Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Kennedy Center Dishonors: Where Are The Rest Of The Eagles?


Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner. Don Felder
The Kennedy Center Honors, which considers itself the arbiter of who is and who is not worthy of a lifetime artist achievement award, recently announced its 2016 honorees. They include actor Al Pacino, pianist Martha Agerich, singer-songwriter James Taylor, rhythm and blues singer Mavis Staples, and the Eagles, one of America's most popular bands.

The three current members of the Eagles - Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit and Joe Walsh - along with Glenn Frey, who died earlier this year, will be honored December 4. President Obama is scheduled to attend the ceremony and will also receive the honorees at the White House. And as always the event will be nationally televised on CBS on Dec. 27.

But Eagles co-founding members Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon and longtime Eagles member Don Felder, all three of whom had an enormous hand in developing the band's sound and legend, were not invited. 

This despite the fact that all three of these men were rightly inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as Eagles.

A petition to add Meisner, Leadon and Felder was initiated by Eagles fan Brandon Butler on change.org more than a year ago. It was submitted recently to the Kennedy Center Honors with more than 12,000 signatures. But the final decision by KCH regarding keeping Meisner, Leadon and Felder out in the cold has been made. 

This is what was shared with the petitioner in an email forwarded to The Reno Dispatch:

From - Deborah Rutter, President of the Kennedy Center Honors:   "The KC [Kennedy Center] consulted with the Eagles and through that discussion it was determined that the four band members who 'carried the torch' Don Henley, the late Glenn Frey, Timothy Schmit & Joe Walsh - will be awarded the Honors. We appreciate that there will be some debate about who constitutes the Eagles. This determination does not discredit the contributions of former band members."

Yes, folks, the Kennedy Center "consulted" with the current members before making its decision. In other words, the Kennedy Center didn't make its own determination, it was guided by the existing members of the band. How preposterous is that? In the bio of the band on the Kennedy Center website, Meisner, Leadon and Felder are not even mentioned. Are you kidding me? 

Since the Kennedy Center announcement was made that the Eagles would be honored, hundreds of Eagles fans have emailed and called me expressing anger and frustration with the executive committee of the Kennedy Center’s Board of Trustees, who in God-like fashion ultimately decide who is honored each year.

The Eagles actually were to be honored last year but postponed the appearance after Frey was forced to miss the ceremony due to health issues. Sadly, Frey later died.

The announcement of the Kennedy Center's final decision has stirred the pot again, and many longtime Eagles fans are saying it's simply inexcusable and unethical for the Kennedy Center Honors to make this arbitrary decision to keep three three hugely important pieces of the Eagles puzzle off the board.

Bill Aliff, 49, from Jacksonville, Fl, told me it would be a "travesty" if these men were not included in the ceremony. "Meisner and Leadon are founding members," he said. "I understand the adversity and lawsuits due to decisions concerning business, but the most important aspect of all this is the music."

Aliff said he and the other "passionate fans" from one of Meisner's fan pages on Facebook did everything they could to "make their inclusion a reality."

Lisa Hamilton, an IT executive and longtime Eagles fan, said that not including these guys "is just an injustice to them. It is outrageous. Longtime fans of the band don't understand how you can possibly honor the contribution the Eagles have made to American music and leave these three guys out. This is just wrong."

So just who is KCH disrespecting? 

Randy Meisner:  Singer-bassist-songwriter Meisner was in Poco and Rick Nelson's Stone Canyon Band before founding the Eagles with Henley, Frey and Leadon in 1971. Randy appeared on every Eagles album until leaving after Hotel California was released in 1977. Meisner was a huge part of the Eagles' harmonies and sang and co-wrote such hits as "Take it to the Limit" and perhaps the band's most underrated gem, "Try and Love Again." Full disclosure: Meisner sang backup and harmony vocals on a few of my songs about a decade ago and is one of the kindest people I've met in the music business.

Bernie Leadon:  Hugely talented if rather reclusive multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Leadon, who has virtually no online presence, is also a founding member of the Eagles along with Henley, Frey and Meisner. It was Leadon who  gave the band its country sound. This omission makes even less sense because it appeared as if Bernie had made peace with the existing members. He actually appeared with the band on recent tours.

Don Felder:  Lead guitarist and songwriter Felder, a gifted musician and writer who joined the band to give them more rock and roll cred', co-wrote the band's staple classic, "Hotel California" and is, too, a huge part of the band's legacy. But Felder's bitter feuds with Frey and, to an only slightly lesser degree, Henley, are part of rock and roll lore. Clearly, Henley and Eagles manager Irving Azoff told the Kennedy Center Honors not to include Felder.

Meisner, Leadon and Felder absolutely deserve to be part of this increasingly dubious Kennedy Center Honors gala. There is no real and comprehensive salute to the Eagles without including two of the band's four founding members and a guitarist who contributed so much to the band's sound.  

As for Schmit, who is a fine singer and bass player and seems like a nice enough guy, how do you include him and not Meisner? Schmit played on just one album during the band's heyday in the 1970s. 

I urge everyone who reads this story to contact the Kennedy Center at its toll-free number 800-444-1324 and voice your displeasure with this absurd decision to keep these seminal artists out of the proceedings. These three musicians were good enough to be inducted, as Eagles, into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but not the Kennedy Center Honors, whose arbiters aren't even musicians? Um, really?

43 comments:

  1. Very poor and as an Eagles fan they were a much better band Felder.

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    1. Who's really boo-hoo-ing? Intelligent...

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    2. Incredible!! Was that necessary your comment? Do you feel any better?! Give your pea brain a rest if that is necessary...I doubt it!!!!

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    3. Revisiting your comment here, marymoe. You are a rare idiot.

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  3. How does the Kennedy Centre get to adjudicate over such a HUGE issue when, as they aren't even musicians themselves, they can't possibly even grasp the injustice of their decision, let alone the enormity of it? These guys all deserve to be included as, without their presence, the award is a total sham. John A. Christie.

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    1. I feel that if Kennedy Center contacted Eagles about this matter it was Don Henley & possibly Glenn Frey (since they were supposed to be honored last year when he was still alive)& possibly Irving Azoff. They should be ashamed of themselves!!

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    2. We ell said, John and "uknown"

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  4. Thank you for publishing bits of my letter. We tried I suppose!

    Bill Aliff:)

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    1. Hmmmmmmmm all I am saying to you!!!!!

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    2. I've seen your cyber courage moronic comments. Now that I've seen them, are you satisfied that I've paid you the attention you so desperately seek?😁

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    3. Noonegirlwithmanyfaces (Lisa) you kinda brought that upon yourself as far as your interactions with me. Bummer, sweetie. 😏

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  5. All the founding members deserve the recognition. But of course once again the bad blood shows through. Grow up Henley, all of you had a part in becoming the Eagles.

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  6. Jamie,
    Thank you for writing this - I hope you are able to market your column while there's still some time left (I hope!).
    Along with Julie Richards, we started a FB group: HonorallsevenEagles with the purpose of having a forum for fans to comment on how they feel about the exclusion of Randy, Bernie and Don Felder by the KCH. Please feel free to visit it and leave a comment if you like. Also, I wrote Bob Lefsetz, a rock n roll blogger about the whole thing, since I know he knows Henley and Azoff. Perhaps you could reach out to him as well? (Bob@Lefsetz.com)
    I think the momentum for reversing this decision has subsided, so I think your article has good timing; it's bringing the issue back into the limelight. Let's all hope it has a powerful influence.
    Carrie Nutley

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    1. Thanks for the note, Carrie. Much appreciated. When did you guys start your HonorallsevenEagles group? Great idea. Not sure what you mean by marketing my column, but fyi, this is a global, award-winning news blog, if I may say: http://therenodispatch.blogspot.com/2016/10/reno-dispatch-wins-six-san-diego-press.html . The Eagles story above is going viral as we speak. Many thanks for reading. Cheers, Jamie

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  7. I have already written many of the things you mention in this article in other places...among this : meisnettes...but your voice are stronger then mine and more populare too , so your voice get more attention then mine...to bad really...among the things i wrote was : I thought it was KC who decide who shoul recive the honor and not the bandmember of the Eagles...it is something wrong when they ask them what they think ...it is not the Eagles who shall honor them self:( And it show the former member so little respect...and I think the motor behind this is Don Henley him self ..the two other are to weak to go against Don Henley...I think that's why J.W & T.B.S. " fits " in...they was a piece of cake for the two other...they didn't dare to stand up against them like Randy, Felder and Bernie did....and you don't call your colleague name..and they who was strong and left because if the threatment from the other bandmember is this three guys...all honor to them:)....K.C duid consult the Eagles because they wont stand alone with the dissision to leave out those three because of the rection they get from all the people who love this 3 guys...they show cowardise..All my respect and honor to the 3 guys who without them there wouldn't be any Eagles!!!!

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    1. Great post Lise!!! Thanks for your passion and love of music!!

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  8. Sorry for some wrong spelling and words who miss a letter: :( L.M.H.

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  9. Excellent article Jamie!! I have been pondering this decision and the only conclusion I can come to is....how apropro for the times we currently live in!!! I cannot help but make that analogy with the current appalling discourse we see in our media and our daily lives!!! How can KC dishonor these amazing talented musicians, Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon and Don Felder, who gave the Eagles their incredible sound and success! Talk to the FANS..we all STILL LOVE the MUSIC!!! What does this "HONOR" represent? Damn it pisses me off!!!!!!
    Sorry...I needed to vent a moment! I do know this...every year I looked forward to watching this event! It is the holiday..you are surrounded by family and friends..it was a holiday TRADITION. The emotion watching your favorite artists...lump in your throat emotion, seeing them sitting with President Obama and Michelle, with cute medallions around their neck!! IT IS NOW TARNISHED!!!
    I will no longer support KC! Virtually everyone I speak to about this decision, whether they are Eagles fans or not is SHOCKED and ANGRY!! How dare they make this decision based on BAD BLOOD from ONE egotistical band member! DISGUSTING, NOT ACCEPTABLE!! To those of you who say to someone like me to "give it a rest"! NO, I will not!! You must have ice water in your veins to not feel passionate about a favorite ARTIST or BAND that influenced your life!! And, I feel very sorry for you!!!! So with all that being said, Thank you soooo much Jamie Reno for giving this a platform!!! I am hoping this BLOG wins you more awards next year and goes MEGA-VIRUL!!! Lisa

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  10. Ugh...I mis-spelled "viral"! I thought that looked wrong! Where is auto correct when you need it! Sorry about that!!!

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  11. One last FINAL comment...for KC!!! "HONOR ALL the amazing musicians that gave us the musical legacy of the EAGLES or HONOR NONE!!! Shameful!!!!

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  12. Great article, Jamie! I appreciate your support for the inclusion of Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon and Don Felder as the KC honors the Eagles and calling out the absurdity of the KCH’s decision. The massive success the Eagles enjoyed after their 1994 reunion tour was due mainly to the music they produced from 1971 to 1977 with co-founders Meisner and Leadon, and with Felder who joined with On the Border. If the KCH believes Walsh and Schmit are deserving of recognition as members of the Eagles, then how can they deny the same recognition to Meisner, Leadon and Felder? Their contributions to the Eagles’ legacy far outweigh these members who joined after the band was well established and had already created most of their greatest music. I’m disgusted with the disrespect to the Eagles’ true legacy shown by this decision and the obvious contempt of the current members towards the former members. There would have been no torch to carry forward without Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon and Don Felder. It’s beyond offensive that Henley, Walsh and Schmit don’t offer their former bandmates the recognition they deserve. Every member of the Eagles, past and present, have earned the right to accept the Kennedy Center Honor. All six remaining living members belong on that stage December 4th. Thanks again, Jamie, for bringing more recognition to this injustice. I enjoy your blog.

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    1. You speak the gospel Laura!!! Also you mention the KC "TORCH" comment!! This comment is a double/triple slap in their face(s) in my opinion! Insult to freakin injury is what it is!!!

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    2. Laura M, thanks, very well said.

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  13. Thank you Jamie for the article! Most of us grew up to the '70s Eagles music, which included the 4 founding members: Randy, Bernie, Don H, Glenn, and later on Don F joined after Bernie left. In my opinion, it was the original 4 who lit the proverbial torch that the KC talks about. Had it not been for the original 4, there would have been no torch for others to carry. Randy Meisner is featured on ALL 5 Eagles albums from the 70s, either on lead vocals, back-up vocals, or bass. He and Bernie Leadon wrote several songs during their tenure with Eagles. Don F is known world-wide for his major contributions to Hotel California. I had the privilege of researching all of Randy's contributions to Eagles and the list is far longer than he was ever credited for by "certain" Eagles and their manager! I understand that the KCH spoke with the current Eagles and the decision to not include Randy, Bernie and Don F was ultimately theirs to make. I also believe that the final decision rested on Don H's shoulders and because he is still upset with Don F, he has decided to not include anyone other than the last 4 Eagles. This is a futile attempt at hiding the fact that he has not grown up much in the last 20 yrs! The honor is about their contributions to the music industry, not their personal lives or grudges! I sure hope Mr. Henley grows up some day, realizes the error of his ways and gives Randy, Bernie and Don F the recognition they are all so deserving of.

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    1. Lovely comment Anonymous! One of my hopes also! But it is funny to be saying we hope he grows up someday as he reaches his 70th year on the planet!!! lol...miracles can happen!! Praying for a miracle!!

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    2. Also if I can add to my earlier comment..what I struggle with in this whole shit storm is this is clearly an EGO driven decision! Wouldn't one think by this time in these artists life shouldn't they be working on perfecting their "inner world" maybe? Attempting to remove EGOISM and seeing others more clearly!! Nah.....the heck with that I guess!!

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    3. I just figured out how to comment as myself instead of Anonymous!!!

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  14. Thank you Jamie for a great article concerning this issue. Coming of age in the 70's, the Eagles had a major impact on my musical choices back then. To hear that 3 members will not be included in the KCH is appalling to say the least. Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon and Don Felder were so much apart of who and what the Eagles were during the 70's. To not even include 2 founding members, Randy and Bernie, is the epitome of narcissism in Don Henley. Everyone knows he was the one, along with Azoff, who made the decision to not include these 3 talented men. Don Felder was the starting force of Hotel California, one of the best songs they ever put out. I have everything the Eagles put out in the 70's and listen to that music still with my Grandchildren. I do know, never will I purchase anything Eagles related again, nor will I watch this program. To sit and watch a program that is not truly portraying the Eagles is wrong in so many ways. Mr. Henley needs to take a bite out of one of the later songs they put out, GET OVER IT! He would not be were he is today if Randy and Bernie had not been there to help get this group going on solid ground. It was the egos of the self proclaimed leaders that drove them away. Don Felder, coming on board after Bernie left, contributed so much talent to this group and he is also being swept under the rug. Mr. Henley, get over yourself. Man up! We all want the entire group of Eagles to be honored, past and present. To bad the powers that be can't see how wrong they truly are in the omission of these 3 men...2 of which lit that torch for the others to carry. No one can sing Take It To The Limit like Randy Meisner could. Try all they want, that is a one man song. No one can play Hotel California the way Don Felder could and Bernie's musical representation of bring the country side to the group has to be felt by all. Big mistake Mr. Henley, big mistake. Jamie, kudos to you in writing this and lets hope it is read by all the right people.
    Thanks, Sherry

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    1. Very well said Sherry!!!

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  15. To echo something I have said elsewhere today: The fact that KCH have decided the band deserves an honor and that the awards ceremony hasn't taken place yet mean that the issue is both current and relevant. For all of the reasons stated in previous posts, petitions, etc, the fact that band-members are being left out is also relevant, and unfair. As a "band" and even as individuals no, they don't owe their fans anything. But those currently being put forward to be honored DO owe their other band mates the dignity of being recognised for founding the Eagles in the first place, and for all of their contributions to songs that you can guarantee are still being played to this day. For every lyric ever written, for every bass note ever borne from Randy, for every song they were part of, by concept, nurture or conclusion, they deserve to be recognised as a whole, because without all of them, there would be none of them.

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    1. Very eloquently stated. The fact that these three artists were included in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction of the Eagles says it all. For the RRHOF to include them, and for the Kennedy Center to not even cite their names on their band bio online, is absurd.

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  16. Wow, I am late to this news.

    I am a fan of the Eagles and (separately) both Don Henley and Don Felder. Despite being a fan I hope that, as is appropriate, I can apply a modicum of clarity when required.

    A case in point was when Mr Felder commented at his surprise / regret at being excluded from the event memorialising the life and times of Glenn Frey. The event was a time for friends, family and fans to celebrate the life, times and music of Mr Frey. Mr Felder's inclusion would have been contentious, upsetting (for some), offensive (for some) and surprising. In summary, it would have been inappropriate. Mr Felder made the wrong call.

    Unlike the aforementioned event, the KCH are in recognition of a significant body of work co-created by a number of people over decades. The three members being excluded from the event were all key players in creating that body of work. This isn't just my opinion, but that of almost all commentators and authors on the subject. Each of these gentlemen can be linked to a particular part of the sound that we have all enjoyed so much. The exclusion of Felder, Meisner and Leadon would have be contentious, upsetting (for some), offensive (for some). It would be the wrong call.

    Mr Henley appears to be the major spokesperson for the legacy of the Eagles. Mr Henley also appears to be well-read, eloquent, intelligent, considered and principled. I suspect that if he wanted people included or excluded then he could bring some considerable influence to bear.

    Not having Felder, Meisner and Leadon included is indefensible. Defending or tolerating the indefensible is not what people of intelligence, consideration and principle do.

    Can someone please appeal to Mr Henley to call upon the qualities he seems to hold dear and ask him to do the right thing.. He is better than this.

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    1. Very well said, thanks for reading. But don't hold your breath waiting for Henley to do the right thing. Is he really better than this? Evidently not.

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    2. Mr Henley considers himself to be a moral compass both within and outside the music industry. Look at his views on the poor practices of Geffen, the treatment of his wife during the lawsuit, Walden Woods or his continuing (and just) fight for artist' rights.

      Mr Henley considers himself to be intelligent enough to know the difference between wrong and right.

      Mr Henley thinks he has the tools to get his viewpoint across very well, whether it be in written word, spoken word or song.

      Mr Henley believes he has sufficient influence to ensure that the right thing is done.

      I think Mr Henley has done a great job (small slip-ups aside) of building and maintaining a legacy consistent with these views. I also think that his current course of action does nothing for his legacy, or that of the band.

      I have no idea whether the man was a tyrant, dictator or bully. I am sure there are more informed people than me to have a view on this. I do have a view that he contributed (at least) his fair share to the legacy of the Eagles. I suspect that the legacy of the Eagles also contributed to his (well-earned) solo success.

      Unfortunately, his current actions (for me anyway) cast very significant doubt upon his integrity. The thing that always separated his lyrics from the many other excellent song-smiths was a sense of integrity. The music was great, but the lyrics were full of truth, the sort of timeless truth that comes from careful and sound consideration. Take away the integrity and some of his great lyrical explorations just become the vain musings of a well educated narcissist.

      You posed the question "is he really better than this?".

      I really hope he is, if only to preserve his own (perhaps carefully and deceitfully crafted) legacy. If he isn't I have a whole bunch of vinyl records that won't seem like old friends anymore.



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    3. Thanks for the insight. It was a rhetorical question. Don Henley and Irving Azoff are responsible for this slight, along with the clueless and cowardly Kennedy Center Honors. And neither Joe Walsh nor Timothy Schmit had the courage or integrity to challenge Henley or Azoff. There are a bunch of people to blame. But it's just plain wrong, not matter how you spin it or slice it.

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  17. I just watched the entire Kennedy Center Honors waiting - 'til the end - to see ALL of the Eagles, especially Randy Meisner, only to be sorely disappointed. Nobody does "Take it to the Limit" better; his rendition still makes the hairs stand up on my arms. Isn't it beyond time to mature/give up the grudge/exercise integrity/end the childish pettiness and punishment? Sad that Henley's heart couldn't open and the Kennedy Honors couldn't have exhibited some backbone.

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    1. Yep, it was a shameful and embarrassing event. The Kennedy Center Honors is a joke, they caved and agreed to ignore three of the Eagles' integral members, all three of whom are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as Eagles. The entire salute was presented as if these three guys don't exist. It was a disgusting rewrite of the band's entire history.

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  18. SKINNYD
    I was going to try and comment on my feelings after viewing last nights KCH program. You said it better than I could have and expressed it very well. Ditto, Brother!

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