Airing Don Henley's "Dirty Laundry" on His 64th Birthday

Categories: Music News
It's not surprising that of all Don Henley's massive hits -- with the Eagles as well as solo -- his most massive chart triumph was his first individual effort, "Dirty Laundry," in 1982. Henley, who turns 64 today, wrote the song as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on the sad state of the media biz, specifically the tawdry tabloid approach that categorized the TV industry at that time. "Crap is king," he declared, making clear his disdain for the sensationalist tack news people pursued at the time, a trend that continues to the present day. In concert, he's been known to dedicate the song to Rupert Murdoch and Bill O'Reilly, two men whose behavior suggests they are direct descendants of the sleazy journalists Henley lambasted at the time.

Although Henley has said the song's inspiration drew from the intrusive media coverage generated by the deaths of certain celebrities -- John Belushi and Natalie Wood in particular -- he could also count himself among the media's prey. However, in his case, Henley was hardly innocent. On November 21, 1980, a 911 call from Henley's home led the L.A. Fire Department to find a naked 16-year-old prostitute who had OD'ed on cocaine. Henley later entered a plea of no contest to the misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and received two years' probation. He denied knowing how old she was, insisted he never had sexual contact with her, and all but blamed his roadies for her ingestion of drugs.

Don Henley - "Dirty Laundry"

In fact, Henley has plenty of dirty laundry of his own, so much so that the song was initially believed to be about his own missteps. And according to Eagles insiders, that laundry could get pretty stinky. He's frequently been accused of egotism and arrogance, minor complaints compared to alleged indiscretions involving drugs, debauchery, and prostitution. The band's history -- not to mention best-selling books like the Hollywood tell-all You'll Never Make Love in This Town Again and Don Felder's Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001) -- is littered with tales of head-butting between Henley and his fellow bandmates. Likewise, his torrid romance with Stevie Nicks also provided plenty of fodder for the gossip columns. Once she became pregnant, Henley withdrew from the relationship and Nicks opted for an abortion, later penning the song "Sara" in tribute to the unborn child. 

Nicks' former beau Lindsey Buckingham also made note of Henley's lack of discretion. He claims that his participation in the making of Henley's Building the Perfect Beast album led Henley to suggest that they go out on the road together while billing their jaunt as a former Stevie Nicks' lovers tour. 

Hmmm... that's one of several tasteless tidbits. Could Henley have been the inspiration for Charlie Sheen's mental meltdown? Of course, none of these disparaging remarks takes into account Henley's efforts and activism when it comes to social awareness, his political pontifications, environmental concerns, and his ongoing campaign on behalf of musicians' rights.

Still, his renegade reputation precedes him. Mojo Nixon's song "Don Henley Must Die" pretty much sums up the vicious vibes he often inspires.

Follow County Grind on Facebook and Twitter: @CountyGrind.

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

Oh crap. Henley is a pompous ass with an ego larger than Texas. Additionally, everything he does socially (charities) is planned and has an agenda which is to make him appear to be a nice guy. He is not. Can he entertain? Yes, of course he can. However that is about all he can do, Barbara, you do not know him. I know him well.

barbara mccroy
barbara mccroy

To whom it may concern:  Don Henley is an outstanding citizen for this country. He gives to several non profit organizations, he is very serious about preserving our land,he understands that his voice holds  lots of power and he always uses his voice for the good. He is not about bullshit!  If you do not know much about his music and his lyrics then I highly recommend anyone of any age within reason to check him out. While you are enjoying the rhythm and melody, you will surely enjoy his lyrics more. His lyrics are profound, thought provoking,and extremely perceptive. If he is not singing about his own real life and making fun of himself , he is singing about all of us and our real lives and trying to warn us all for the good with his great gut instincts. Yes Don Henley dealt with a serious ordeal in 1980, I will never forget  that one day I was standing in my dads livingroom while he was sitting in his recliner chair watching the evening news and I looked at his face and he looked pretty pissed off to me and he stood up and  as he walked over to the kitchen his exact words were ' they are going to ruin that poor boys career' and then I turned and looked at the news and there was a young Don Henley standing in a courtroom before a judge on ,the television in front of God and everyone being exploited.So then what did Don Henley do, he owned up, took responsibility and  he took lemons and made lemonade and wrote the song DIRTY LAUNDRY!  As far as Don Henley and Stevie Nicks goes, they remain good friends to this day. One more thing, my dad felt very bad for the girl, but  he knew  deep down  the news was just trying to trash Don Henley. My dad was always for the underdog.

Now Trending

Miami Concert Tickets

From the Vault