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Don Henley Biography

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Donald Hugh Henley (born July 22, 1947 in Gilmer, Texas) is an American rock musician who is the drummer and one of the lead singers and songwriters of the band The Eagles. He has since had a successful solo career and has played a founding role in several environmental and political causes.

Don Henley moved from Linden, Texas, to Los Angeles in 1970 to record an album with his early band, Shiloh. Shiloh was bankrolled by fellow Texan Kenny Rogers, then flush with cash from his band "The First Edition." Shortly thereafter, Henley met Glenn Frey through Amos Records in Los Angeles. They both became members of Linda Ronstadt's backup band, which two months later became its own act, the Eagles.

The first Eagles album was released in 1972 and contained the hit song "Take It Easy," as well as Henley's first hit songwriting attempt, "Witchy Woman", co-written with guitarist Bernie Leadon. As the seventies progressed, Henley's raspy vocals replaced Glenn Frey's twangy tenor as the focal point of the Eagles' sound.

The band broke up in 1980 following a difficult tour and increased personal tensions resulting from the recording of the band's last studio album The Long Run. On the night of November 21, 1980, Henley was arrested for cocaine, Quaalude, and marijuana possession after a nude 16-year-old prostitute had drug-related seizures in a hotel room"Old Devils", The Daily Telegraph, July 7, 1996. Henley was subsequently charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

During the Eagles' existence Henley co-wrote (usually with Frey) most of the band's best-known songs, notably "Desperado" and "Hotel California".

Henley sang lead vocals on many of the Eagles best-known songs including "Desperado", "The Best of My Love", "One of These Nights", "Hotel California", "The Long Run" and "Get Over It".

Following the breakup of the Eagles, Henley embarked on a productive solo career, the most successful of any of the Eagles. His first solo release, 1982's I Can't Stand Still, was a moderate seller. The song "Dirty Laundry", a denunciation of local television news, received the most airplay. Henley and his erstwhile lover, Stevie Nicks, would duet on her Billboard Hot 100 #6 hit "Leather and Lace" that same year.

This was followed in 1984 by Building the Perfect Beast, which featured layered synthesizers and was a marked departure from the Eagles' country-rock sound. A single release, "The Boys of Summer", reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song's haunting rhythms and lyrics of loss and aging, capped by seeing "a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac," immediately connected with a certain age group. The music video for the song was a striking, evocative, black-and-white, French New Wave-influenced masterpiece directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino that won several MTV Video Music Awards including Best Video of the Year. Henley also won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the song. The album's "All She Wants to Do Is Dance", (#9 on Hot 100), "Sunset Grill", and "Not Enough Love in the World" also received considerable airplay.

Henley's next album, 1989's The End of the Innocence, was even more successful. The title track, a collaboration with Bruce Hornsby, was a melancholy, piano-driven tale of finding bits of happiness in a corrupt world, and reached #8 as a single. The hit follow-up, "The Heart of the Matter," was an emotive chance remembrance of a lost love. Both of these songs used the effective technique of varying the words in the chorus each time it is sung, to advance the song's narrative. The album's "The Last Worthless Evening" and "New York Minute" were among the other songs that gained radio airplay. Henley again won the Best Male Rock Vocal Performance Grammy for the album.

In concert tours Henley would play drums and sing simultaneously only on certain Eagles songs; on his solo songs he would either play electric guitar and sing or just sing. Occasionally Eagles songs would get drastic rearrangements, such as "Hotel California" with four trombones.

A long period without a new recording followed, as Henley waited out a dispute with his record company while also participating in a 1994 Eagles reunion tour and live album. During the hiatus, Henley did the background vocals for country star Trisha Yearwood's hit "Walkaway Joe" and dueted with first Patty Smyth on "Sometimes Love Just Ain't Enough" and then Roger Waters on "Watching TV" on Roger's Amused to Death album, in 1992. Henley finally released another solo studio recording, Inside Job, in 2000 to a generally indifferent response, although its lead single "Taking You Home" received some airplay.

As of 2005, Henley continues to tour with The Eagles. He is currently working on a new solo album, though no release date has been set.

Henley's most recent recording is a duet with Kenny Rogers on Rogers' 2006 release Water & Bridges titled "Calling Me."

In 1990 Henley founded the Walden Woods Project to help protect Walden Pond from development. The Thoreau Institute at Walden Woods was started in 1998 to provide for research and education regarding Henry David Thoreau.

Henley co-founded the non-profit Caddo Lake Institute in 1993 to underwrite ecological education and research. As part of the Caddo Lake Coalition, CLI helps protect the Texas wetland where Henley spent much of his childhood.

In 2000 Henley co-founded with Sheryl Crow the Recording Artists' Coalition, a group founded to protect musicians' rights against common music industry business practices. In this role he testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary in 2001 [1] and the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation in 2003 [2].

Henley is not always an idealist. In a March 2001 interview on Charlie Rose, he stated that "rock bands work best as a benevolent dictatorship," with the principal songwriters in a band (in the case of the Eagles, "me and Glenn Frey") being the ones that will likely hold the power.

After years, as he puts it, of "wading through all those actresses and girl singers", Henley says he finally got lucky. He married Sharon Summerall, a former model from Texas who had lived in Paris and studied Art History. All his friends came to play at the 1995 wedding, including: Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Billy Joel, John Fogerty, Jackson Browne, Sheryl Crow and Tony Bennett. The couple have three children, Annabel, Will and Sophie.

He wrote the song "Everything Is Different Now" from the album "Inside Job" for Sharon. However, it has been announced that Sharon is suffering from multiple sclerosis

Don Henley has homes in Los Angeles, Woody Creek, CO, and Dallas and a cabin at Caddo Lake in Texas
Artist information courtesy of their Wikipedia entry, which is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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