During a recent interview, former Eagles band member Jim Ed Norman spoke about reuniting with Don Henley for the group’s 2022 “Hotel California” tour. Norman has a more than 50-year relationship with Henley and the famous California band. He’s now once again touring with the band, but their history working together all started back in his college days in Texas.
Norman pursued a music career while attending North Texas State University in the late 1960s. As he tells it, he went for a walk through campus on a warm day. As he approached some apartments, he could hear Led Zeppelin’s music coming out of one apartment door. He stepped in and handed an album by The Dillards to one of the apartment’s residents. “Hey, you need to check this out,” Norman said to a young Don Henley of the Eagles. Their chance interaction would begin a long and fruitful music relationship that would see each garner considerable success within the industry.
Norman and Henley would end up joining the same band, Shiloh, which released a self-titled album in 1970. In fact, country music icon Kenny Rogers produced their album. Yet only one year later, the band would break up as the Eagles formed. Don Henley didn’t forget his college buddy though and called him up a couple years later to join his new band.
He would go on to become the Eagles’ arranger and piano player from 1973’s Desperado to 1976’s Hotel California. Additionally, he helped arrange and produce Glenn Frey’s No Fun Aloud in 1981. Jim Ed Norman’s long history with Don Henley and the Eagles has now come full circle as he joins the band’s 2022 tour.
Jim Ed Norman Credits the Eagles’ Don Henley for His Long Music Career
Norman still gives credit to Don Henley for his decades-long career in the music business following the piano player’s stint with the Eagles. He worked as a producer, A&R man, and eventually became president of Warner Music Nashville in 1984.
“It was really Don – because Don Henley and Glenn Frey, quite frankly, gave me [my first shot. There were many] conversations I had with people about [how] I’m an arranger and want to be an arranger, and I want to be involved in this portion of the business. It wasn’t until Don and Glenn gave me that shot on Desperado [that it finally happened]. So Desperado became the first thing that I ever did. That imprimatur, if you will, made it possible,” Norman said in an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock recently.
Because of Norman’s work on Hotel California, Don Henley and the rest of the band wanted to bring him back to play it live. That’s what spearheaded his return after all these years. Bringing their most famous album back to life in its entirety live in concert.
“All of those people who I had been trying to convince [to] let me do some arranging, they were calling saying, ‘Oh, Jim Ed, we didn’t know you were an arranger.’ It was just that stamp of approval. [Then] Don called and said, ‘We’re going to mount a Hotel California tour. We’re going to perform the album in its entirety.’ Because of the role the orchestra played on that record, [they wanted to feature that element as part of the tour],” he added.
The Eagles are currently making their way across America and Europe on the Hotel California tour. There’s only a dozen shows left, but fans can still buy tickets and get more information on the band’s official website here.