You Say It's Your Birthday: Don Henley

Today is the birthday of vocalist and former Eagles drummer Don Henley,

who was born in Gilmer, Texas and turns 50. As one of the songwriters for superstar 1970s band the multi-talented Eagles, Henley serves as one of the voices of his generation; since the band's demise (reunion tours aside) Henley has achieved success as a solo artist. Formed out of Los Angeles' country-rock scene in 1971, the Eagles were originally assembled to back Linda Ronstadt on her Silk Purse album; they included Henley (on drums), guitarists Glenn Frey and Bernie Leadon, and bassist Randy Meisner. The outing was so

successful that Henley and Frey formed the Eagles, inviting the other musicians to join.

Although the band intended to go the way of the Byrds, they wound up in a

harder rock vein with their 1972 debut, a sound exemplified in songs such a

"Take it Easy" and "Witchy Woman." Its follow-up Desperado was a

concept album with a concrete plot; its title track has become a classic

rock staple. And with albums such as On the Border and Hotel

California the Eagles began to rack up the hits: "Best of My Love" and

"One of These Nights" both went to #1, and "Take it To The Limit" and "The

Long Run" charted well. Leadon was replaced by Joe Walsh and Meisner by

Timothy Schmidt.

Henley dueted in 1981 with Stevie Nicks on her "Leather and Lace;" by this

time the Eagles were in serious legal trouble with former members, and side

projects were splitting the band. Their last album together (again, reunions

aside) was 1979's The Long Run, although the group reunited in 1994

to make Hell Freezes Over, a remade best-of collection with some new

tunes.

Several members of the Eagles enjoyed successful solo careers, but Henley

has done the most popular work by far. Singles such as "Boys of Summer," which went to #5 in 1984, "Sunset Grill," "The Last Worthless Evening" and "The Heart of the Matter" have all done well, as have his albums such as Building the Perfect Beast and The End of the Innocence. In addition, Henley founded the Walden Woods project to protect Henry David Thoreau's historic

Massachusetts property.

Other birthdays: Richard Davies (Supertramp), Chuck Jackson, George

Clinton, Estelle Bennett (Ronettes), Bobby Sherman and Al DiMiola.