If one is a prominent member of one of the best-selling bands of all time, and one has a successful solo career with notable songs, powerful influence on other artists (including serving as a mentor for popular singer Sheryl Crow before she had her own recording contrast), and popular albums, one would expect such an artist to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, right? After all, all four members of the Beatles have been inducted both as solo musicians as well as their group induction. When one examines the career of Don Henley, one sees that he continued to collaborate with other artists, continued to make relevant and important solo material as a singer-songwriter, and continued to have both popular and critical success. The end result makes him a worthwhile singer/songwriter to be inducted as a soloist into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to go along with his induction as a member of the Eagles.
Why Don Henley Belongs In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
The case for Don Henley belonging in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a soloist is a clear case based on several elements. For one, he had two multi-platinum albums, two platinum albums, and a gold album as a solo artist. He was a popular artist with his songs on the Hot 100, mainstream rock, and adult contemporary charts, and even had some popular hit singles on the country charts as a featured artist. He collaborated successfully with Stevie Nicks (a top ten, “Leather And Lace”), Patty Smyth (a top ten, “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough”), besides having other successful duets with artists like Trisha Yearwood, Elton John, Sheryl Crow, Kenny Rogers, Randy Travis, Joni Mitchell, Roger Waters, Earl Scruggs and Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Reba McEntire, John Fogerty, Brad Paisley, and Linda Rondstadt, many of whom are notable and hall of fame-worthy artists themselves. In his solo career, he had hit singles in three consecutive decades, from the anti-illiteracy social song “Johnny Can’t Read” and the top ten “Dirty Laundry” that followed through hits like “The Boys Of Summer,” “All She Wants To Do Is Dance,” “Not Enough Love In The World,” “Sunset Grill,” “The End of the Innocence,” “The Last Worthless Evening,” “The Heart Of The Matter,” “How Bad Do You Want It?,” “New York Minute,” the last three from the 1990’s, some successful soundtrack songs like “Who Owns This Place?,” “Sit Down You’re Rockin’ The Boat,” and “Through Your Hands,” to “Workin’ It,” “Taking You Home,” and “Take A Picture Of This” since 2000 . This is a career that has shown continuing influence on music through collaboration and relevant original material, as well as continued chart and sales success. The result is an obvious Rock & Roll Hall of Fame career even apart from his success with the Eagles.
Aside from his music, Don Henley has had influence far outside of his music. For example, he founded the Walden Woods Project to help protect the woods where Henry David Thoreau dwelled from development, along with the Caddo Lake Institute to protect the wetlands around which he spent much of his childhood. More controversially, he has been among the leaders of the Recording Artists’ Coalition, and has testified before the U.S. Senate in order to protect the rights of recording artists against music labels. Besides this, he has contributed to many other charitable and political organizations, and his personal life is and record of success are clearly among the more notable ones in the Rock & Roll world , making him among the wealthiest drummers of all time. Not only has he made well-regarded and influential music, and profited in sales and credibility from doing so, and not only has he helped along the career of other artists, but he has also sought to change the way that musicians operate in a way that is much more friendly to the artists. If that sort of influence is not worthy of induction, it is hard to imagine what level of influence would be.
Why Don Henley Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
There are a few possible reasons why Don Henley isn’t in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist. For one, as he is already in as a member of the Eagles, it is possible that there is an unwillingness to induct Henley again without the Hall of Fame clearing out its extensive backlog of bands and musicians that have yet to be inducted, of which there are many. Possibly as well Henley’s long feud with Geffen and his advocacy for musicians’ rights has offended a large portion of the voters, who might find his stand a bit strident, if not inimical to their interests. Also, as Henley’s biggest solo success came in the 1980’s, a lost decade as far as Hall of Fame induction is concerned , and that likely has hurt his case as well. Still, this is quibbling.
Verdict: Put Henley in, along with many other artists who have been waiting long enough that they are now being passed up by the grunge acts behind them in line.
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