|Bernie Leadon, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Randy Meisner. Don Felder|
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?