Don Henley has played plenty of shows since his Eagles partner Glenn Frey passed away in mid-January. And he's paid plenty of tribute to his fallen bandmates.
But playing this week at the Meadow Brook Amphitheatre, not far from Frey's home town of Royal Oak, Mich., is going to be a little different.
"I'm looking forward to playing in Michigan," Henley, 69, says by phone from a Philadlphia. "It'll be an emotional night, but I think we're gonna do just fine. We're just going to do our show and do the best we can and give it all we got.
"Obviously we'll do some Eagles songs. Out of respect for (Frey) I don't do the songs he sang, I just do the ones that I sang. But I do several songs taht we co-wrote together, including of course 'Desperado,' which was the first song we really wrote together.
"I think it'll be fine."
Henley says he's still coping with Frey's passing, at the age of 67 of complications from coitis, rheumatoid arthritis and pneumonia. "I'm still processing it, and I will be for quite some time," he explains. "I think about him every day, and I think about his family and his kids and wife. They're doing OK. we all check on them quite often, and everybody's getting through it."
Frey's death did, of course, bring the Eagles to an end, the final performance being a tribute at this year's Grammy Awards with Jackson Browne joining the Eagles for "Take It Easy," which he co-wrote with Frey. (The Eagles will also receive a Kennedy Center Honor in December that was postponed last year due to Frey's illness.) Henley didn't perform any Eagles songs while touring last year to promote his latest solo album, "Cass County," but had already planned to add them to this year's shows.
Now, he acknowledges, the material has a different meaning in the wake of Frey's death.
"People want to hear those songs," he says, "and I feel like it's my responsibility to carry that torch now, to be the curator, as it were, of a lot of those songs. And I'm gonna do that."
There's so much more, of course. Henley is still spreading the word about the rootsy "Cass County;" His first solo album in eight years hit a career-high No. 3 on the Billboard 200, while the track "The Cost Of Living" was nominated for a Grammy Award for American Roots Song. Between that, four other solo albums and the Eagles material, there's plenty to play each night -- and more songs being added as the tour goes along.
"We do a show now that spans over four decades of music, which has been really enjoyable," Henley says. "I'm not one to rest on my laurels, but it gives me a sense of accomplishment to know that I have that body of work to choose from, and it's fun to be able to change the show up every night.
"And it's harder to put a set together because there are so many thats that, as my dear friend Bob Seger says, what to leave in, what to leave out. But I've got a band that is capable of shifting, of turning on a dime, and I can call out songs spontaneously some nights and we change the set order in the middle of the show. It's really fun to be able to do that.
Henley has plans to add to that body of work in the near future, too. He's planning an albumn of the R&B songs he played during his youth, as well as a set of contemporary "torch songs." He and manager Irving Azoff, meanwhile, are continuing to work on an Eagles musical based on "Hotel California," which Frey was spearheading.
"We really havent' had time or the energy to take that up, but we're going to start on that soon and take up where he left off and get that done," Henley says. "And then there's a lot more work to do of my own, which I'm looking forward to getting to."
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20.
Meadow Brook Amphitheatre on the campus of Oakland University, Rochester Hills.
Tickets are $79.50-$149.50 pavilion, $30 lawn.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.
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