Drummers rarely have successful solo careers. Back behind the kit, usually toward the rear of the stage they perform in the shadow of the lead singer and guitarist. In this regard, Gilmer, TX, native Don Henley was a bit different. In the Eagles, he shared primary singing duties with guitarist Glenn Frey. And of all the band members solo albums - and there have been a lot of them (by Frey, Randy Meisner, Bernie Leadon, Joe Walsh, Don Felder and Timmothy B. Schmit) - Henley has done the best.
In '70, Henley lit out for L.A. where he hooked up with Frey. The two toiled in Linda Ronstadt's back-up band recording '72's "Linda Ronstadt."
Following a supporting tour, the Eagles formed and they were on their way to multi-platinum record sales.
The Eagles imploded shortly after the release of "The Long Run" in '79. Queries about when they would reunite were met with Henley's famous "when Hell freezes over" statement. Of course, the Eagles eventually did get back together (the money was too good to pass) but that was still a long way down the road.
Henley famously had a romantic relationship with Fleetwood Mac's Stevie Nicks. But about all that really lasted from the affair was the duos' ballad hit "Leather And Lace" (which appeared on Nicks' '81 album "Bella Donna").
Henley's solo career got off to a solid start with the release of '82's "I Can Stand Still." The set contained the brilliant "Dirty Laundry," a condemnation of empty-headed newscasters that turned out to be Henley's most successful pop hit - peaked at #3 on the chart.
Henley nailed the mark two years later with "Building The Perfect Beast." This hits loaded album had "Not Enough Love In The World," "Sunset Grill," "All She Wants To Do Is Dance" and the epic "Boys Of Summer" (which went to #5 on the pop chart).
How do you top that? Well, you don't but '89's "End Of The Innocence" had a trio of adult hits, "The End Of The Innocence" (with Bruce Hornsby on piano), "The Last Worthless Evening" and "The Heart Of The Matter." Then was an eleven-year span before "Inside Job" landed. But by then the Eagles were active again, recording and touring - very profitably thank you.
"The Very Best Of Don Henley" dropped in '09. The set had hits from each of his solo albums. There was also a deluxe version with a DVD. Well, that's it, right? Not exactly.
Henley received a lifetime achievement award at the '15 Americana Music Honors and Awards Ceremony at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. Now, that's it? Please!
"Cass Country," Henley's first solo album in 15 years, debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200. Selling 89,000 copies in the first week, the album went to #1 on both the Top Album Sales and the Top Country Albums charts.
1982 I Can't Stand Still
1984 Building The Perfect Beast
1989 The End Of The Innocence
2000 Inside Job
2015 Cass County
To his credit, Henley's solo career varies significantly from his Eagles work. And unlike his bandmates, Henley's albums are generally consistent, entertaining efforts. Scanning his catalog, "Building The Perfect Beast" is the album to get - good (often great) songs, biting yet emotive vocals, clever arrangements and captivating rhythms (he's a drummer after all). Henley's 'greatest hits" set adds "Dirty Laundry" and a handful of yearning ballads - don't really need those. Stick with "Beast."