Ed Driscoll

Keating Five, Eagles Zero

Over the weekend late at night, I watched the 27-hour long History of the Eagles documentary on Netflix. (I may be exaggerating the length slightly. But not by much.) I never followed the band in the ‘70s, because at the time, my motto when it came to rock was that if it’s not British, it’s crrrrrapppp, to paraphrase Mike Myers. (Ex-pats such as Jimi Hendrix and Chrissie Hynde were the exceptions that proved the rule.) So I didn’t know what specifically ended the group. I had no idea this trivial spat was the coke straw that broke the band:

On July 31, 1980, in Long Beach, California, tempers boiled over into what has been described as the “Long Night at Wrong Beach.” The animosity between Felder and Frey boiled over before the show began, when Felder said, “You’re welcome – I guess” to California Senator Alan Cranston’s wife as the politician was thanking the band backstage for performing a benefit for his reelection. Frey and Felder spent the entire show telling each other about the beating each planned to administer backstage. “Only three more songs until I kick your ass, pal”, Frey recalls Felder telling him near the end of the band’s set. Felder recalls Frey telling him during “Best of My Love”, “I’m gonna kick your ass when we get off the stage.”

Cranston looked a bit like Mr. Burns on the Simpsons. Beyond being a boilerplate malaise-era Dem, just a reminder of who he was:

Cranston was reprimanded by the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Ethics for “improper conduct” on November 20, 1991 after Lincoln Savings head Charles Keating’s companies contributed $850,000 to voter registration groups closely affiliated with the senator. Keating had wanted federal regulators to stop “hounding” his savings and loan association. Although the committee found that “no evidence was presented to the Committee that Senator Cranston ever agreed to help Mr. Keating in return for a contribution,” the committee deemed Cranston’s misconduct the worst among the Keating Five.

So let me get this straight: throughout the documentary, a running leitmotif is that the band was desperate to add some decent rock under their soaring harmony vocals. The band fires British superstar engineer-producer Glyn Johns (whose previous resume included the Stones, the Who, the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin’s first album) because he emphasized their harmonies and country sound. In response, they bring in Joe Walsh to rock out. And finally, when their other guitarist does something that’s actually rock and roll and utters a punk rock-style sneer to corrupt power, the entire band implodes?

Perfect.