Ex Eagles Members Denied Kennedy Center Honors

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Schmit, Frey, Henley and Walsh

Schmit, Frey, Henley and Walsh

On June 23, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced the selection of the Eagles as one of five Honorees who will receive the 2016 Kennedy Center Honors at its annual event to be held on December 4. The members identified were limited to Don Henley, Glenn Frey (posthumously), Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit. This caused a mini-revolt of loyal fans who petitioned the organizers via Change.org to allow former Eagles Don Felder, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon to be included.

Today (September 16), it was revealed that the petition was denied. In a statement shared to petition members today by its author, Brandon Butler, the Kennedy Center President Deborah Rutter wrote: “The Kennedy Center consulted with the Eagles and through that discussion, it was determined that the four band members–Don Henley, the late Glenn Frey, Timothy B. Schmit, and Joe Walsh–who ‘carried the torch’ will be awarded the Honors.”

Her statement went on to note: “This determination does not discredit the contributions of former band members.”

Watch an edited clip from the group’s 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction where, as Frey notes: “You can’t play music with people for very long if you don’t genuinely like them. And I guarantee you that over the nine years that the Eagles were together in the ’70s, over the three years that were together during our reunion, the best of times ranked over the 95 percentile. The worst of times ranked in the very small percentile that obviously everybody but the seven of us have dwelt on for a long, long time. Get over it!”

In his email to the “10,000 plus” fellow petitioners, Butler wrote: “I have asked Mrs. Rutter to possibly consider inviting them because if they do not discredit the contributions these individuals have made, the least they can do is invite them so they can feel a sense of pride and accomplishment watching the tributes from their fellow artists.”

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Besides the Eagles, the recipients to be honored at the 39th annual national celebration of the arts are: singer-songwriter James Taylor, actor Al Pacino, gospel and blues singer Mavis Staples, and Argentine pianist Martha Argerich. The Honors will be recorded for broadcast on the CBS Network for the 39th consecutive year as a two-hour primetime special on December 27 at 9 pm ET.

It’ll be a bittersweet event when the Eagles receive Kennedy Center Honors. The classic rock band were chosen for the prestigious occasion, one year after they were selected but decided to delay the 2015 honor when Frey took ill. No one would’ve known at the time that Frey’s medical issues would have resulted in the rock star’s death, on January 18 of this year, due to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia.

From the official June 23 announcement: “The Kennedy Center Honors celebrates the spectacular talents of artists whose brilliance has left a lasting impact on our society,” stated Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein. “These Honorees represent what is possible when creativity is not just cultivated, but unleashed. The Eagles’s ambitiously themed albums epically merged the American West and rock n’ roll, paving the way for unconventional music makers and artists to come; Al Pacino has embodied some of the most powerful characters of our time on both the stage and silver screen; Mavis Staples’s unmatched gospel and rhythm and blues masterpieces span 60 years and even served as a musical backdrop to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s campaign for Civil Rights; and James Taylor’s warm baritone and poetic lyrics embody the art of songwriting, making him one of the defining musical figures of our time and his music the soundtrack of our country.”

Related: The Eagles postpone 2015 Kennedy Center Honors

On December 4, in a star-studded celebration on the Kennedy Center Opera House stage, the 2016 Honorees will be saluted by fellow performers from New York, Hollywood, and the arts capitals of the world. Seated with the President of the United States and Mrs. Obama, the Honorees will accept the recognition and gratitude of their peers through performances and tributes.

Among the Center’s 200 recipients since they were started in 1978 are such rock and pop music legends as Led ZeppelinStingBilly JoelPaul McCartneyBruce SpringsteenThe Who, and many more. For years, it was strictly a highbrow affair with Honorees like Fred Astaire, Leonard Bernstein, and so on. It wasn’t until 1994 when a more contemporary music icon, Aretha Franklin, was first selected. Since then, the committee has chosen performers from the classic rock era virtually every year.

Related: Watch Ann Wilson honor Led Zeppelin on “Stairway to Heaven”

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  1. Bec
    #1 Bec 8 June, 2020, 23:31

    By not including Leadon, Felder and Meisner in the Honors for the Eagles completely discredits the integrity of the Honors. I have lost respect for this organization by first conversing with the likes of Henley and Frey on this matter and allowing them to make this determination. Maybe the better way to decide this was to ask the fans.

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