Los Angeles Times
Pre-Hall of Fame Interviews
It's easy to imagine a young baseball player actually dreaming of someday being in the Baseball Hall of Fame, but there was no Rock Hall of Fame when you guys started. So, what was your equivalent dream?
There are all sorts of dreams that you have and as soon as you reach one, you have another. Like the first dream when I got here was getting to play the Troubadour on Hoot Night and hoping that someone would see you because you wanted a record deal. Then, there was the dream of getting played on the radio and touring. They were all dreams. I remember how excited we were when we heard we were going to open some shows for Jethro Tull in the summer of '72, when Take It Easy was first going up the charts.
The Eagles and Jethro Tull. That sounds like an odd pairing. At the time, country-rock was a relatively new sound in mainstream pop-rock. Did you feel all alone out there or were there some bands you felt some kinship with?
Well, no, country-rock band had gone big time. Poco had done OK. They could play maybe 3,000-seaters in L.A. and a couple other cities. Loggins & Messina had had a couple of hits, but they weren't really a concert draw like bands like Yes, Jethro Tull or Edgar Winter, which were some of the bands we opened for. We ultimately realized we needed to toughen up our sound and add a guitar player to be able to perform in those bigger venues.
What would you nominate as the best of the Eagles' albums? And then your favorite, if that's a different one?
I think that the best album would be Hotel California. " That's where the songwriting, the musicianship and the record production all came together. But my personal favorite is probably One of These Nights. I think part of it was the experience of making the record. There were a lot of wonderful new musical moments that we had . . . doing all the fuzz guitars on the intro of One of These Nights. There were some good songs on that album, including Lyin' Eyes.
What about the best and your favorite Eagles' song?
On a personal level, I'll never forget Tequila Sunrise and Desperado because they were the first two songs that Don and I wrote together. But, again, I would have to say Hotel California It won a Grammy for best record and it sort of put us far ahead of the field at the time. But my favorite may be One of These Nights.
How surprised were you by the enormous fan response to the reunion tour?
We underestimated everything. We planned very conservatively and then we were incredibly surprised at the response.
How soon did you start realizing how big it was going to be?
The second that tickets went on sale at Irvine Meadows Amphitheater and we sold out a lot of shows real fast. We all went, "Whoa!" But then we said, "Well, that's just L.A. Let's see what happens up in San Francisco And then that sold out and it just kept growing.
How do you feel about being inducted into the Hall of Fame?
You try to be a bit blase about it, but when it actually hits you, it's pretty nice. . . . I'm especially happy all seven Eagles have been recognized because everybody contributed.
What about your relationship with Don? There were rumors of tensions during the tour. Over the years, when were you the closest?
In its first inception, the band was together for about nine years and I would say we were very close the first seven years, which would lead us about halfway through the making of The Long Run. We had houses together and/or houses near each other that whole time.
How would you describe your relationship now?
I believe that you can't recapture . . . you can't have things the way they were in the '70s. So, I think my relationship with Don on the tour was very professional. For the most part, it was a good working relationship. It wasn't as close as when we were living together, but we still have so much shared experience that it's hard to say we're not still close.
What about the future of the Eagles?
It wouldn't be a bad time to tip our hats and ride off into the sunset. There's a certain amount of closure . . . in being inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. If the Eagles were to continue doing anything, I think there would have to be an album to revalidate ourselves. To do that, I think there needs to be new material and I don't know if we can do that. The last time we did a studio album together it took 3 ½ years and I'd hate to be mixing the album on my 52nd birthday. So, I don't know what is going to happen. We really haven't talked about it.
What were your early rock dreams?
Don Henley: The real thing that any artist wants, I think, is to be understood and accepted. Those are the primary motivations for anyone going into rock 'n' roll . . . because where I come from the sports figures were always the popular people in high school. The musicians were always relegated to the back of the bus.
Glenn spoke about each step for the band being a new dream . . . playing the Troubadour for the first time, getting a record contract. Same with you?
Sure, each step is a dream, including getting to meet people you idolize . . . to be accepted in that musical club or fraternity, which is something that is ironic about the whole concept of a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. We, in rock 'n' roll, are supposed to be outsiders. We are not supposed to join clubs. . . .Besides, the Hall of Fame has sort of become a popularity contest, hasn't it? Will great artists like Randy Newman or Leonard Cohen [who aren't massive record sellers] be in the Hall of Fame? Probably not.
Why are you attending the ceremonies? Is it mostly for the others in the group?
Yes, I don't want to spoil the evening for them or for our fans who may enjoy it. I also certainly don't want to exhibit any disrespect for all of the people already in the Hall of Fame, many of whom are my heroes.
When you look back at the Eagles' history, are there some particularly sweet memories? The first hit? The first show?
Sure . . . each of the things you mention were sweet, and the older I get the more I remember them. It makes me sad to realize those are probably gone forever. Because of the amount of water that has gone under the bridge and because of the inevitable growing apart, we can never. . [pause] We wrote a few prophetic lines and one of the most prophetic was in the song I Can't Tell You Why and it's the line, We make it harder than it has to be. And that has certainly been the case for the last 2 ½ years. I wish it could be a joyous brotherhood of music, but I have come to realize that it's just not.
When with the Eagles did you start getting the sense that you were doing more than making hit records . . . that you were becoming a world-class band?
From the beginning, we tried to do quality work. We were accused of being perfectionists and being control freaks, called all kinds of things, but we simply wanted to do the work and we wanted to get better. Sometimes we succeeded, sometimes we didn't. I think all our albums are pretty much a mixed bag . . .there are some good things, some mediocre things and some rotten things on all of them. I suppose Hotel California is the best album as far as consistency.
Was that part of the problem in recording The Long Run The pressure of trying to top Hotel California?
I think we could have done it, but we had some drug problems and some other personal problems . . . ego problems, some stress problems. When success comes in rock 'n' roll, people are generally too young to deal with it. In hindsight, it's easy to see now what should have been done
to keep the group together. But no one wants to rock the boat. We were all surrounded at one time or another by yes men who would rather keep picking up a check than tell you what you need to hear. I'm just grateful that we're all alive and healthy.
Was it hard for all seven of you to agree to get together for this occasion?
We've decided to forgive and forget . . . at least for the one evening.
Were you hurt by some of the charges that the only reason you got back together was for the money?
Well, part of the reason was money. That's what we do for a living. . . . And, I'll grant you our ticket prices were too high, but that was a decision by committee. . . . Rolling Stone took the opportunity to take a couple of shots at us. They said our tour was about middle-aged men and money. Coming from Rolling Stone-once the nation's best and only alternative paper, and now a bloated tabloid with cigarette and liquor ads on every other page-I think it is really hypocritical.
How would you describe the status of the Eagles at this point?
It changes every week. I tell you this: I would be willing to do it again in the future if it could be done with joy and enthusiasm and integrity . . . a tour and an album. I'd never tour again and play the same old songs, without a new album. I think everybody agrees on that. But if we can't do an album with those three things and can't do a tour with the same, I'm out.
So, how do you think you'll feel at the induction? Sentimental? Anxious?
I don't believe that there will be a great deal of sentimentality, at least I hope not. I appreciate the past and the older I get, the more humbled and grateful I am for the career that I've had, both inside and outside the Eagles, but I don't want to dwell on it. I want to stay creative. I don't want to rest on laurels. It's not enough.