Music

Kenny Rogers Positioned Don Henley to Meet The Eagles

AP Photo/Bob Galbraith and Jordan Strauss/Invision

In 1969, Shiloh, a Don Henley project that predates The Eagles, caught the ear of Kenny Rogers. Ultimately, Rogers taking Shiloh under his wing brought Henley to Los Angeles, where he met Linda Ronstadt, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and other important figures in the rise of country-rock.

While still in high school in Texas, Henley and his friend Jerry Surratt joined a Dixieland band formed by their friend Richard Bowden's father, Elmer. The three teens soon started their own band, the Four Speeds. The band changed its name to the Felicity in 1964 and recorded a Henley-penned garage-rock nugget titled "Hurtin'" by 1967.

After Rogers discovered the band, he helped the newly rechristened Shiloh get signed to Jimmy Bowen's Amos Records (the label home of Frey's pre-Eagles band, Longbranch Pennywhistle). Rogers produced the group's debut single, 1969's "Jennifer (O' My Lady)."

Surratt died in a dirt bike accident shortly before the single's release, leaving the Shiloh lineup as Henley; future Linden, Texas city councilman Richard Bowden; Bowden's cousin and future Emmylou Harris collaborator Mike Bowden; multi-instrumentalist Al Perkins; and future Mickey Gilley and Anne Murray producer Jim Ed Norman.

The band stayed at Rogers' home as he produced their lone album. The self-titled release from 1970 brought future seekers of Eagles-related rarities the swampy single "Simple Little Down Home Rock 'n' Roll Love Song For Rosie," the heavy-hitting "Swamp River Country," the folksy "Down on the Farm," harmony showpiece "Left My Gal in the Mountains," the more country-sounding "It's About Time" and nine-and-a-half minute closer "God is Where You Find Him."

Read More: Eagles Guitarist Deacon Frey Adds His Own Touch to Dad Glenn Frey's 'Take It Easy'

Henley went on to achieve superstardom with the Eagles, singing lead vocals on "Desperado," "Hotel California" and other classic rock staples. He also soared throughout a solo career highlighted by debut album I Can't Stand Still and Grammy winner "End of the Innocence."

Would fate have placed Henley behind the Eagles' drum kit for 1972's "Take It Easy," the band's timeless introduction to the masses, without Rogers? Who knows. But as things unfolded, Rogers deserves at least some credit for making Henley the right drummer in the right place at the right time.

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Kenny Rogers Positioned Don Henley to Meet The Eagles