going to repeat the revolving door fiasco, so we walked around the hotel, got some hotdogs from a cart and sat to wait for them to leave for Long Island. The vans were already in place and there were a few professional autograph seekers standing around. From them we learned that Henley had been to the throat doctor, Al Garth had gone biking in Central Park, and that Joe and Glenn were at another hotel. While we were waiting, we noticed a small crowd gather around a guy standing in front of the hotel. We wondered why they were all taking pictures of him. Upon closer look, it turned out that it was Friend's Matthew Perry, looking very hunky in a white shirt and blue jeans. He and a friend got in a car and drove away.
Then it was show time again. The entourage appeared larger this time and there was a lot of meet and greeting on the sidewalk in front of the hotel. Irving was standing on the curb. We then saw Scott Crago, Timothy Drury, John Corey and Al Garth (saxophone in hand) come out and get into a van. Then that van left. Don Felder emerged from the hotel with his two daughters (someone had seen his wife, two sons and quite a bit of luggage go into another car earlier in the day). Timothy also hopped into a van, and then in a repeat of the last time, Henley trotted out to his van wearing the same outfit as the day before.
Returning to our hotel, we learned that the president was coming to town and figured we better beat it out of the city before they shut down the town. V was a traffic demon and several very nice New Yorkers almost lost limbs. We finally made it to the Nassau show, though.
Uniondale, New York, June 24, 1996
While we were having adventures in the city, those staying at the Marriott next to the coliseum were having even more exciting ones interacting with with the road crew that was staying there.
The show was quite good, but it seemed to be lacking something the earlier ones had. Perhaps it was because there seemed to be a lot of industry people/friends of the band milling about. We did have excellent seats, though. About 2 songs into the first set, one of the catering staff came and sat down next to Lisa. Ever the WT reporter, she learned that he had gotten his ticket from the band because, "...we cooked for them." She then learned that backstage, the band had eaten lots of seafood, some veal, something with lemon grass, and lots of other "neat" dishes.
Lisa reciprocated by pointing out to the young chef which one on stage was Joe.
Almost as entertaining as the show were Glenn Frey's kids, Taylor and Deacon who really seemed to be enjoying themselves during the show. Deacon, drumsticks in hand, seems to have the makings of a fine percussionist while Taylor has inherited her mom's dancing ability. They danced and waved at their daddy...as did the considerably older Felder girls.
During "Take it Easy" we all assembled in the 3rd row for one last glimpse. The road trip was over for some of us...for others it would continue the next day. Melissa is positive that Glenn winked at her after sort of squinting at all the familiar "new" faces near the stage. What a way to end a trip! We think we're all still trying to recover.
The next day, K went back to the Four Seasons. Years of following Timothy paid off when Mr. Schmit himself walked right up to her and began speaking to her. They chatted for a few minutes, and he signed her program. We hear that she is still on cloud nine. From K , we also learned that some of the sleazier professional autograph guys caught Glenn on his way into his hotel after the show. Reportedly, Glenn yelled at them to, "...get real jobs".
Many people attended the Tuesday night show and we hear that it was much better than Monday's show . Joe used a bubble machine given to him by S.
Sitting here today, that all seems so far away. We had a great road trip with awesome friends. Let's hope that similar experiences await the next time the band tours!