2013 finds the Eagles celebrating 42 years as a band (with a lengthy "vacation" break representing a good chunk of those years, of course) and they'll do it in style with a tour and two-part documentary which will premiere on Showtime on February 15 and February 16.
History of the Eagles - Story of an American Band will feature choice footage from the old days, sourced from a seven camera shoot during the Hotel California tour. The film also incorporates multi-track audio recorded during that same tour at a show in Maryland.
When I first heard about this, I was skeptical as far as how comprehensive it would be, in terms of giving coverage to ex-band members, but lo and behold, there's Don Felder being interviewed in the film (and also Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon as well).
The Eagles Fastlane folks had a chance to see the first part at a special premiere at the Sundance Film Festival and have been sharing their thoughts on Facebook, along with some choice tidbits. Here's a one big chunk (which you should avoid if you don't like spoilers):
There's a long section about Victim of Love. Don and Glenn talk about how Felder would make tapes and they would usually just be these guitar runs, but once in a while there would be something there that they could use. They wrote Victim of Love and Felder thought that he was going to sing lead on it.
Henley says, "I don't recall any promises being made about who would sing lead on that song." and Glenn says kind of the same thing...that there were no guarantees about who would sing what, but that apparently, Felder had gotten it in his head that this song was his.
Felder tells the story of how Irving took him out to dinner to break the news to him that he wasn't getting that song while at the same time, Henley was back in the studio recording the lead vocals.
Henley makes the comment that the thought of Felder singing lead on Victim of Love made as much sense as him playing the lead guitar solo in Hotel California.
There was talk of tensions and how things were getting stressful. It's implied that Felder created factions by getting Joe to side against Don and Glenn.
What really was surprising was to hear the story of the Long Beach show. We've only ever read about this, but to listen to Glenn and Felder tell the story, you can see that they still aren't over it...not by a long shot. Glenn talks about how Felder took his "cheapest guitar" and smashed it. The most amazing thing, though, is that there is actually audio of Glenn and Felder going at it on stage.
"I'm gonna kill you."
They argue about money and Glenn calls Felder a fuckhead. There are photos of Felder getting in the car after the show and someone (we think it was Glenn) flipping off the car with both hands.
When Henley talks about Felder, he refers to him as "Mr. Felder. "
The current members of the band were on hand at Sundance to answer questions about the film, which was directed by Alison Ellwood and produced by Alex Gibney.
According to Gibney, it's a very honest portrait of the group:
"They were very forthcoming and quite honest about the harder times they had together, but there's another issue because they didn't do much press" in the 1970s," Ellwood says. "It's really a myth that they fought all the time. This amazing footage of them from 1977, at the height of their career, shows they are generally having fun onstage together."
Ellwood, an Eagles fan who bought "Desperado" when it came out, and Gibney say they were familiar with the music but largely unfamiliar with the story of the Eagles when they started. Fascinated with roots that include Bob Seger, Kenny Rogers, the Flying Burrito Brothers and Linda Ronstadt, Gibney notes their goal was to "tell the story inside out," to reveal the artistic side of the band and how they made decisions to lead to classics such as "Take It Easy," "Desperado" and "Hotel California."
"It's a classic rock 'n' roll story," he says, adding, "it's the Beatles story," referring to a band walking away from the stage at the peak of their powers.
"Nobody comes off as a villain," Ellwood notes. "The antagonisms that occurred -- all the members talk about it. It was this thing that imploded on itself.
After the documentary premieres in February on Showtime, it will be out on DVD in April and the related History of the Eagles tour dates are set to begin in June and that tour will include "former members," according to Henley. Which former members? We'll have to wait and see on that part.