The Career Decision The Eagles’ Don Henley Agonized Over For Years
Every artist has to make decisions that change the rest of their lives forever at some point in their musical journey. Their decision may either bring them an unexpected success or a big disappointment. Those kinds of situations require sacrificing one path to choose another, which would give anyone a hard time figuring out the right way to go.
As a result of this situation, musicians may find themselves in huge uncertainty. At the beginning of his career, the Eagles’ Don Henley also faced a challenging decision. This choice affected the rest of his music career, and the rocker felt a great deal of pain following his preference which eventually brought him success.
What Was The Decision Don Henley Had To Make?
Don Henley started to be interested in music in high school when he learned to play trombone and percussion. He formed a band called the Four Speeds in high school with some of his childhood and school friends. With the band, he picked up drums, which would be one of his main instruments later on. The band decided to switch their names to Shiloh and continued playing in the local places until crossing their path with the producer Kenny Rodgers.
Rodgers came into one of their shows and invited them to Los Angeles to produce an album. They agreed to go and released a single named ‘Jennifer (O’ My Lady).’ Later on, Shiloh also recorded their self-titled debut album with Amos Records in 1970. However, the album didn’t bring the expected success, and then the band parted ways due to some creative differences.
Coming to Los Angeles and making an album were essential steps in Don Henley’s career but meeting with Glenn Frey, who would be his future bandmate, was a more significant breakthrough in his life. Then, the two joined Linda Ronstadt in her touring band and worked with him for three for four months. Frey and Henley realized that they musically suited each other well, which led them to decide to form a band.
During a previous interview with Billy Joel in 2015, Henley reflected on this period and stated that it was challenging for him to leave his hometown and change his environment at the time. Still, he wanted to see new places and gain new experiences. The musician had moved from Texas to Los Angeles, and according to what he said, he ‘agonized over’ his past action for years. However, although he worried excessively about his decision back then, he eventually met the Eagles members, with whom he would achieve incredible success.
Don Henley’s statements on his life-changing career decision are as follows:
“Kenny Rodgers was looking for groups to produce at the time, so he came and heard us play. I guess he liked what he heard because he said, ‘If you come to California and stay in touch with me, I can produce an album for you.’ So we went and made a single first and an album later in 1970 and then went back to Texas. Then, one of our band members was tragically killed on a motorcycle.
And then, we regrouped later on and got two more members in the band. We went back to LA and recorded the entire album with Kenny producing it. It was a small label called Amos; I think Jimmy Bowen was at the head of the label. So we made the album, but the album wasn’t very good.
Then, Glenn and I went to work for Linda Ronstadt at that point. We were in the band for three or four months. It was around the spring of 1971, and that’s when we began to plot to have a band on our own. It was very difficult for me to leave my hometown behind, I agonized over that for years, but I really wanted to go places and do things.”
You can watch the full interview below.