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Donald Hugh "Don" Henley was spawned in the depths of hell on July 22, 1947 and was promptly transferred to Gilmer, Texas as a practical joke. He is an American rock musician who specializes in banging on the drums all day. He also is the lead singer and pre-eminent songwriter in the band he likes to call "Don Henley and Some Backup Musicians." He also - uh - has some opinions, about which he'd be very happy if you listened to them and thrilled if you donated some cash. A happy Don Henley is a Good Thing....
edit Early life
Henley grew up in a small town called Linden, Texas - population 202 (after the baby boom). His affinity for rhythm could be detected as early as 1960, the year he won "Best Square Dancer in the Second Grade" at the tender age of 12.
He first became interested in music after trying out for the high school football team in hopes of becoming attractive to cheerleaders. The coach took one look at the scrawny guy and, after laughing his butt off, said "Dream on, loser." Desperate for a way to at least get on the football field, Henley joined the marching band. At first he attempted trombone, but having to figure out where to put his fingers while simultaneously blowing air through the horn proved too difficult. (Who could predict that years later, he would become an expert at blowing hot air and tooting his own horn). The band teacher realized that Henley was one of those special people whose talents lie in the fine art of hitting things with a stick. To everyone's amazement, Henley was able to learn to use TWO drumsticks AT THE SAME TIME within the span of only a few months. When Henley saw the stunned faces around him as he used both drumsticks at once, he realized he had a special talent and decided to make it a career.
He and three friends formed the band Felicity and started making a mark on the happenin' Linden music scene with such inspired songs as "El Santa." After their gigs in the local Dairy Queen parking lot were not received well, they decided it must be because of their name and changed it to Shiloh. It worked. Kenny Rogers, who once had a dog named Shiloh, heard their name and felt sentimental enough to help them get a record deal. Free to exercise their songwriting talents to a greater degree, the group came out with such masterpieces as "Swamp River Country" and "Down on the Farm." The Gambler approved, but no one else did. Suddenly, Henley had a revelation: his music sucked. He would have to go back to Texas.... what could be worse??? In despair, he decided to get rip-roarin' drunk.
And here is where fate played a hand. Henley went to a club called the Troubadour and started throwing the liquor back. Almost at the point of stupor, he made out someone walking towards him... a skinny guy with a bad haircut who smelled like pot. Henley perked up. Perhaps he had some pot for sale... but no. "Hi, I'm Glenn Frey," the man said. "I noticed you tapping on that bar and realized you could keep a beat even after being almost dead drunk. I need a man like that to back Linda Ronstadt with me. You interested?" (Ronstadt is That Girl from "Pirates of Penzance.") Misunderstanding what Frey meant when he said "back Linda Ronstadt," Henley eagerly said yes - and a legendary pairing was born.
To celebrate, Frey took Henley to a party in LA at which at least three people were thrown out of windows and music was played so loud they heard it in San Diego. A young man named Jonathon Osborne left early, saying "you guys are too wild for me!" And that is how Henley and Frey became backup singers for Linda Ronstadt, helping her to hit the high notes. Two months later Ronstadt lamented, "You guys are too MUCH for me!" at which point they formed the band the "Eagles."
edit Tenure with The Eagles
The first Eagles album was released in 1972 and contained the hit song "Take It Easy, dude, I was just JOKING" as well as Henley's first songwriting attempt, "Witchy Woman." To this day, Henley makes sure to announce to anyone that will listen that the song is NOT about Stevie Nicks... a less than subtle way to remind everyone that for one brief shining period, he had the honor of banging her. Rumor has it the relationship came to an abrupt end when she accidentally screamed "OH YES, LINDSEY, YES!!!" at a rather inopportune moment.
Naturally this first album instantly started Universal Armageddon. After things settled down again, they released some more albums, creating lots and lots of art. Somehow they were stunned to discover that they also made lots and lots of cash along with their art. This surprised them as such a possibility had never occurred to them.
Their most successful album was Hotel California (1976). Since Henley had co-written and sung almost all of the tracks, he forgot all about his revelation that his music sucked and decided that he was the most talented musician who had ever lived, and certainly the most brilliant. He read books like James Joyce's "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy", Niccolo Macchiaveli's "The Prince", and Pre Tentious's "Anyone Who Reads This Can Act Like He's Super-Smart."
It was around this time that Henley seduced Stevie Nicks, hoping to sabotage Fleetwood Mac's Rumours tour by repeatedly flying her out to "visit" him when she was supposed to be performing. Fleetwood Mac was the only act outselling the Eagles at the time and Henley decided it was time to TAKE THEM DOWN. So he took Stevie, never dreaming that it was she who was sabotaging the Hotel California tour when her "visits" left him too exhausted to walk, much less drum.
The rest of the band was infuriated. Even so, Frey selflessly tried to help by offering to share Stevie with Henley in order to conserve Henley's energy. Unfortunately for Frey, Stevie took one look at the scrawny guy and, after laughing her butt off, said "Dream on, loser." Henley's gratification after hearing this said to Frey was too intense for words, and he now decided he was the most talented man who ever lived, period.
It all went downhill from there. In 1980, Don Henley and Glenn Frey experienced several creative differences of opinion which resulted in several discussions in which they decided to terminate each oth- uhm, their partnership. In these discussions, they communicated to each other the intense passions and feelings of displeasure which they felt due to these creative differences by such exchanges as "YOU SUCK" and "YOU SUCK HARDER!" They decided to break up the band until such time as Hell froze over.
When the initial anger wore off, Henley realized how much he longed to return to those days when he and Frey lived together and made sweet music all day and all night.... yes, they had made each other crazy, they had made each other scream, but those nights were still unforgettable. Henley decided that he was going to get Frey back. Alas, it was not to be. Frey had moved on.
Unable to accept this, Henley called Frey every day, but his calls were never returned. He sent him flowers, but they weren't accepted. Desperate, Henley got into the practice of driving by Frey's house every night hoping to just get a glimpse of him through the window. This painful period would later inspire the song Boys of Summer: "I'm drivin' by your house, though I know you're not home... but I can see you! Your brown skin shinin' in the sun..." (Frey at that time was sporting a healthy tan and had taken to slicking his hair back and wearing Wayfarer sunglasses.)
Frey finally realized he had to do something after Henley started lurking in the bushes and ambushing him every time he left his beachfront property to drive his Cadillac convertible to a nearby lake. So.. Frey put giant Deadhead stickers all over his Cadillac to scare Don Henley, who had a phobia of skulls. Don Henley eventually got over his phobia, so a very annoyed Glenn Frey moved. Unable to bear watching the sun go down alone, Henley finally realized those Eagles days were gone forever and he should just let 'em go but... it was hard. He told himself, "Don't look back, you can never look back" but easier said than done. He fell into a deep depression.
edit Solo Career
On November 21, 1980, Don Henley was arrested for being Don Henley, and charged with Being an Idiot. He was so depressed that he willingly pled "No Contest." However, it was this experience that finally snapped him out of it. He went home from court and threw all of his self-aggrandizing books into a pile. He got out a match and lit it, ready to set them all on fire... and that's when he saw it - his favorite book from the old days, "Anyone Who Reads This Can Act Like He's Super-Smart." He blew out the match. "I AM SUPER-SMART. And I will NEVER BE CALLED AN IDIOT AGAIN!"
He immediately started writing songs for his first solo album, I Can't Stand Glenn. This album incorporated many of his real-life experiences. An example is the hit song "Ode to My Dirty Laundry (which caused Stevie to kick me out of the damn house)." Another example is the title track "I Can't Stand Glenn" which railed against his former bandmate. It contained lyrics such as "I can't stand Glenn / 'Cause he did me wrong / Baby, I can't stand Glenn / Hope his album bombs."
By 1984, Henley had softened somewhat. On his album Building a Perfect Me, he looked back at his relationship with Frey much more nostalgically with the aforementioned "Boys of Summer." Stevie also reappeared as the inspiration for "All She Wants to Do Is Dance," a song about their romantic getaway weekend to Colombia, South America - aka the cocaine capital of the world. The less said on that the better...
In 1989, Mr. Henley finally lost his innocence, which pleased the rock community so much they had a 3-day party. He finally began to achieve the financial success and recognition as a solo artist which he had been assuring us he deserved all along. This was far more satisfying to him than the truckloads of money he had received as an Eagle. Such riches are meaningless to an arTEEST like Henley if he can't have creative control. They are useful, however, when he wishes to dive naked into a swimming pool filled with cash (a ritual reserved for every other Friday).
edit Eagles Reunion
In 1994, Hell finally froze over.
The seed had been planted in 1993 when Henley and Frey reconnected while shooting a video for Travis Tritt's cover of Take It Easy. They realized they still had common ground when both of them started mocking Tritt's hideous hair and clothing. They remembered the good times they'd had in the past making fun of other people - oh yeah, and making music too. Soon they started spending more and more time together.
Then, in 1994, Henley and Frey were hanging out one day and asking each other, Glenn Frey:"Are you thinking what I am B1?" Don Henley:"I think I am B2..." Together:"It's Hotel California Time!!!" After deciding it was a Bad Idea to drive on over to that certain "hotel" in California which is actually in Phoenix, they decided to go on tour and make a buttload of more money just for kicks and giggles.
edit Environmental Causes
Mr. Henley is just absolutely in love with the environment, and has founded several worthy charities in order to save it. Well, actually, more like one worthy charity... The Walden Woods Project. Upon discovering Thoreau's old hangout Walden Woods was in danger of being sold to developers in 1990, Henley held a benefit to buy the land. It made millions of dollars... so he held another one. And another one. And another one. Apparently it takes a lot of money to save that patch of land, as to this day he's still raising money for it. Naturally, since he is the founder of the charity, he can make sure the tax-deductible donations he makes to himse-uh,his charity are being used wisely.
edit Middle Age to AARP
In 1990, a singer named Mojo Nixon wrote and performed a song called "Don Henley Must Die," for which he received the Nicksian of the Year Award. Stevie gave Nixon the award because she had been rather displeased by an interview Henley had given earlier in the year where he claimed that every song she wrote after their relationship was about him. "HE WISHES," she told an interviewer when asked about it. However, soon Nicks and Henley kissed and made up. Then they kissed some more... and some more...but it was not to be. Henley couldn't handle dating one more big time rock'n'roll star... especially when that rock star kept putting the toilet paper roll on upside down, leaving the cap off the freaking toothpaste, and refusing to take the garbage out. After an explosive argument in 1991 that led to Henley being rushed to the emergency room to be treated for injuries caused by shawl strangulation, it was over.
So, in 1995, Mr. Henley finally settled down to a normal life, marrying a supermodel from Paris. They had a small, casual wedding, inviting only people such as Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Sting and Sheryl Crow to perform.
After getting bored with collecting precious jewels to use as paperweights, Henley decided to release another album in 2000. Unfortunately, as no one can remember its name, not much can be said about it here. However, while promoting it in March 2001 on Charlie Rose, Henley stated that a rock band is best run as a "benevolent dictatorship," and that the principal songwriters should be the ones with most of the power. Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham immediately sued him for plagiarism. Ex-guitarist Don Felder, then enmeshed in a lawsuit with Henley and Frey for firing him a year prior, yelled "Benevolent? HAH!!" at the TV screen.
Four years later, without any new material to promote or any in the works, Henley and Nicks decided to tour together in 2005. They did this out of the utter feeling of sentimental love they feel for each other, as well as the complete respect they feel for each other as fellow performers, songwriters and long-time survivors in The Business. A happy coincidence occurred when they suddenly learned that the "numbers" looked good too - VERY good, in fact. Especially the merchandising, oh MY yes! The only problem occurred when Stevie suggested they invite Lindsey Buckingham, Mick Fleetwood, JD Souther, and Joe Walsh along and call the tour "Stevie Nicks and Her Men: Poets, Priests of Nothing, Legends in Bed." Henley quickly vetoed that idea, much to Stevie's disappointment. "I'm demoting you to the Priest of Nothing category" she is rumoured to have told him in response.
Don Henley is richer than God and has homes - well - everywhere! In addition to the money he rakes in as an Eagle, he is also a reviewer for VH-1 Classic. A typical review, after watching that Dire Straits video in which the singer laments that he "should have learned to play them drums," is, "HAAAAAH!"
edit Long Road Out of Eden
In 2007, the Eagles FINALLY released a new album called Long Road Out of Eden. The album is a double CD containing 20 songs, much to Henley's displeasure. As he told an interviewer, "I told Glenn we should make it one CD of really good songs instead of two CDs that include mediocre songs. Yes, it is true that all the best tracks are mine, but that's not my fault. Did Glenn listen to me? Nooo. He INSISTED we had to include those lame songs by him and the other guys... I think their names are Jim and Tony... anyway, in the interest of band harmony I allowed it. Unfortunately, I'm sure his refusal to take my advice will cause sales figures to plummet. It makes me so sad when egos win out over art..."
The album is available solely through Wal*mart. When asked about the apparent hypocrisy of an environmentalist getting into bed with Wal*mart, Henley was quick to defend himself. "I'll have you know that Wal*mart made a contribution of $50,000,000,000 to help save Walden Woods. Obviously you are mistaken that they don't care about the environment. It's just a coincidence that they happened to make this donation to my charity right before we made the deal with them."
The Eagles have embarked upon a world tour to support the album which is slated to last until nobody attends the shows anymore, or until they are unable to roll their wheelchairs onto the stage - whichever comes first. Tickets cost $2000-$5000, depending on whether or not you want the cheap seats. Don't worry, part of your money is going to help Walden Woods!
edit Other Projects in the Works
Mr. Henley now has his own website, http://www.donhenley.com, which he utilizes to announce to everyone how much he hates social networking, ... except, of course, when using it to promote himself.. In a recent interview, he lamented, "When I see the way teens and twenty-somethings waste hours and hours on MyBook and FaceSpace, I just shake my head. When I was their age, I was doing 14 grams of cocaine per day. Most of these kids haven't even moved past pot. It's such a pity the way the youth of America is deteriorating."
He also hopes to release more solo albums. Right now he is focusing on collections. His first collection, "Actual Miles: Henley's Greatest Hits," was released way back in 1995. Since then, Henley has released one album of new material. Therefore, it was definitely time to make a new collection. "The Very Best of Don Henley" was released in 2009. He plans to follow it up with a collection entitled "The Very Best of What Didn't Make It onto 'The Very Best of Don Henley'." A third collection, tentatively titled "Don Henley Songs that May Not Be the Very Best But Are Still Pretty Good," is a possibility.
Music is not Henley's only love. He also feels passionately about supporting the justice system. To that end, he makes sure to give high-priced lawyers plenty of work on a regular basis. Future plans include sending Legal Notices to the Eagles Preservation Society, the organizers of the Henley Royal Regatta, the mayor of Henley-on-Thames, every company that manufactures henley shirts, and everyone named Don Henley for violation of trademark.
An unhappy Don Henley is a BAD thing.
- ↑ Three of Felder's neighbors - the guy was loud.
- ↑ "Don Henley Predicts New Eagles Album Will Flop." Billboard, October 2007
- ↑ "Don Henley Wins Coveted Wal*Mart Employee of the Year Award." Los Angeles Times, 2007
- ↑ See Don Henley's opinion of social networking sites like MySpace
- ↑ See Eagles' Official MySpace
- ↑ "Don Henley: Why I'm Proud to Be an Old Fart." Stationary Stone Magazine, 2009