To The Limit: The Untold Story of the Eagles (excerpts)

by Marc Eliot

Page 128-129

Late in 1975, Henley became involved with Stevie Nicks of Fleetwood Mac, a relationship that made headlines.

Nicks had begun her singing career in San Francisco in the late sixties, met guitarist Lindsey Buckingham, and moved with him to Los Angeles, where they tried to break into the new spawning ground for mainstream rock. In 1975, they met drummer Mick Fleetwood, shortly thereafter joined him in the tenth configuration of his group, and recorded the groundbreaking Fleetwood Mac . Released on Warner/Reprise in August of 1975, it charted for over a year and sent the band on the road for an extended tour.

One night, Henley, long an admirer and aware of the competition between the two bands for best-selling album of the year, decided to pick up the phone and call Nicks, even though they'd never ment or talked to each other before. The two hit it off, and a series of intense wherever-you-are-I'll-find-you calls ensued, during which they commiserated on the loneliness of the long-distance rock-star lifestyle. Henley, still full of Rodkin, found a sympathetic soul in Nicks, who'd recently split from Buckingham. How much worse off was she, Nicks asked Henley, having to perform with her ex every night?

Inevitably, the two groups played the same cities. Knowing Henley was planning to make an appearance backstage one night, Mick Fleetwood and John and Christine McVie of the Mac decided to play a little joke on Nicks by sending her a bouquet of flowers with a card "signed" by Henley that read, "The Best of My Love...Tonight? Don..." A highly offended Nicks fumed over what she considered Henley's arrogance, until he convinced her he had nothing to do with the prank. The two then began a serious two-year affair.

Nicks remembered it this way. "When Lindsey and I broke up during Rumours , I started going out with Don...He was really cute, and he was elegant. Don taught me how to spend money. I just watched him, that's how. He didn't visibly set out to do that. I just watched him. He was okay with, say, buying a house [just] like that, or sending a Lear jet to pick you up.

"He is sexy. He's such an interesting guy. Here's one thing that Don did that freaked my band out so much. We were all in Miami, Fleetwood Mac and the Eagles. They're recording at this gorgeous house they'd rented on the water. It's totally romantic, like Mar-a-lago. Anyway, he sends a limousine driver to our hotel with a box of presents for me, and they delivered it right into the breakfast room where everyone's eating. There's a stereo, a bunch of fabulous records. There's incredible flowers and fruits, beautiful... The limousine driver is taking all this out onto the table, and I'm going 'Oh, please, please, this is not going to go down well.' And they want to know who it's from. And Lindsey is not happy... So I went out with Don for a while. I went out with J.D. Souther for a while [as well]. We had an incredible time. Those Eagles were an interesting group of guys."

She became pregnant, and neither doubted Henley was the father. The "situation" was resolved quickly and quietly when Nicks, between tour dates, had an abortion. Although Henley did not try to force the issue, according to friends, she was deeply upset about what she considered his fast and easy consent to her decision. Nicks took it as Henley's way of saying he wasn't intersted in any type of serious long-term commitment. As had become his pattern, in the beginning Henley played the ultimate Southern-charm gentleman -- flowers, phone calls, words of love, Lear jets to Paris for romantic dinners. In the end he was distant, unreachable, brooding, argumentative, and elusive. It was a pattern by now so familiar to the Eagles crew it had become a running joke. Henley's favored method of seduction became to be known as "Love 'em and Lear 'em".

Years later, Henley had this to say about his affair with Nicks: "[Stevie had] named the unborn kid Sara, and she had an abortion." She then wrote the song of the same name (which became a huge hit for her) and, according to Henley, dedicated it "to the spirit of the aborted baby".

Page 168

(Note: They're talking about how the band changed after Hotel California .)

It was a feeling that couldn't have been helped when Rolling Stone published the results of its second Annual Readers' Poll, and the Artist of the Year award went to the Eagles' chief competitiors, Fleetwood Mac. Runners-up included Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Peter Frampton, and Stevie Wonder. Male Vocalist went to James Taylor, who beat out Jackson Browne. Female Vocalist went to Linda Ronstadt, with Stevie Nicks coming in second. "Dreams", Fleetwood Mac's hit single off their Rumours album, beat out "Hotel California" (second) for Best Single of the Year. Band of the Year also went to Mac, the Eagles again coming in second. Rolling Stone's poll accurately reflected the difference between the popularity of the Eagles and Fleetwood mac. The British-American group would always have a broader if less intense following. Quite simply, the presence of Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie was what seperated the men from the boys. The eagles' primary audience ranged across the board, if more single male adolescent than boomer couples. If Mac also "aged" more gracefully, it was because the music it made came from the real-life drama of its romantic relationships, while the songs of the Eagles seemed by comparison to come from loners, not-so-young men acting like teenage boys still on the sexual make.

Thanks to Ali for posting this to the Ledge and to Anusha for formatting and sending it to us.