Linda Ronstadt Honors Eagles at 2016 Kennedy Center

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One of the Eagles biggest benefactors was Linda Ronstadt, as it was the classic rock singer who gave Glenn Frey and Don Henley’s careers a significant early boost as members of her band and later recording their song “Desperado.”

So it’s no surprise, then, that the popular female vocalist paid tribute to the Eagles at their 2016 Kennedy Center Honors, which was broadcast on CBS on December 27. Though we wish she delivered the speech in person, her narration of the piece will have to suffice. And sadly, Parkinson’s has taken away that incomparable singing voice.

In her tribute, Ronstadt says: “Something about them felt familiar. They looked like us. They were who we wanted to be. So how did a country boy from Texas and a suburban kid from Detroit find each other at the dawn of their musical journeys? They went to Mecca.

“The Troubadour was the center of our musical universe and the place I met Don Henley, Glenn Frey and a lot of other musicians looking for their next song, their next paycheck or their next meal. I was putting together a touring band and hired Glenn, a great guitar player with an exquisite vocal range. And Don was an ideal drummer for a singer like me: he played simply, understood traditional music and was a brilliant vocalist.

“On the road, Glenn and Don played and wrote music all night and made a fateful decision to form their own band.”

Watch below to hear Ronstadt’s complete tribute…

Related: Bob Seger leads stars in “Life in the Fast Lane” performance

Earlier this month, Henley was among the artists that performed at A Tribute to the Music of Linda Ronstadt in Los Angeles. (Read our coverage here.)

In introducing “Desperado” that evening, Henley acknowledged the debt he owed Ronstadt: “The song that I’m about to do for you didn’t get much love or attention when it was released on our second album back in April of 1973. In fact, the executives at the record label freaked out. ‘Oh God, they’ve made a fucking cowboy hymn.’ (laughs) And then Linda Ronstadt recorded the song and put it on her album in September of 1973 and everything was different after that. This is the first song I ever wrote with an extraordinary guy named Glenn Frey.”

Ronstadt is the rare artist without an official website. Here’s her Facebook page.

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  1. Brad
    #1 Brad 30 December, 2016, 00:01

    The trouble I have these days is an Orwellian revisionist history around the band. Now it is left to Don to maintain the fiction that he and Glenn were the prime movers behind the band. The fact is, Bernie Leadon founded the band. He gave them their legit country inflections, which was their unique selling proposition. Need proof? Look at the songs on one of the biggest selling albums of all time: Eagles Greatest Hits [29x platinum, second only to Thriller]. All of the songs on the collection come from the first four Eagles’ albums. Leadon then left the band, and their second hits collection was a relative stiff.
    To not have Leadon at the Kennedy Center is almost criminal, and casts a shadow over the admittedly great work the band did after Leadon left.

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    • Greg Brodsky
      Greg Brodsky 30 December, 2016, 00:35

      Thanks for the note, Brad. There’s no question that something is amiss in the exclusion of Leadon (and Meisner and Felder, for that matter) from the various Eagles honors. But calling Eagles, Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 “a relative stiff” doesn’t fly. With sales certified in the U.S. alone at over 11 million copies, while significantly less than the first hits collection… that’s still a remarkable number. And as you noted, it includes such Eagles classics as “Hotel California” (#1), “Heartache Tonight” (#1), “Life in the Fast Lane,” and “I Can’t Tell You Why.”

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