Don Henley opened up about the Eagles' new career spanning documentary, History Of The Eagles. The two-part feature recently premiered at Sundance and in the first part chronicles the bandmembers' respective childhoods through their initial split in 1980, with the second part picking up the story from their 1994 reunion to the present. History Of The Eagles will premiere on Showtime on February 15th and 16th and be released on DVD the following month.
Henley recalled how the project initially got underway, telling Rolling Stone, "I don't know who brought it up first, probably our manager. Probably Irving Azoff said it's time for you guys to do a documentary. We'd been kicking it around for a few years but we finally decided that the time had come and, after 42 years had passed, it was probably a good time to get it done, because we said it was a three-year process. We knew it was going to be time consuming so we thought we'd better get started. You know, at our age people keel over, and so we wanted to get it done."
When asked why the band agreed to let the documentary be made, Henley explained, "We wanted to see an honest look at who we are, and what the group is. And, as Glenn (Frey) said at the (Sundance press conference), there have been a lot of misconceptions about this band and about how we got along or didn't get along. And we wanted people to know how hard we worked and how hard we tried. From my own personal point of view, it's a wonderful thing for my kids to have because we all, most of us in the band, became fathers later in life and our kids don't really understand what happened. In some respects that's good, there's just some things they don't need to know about. But on the other hand, it's a wonderful portrait."
He spoke about how the band has matured over the years: "We've just all grown up a lot. We all have kids now, we're much more tolerant of each other and we accept each other for who we are, and our eccentricities and our quirks, and we still get mad. They still piss me off sometimes. . . You learn to pick your battles. Roll with it. You learn what to accept and what to let go, and what to challenge. We've gotten pretty good at that, because, you know, we all know that the whole is bigger than the sum of the parts. So we have much more perspective now, and perspective is a wonderful thing."
Henley was asked what longtime Eagles fans could learn from the doc that they've never known before: "That a rock n' roll band, even though it may be a creative entity, is also a business. And we became pretty good businessmen, and we had to in order to keep from getting screwed by the record companies, and now the Internet service providers and all the digital people. You have to be a grown-up at some level. You can't just leave it to the managers and the lawyers, you have to know what you are doing. It's wonderful just to be very childlike and skip through the daisies and write your little songs and play your little guitar, but there's a lot more to it than that. It's a hard-ass business. It's mean, it's nasty, it's dishonest, so we learned a lot about that.
Don Henley told us that he's proud of the fact, that the band doesn't cringe when performing some of their earliest material onstage today: "I think they're pretty accurate representations of where the culture was at that time, which is, y'know, what we were trying to do. By and large, they hold up pretty well. I don't get squeamish about anything, and I don't think anything is completely anachronistic or out of place, which is one reason that we're still around."
Don Henley will next perform on February 1st in Atlantic City, New Jersey at Venue Revel Ovation Hall.
The Eagles will play their first show of the year on March 23rd at Las Vegas' Venue MGM Grand Garden Arena.
DID YOU KNOW?
On May 12th, the Eagles were on hand on as the band received honorary degrees from Boston's Berklee College of Music. Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit sat in the third row while the school's musicians played a selection of their best-loved songs from both the songwriters' band and solo careers, including "Take It Easy," "Desperado," "Hotel California," "Heartache Tonight," "I Can't Tell You Why," "Funk #49, "Keep On Trying," The Heart Of The Matter," and "The Heat Is On."
After the Eagles' initial split in 1980, Don Henley enjoyed the most successful solo career of any of the Eagles, scoring such solo hits as "Dirty Laundry," "Leather And Lace" with Stevie Nicks, "Sunset Grill," "The Boys Of Summer," "All She Wants To Do Is Dance," "The End Of The Innocence," "The Heart Of The Matter," "The Last Worthless Evening," and "New York Minute," among others.
Don Henley's currently in the studio with co-producer and former Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch recording an upcoming country-tinged project that's due out sometime this year.