Why Don Henley Called Eagles Manager ‘Satan’
When Don Henley made some colorful remarks about Eagles manager Iving Azoff during the industry veteran's induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this month, it recalled something the singer and drummer said at the band’s own induction in 1998.
“I wanna thank Irving Azoff, without whom we wouldn’t be here today,” he told the audience back then. Bandmate Glenn Frey then deadpanned: “Well, we might still be here, but we wouldn’t have made as much money.” Henley replied: “Right. As I’ve said before, he may be Satan – but he’s our Satan.”
(Henley recently clarified his remarks. “The whole Satan comment has been widely misunderstood," he explained. "What I meant was: If you mistreat one of Irving’s clients, then there will be consequences.”)
Speaking via video during the curtailed 2020 ceremony, Henley appeared to revisit the theme. “Irving Azoff in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?" he asked. "Why not? It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve inducted somebody who couldn’t sing or play an instrument.”
All was not quite what it seemed, of course. In fact, Azoff’s connection with the Eagles appears stronger than ever. They were one of the 72-year-old’s first clients when he started climbing to the big time in the ‘70s, before he went on to look after the affairs of Bon Jovi, Stevie Nicks, Steely Dan and many others. He was named the most powerful person in the music industry by Billboard in 2012, with a legacy including two record labels, a rights-management corporation and top roles at both Ticketmaster and Live Nation.
Watch Don Henley Call Irving Azoff ‘Satan’
In a recent interview with the Los Angeles Times, Azoff explained how he regarded the management role as all-encompassing. “My calls can be everything from, ‘My knee buckled, I need a doctor’ to ‘My kid’s in jail,'" he explained. "I mean, you have no idea. The ‘my kid’s in jail’ one was a funny one, because the artist then said to me, ‘Y’know, I’ve thought about this. Maybe we should leave him there for a while.’”
The manager recalled developing a passion for golf with Frey, which led to Eagles tours being booked around the courses they wanted to play. “We made Henley crazy,” Azoff noted. “Henley would call me in my room, and he’d go, ‘Why the fuck are we in a hotel in Hilton Head North Carolina and starting a tour in Charlotte? Is this a fucking golf tour?’”
Even though he said he learned his “swagger” from Frey and Henley, and owned up to having helped Joe Walsh trash hotel rooms (and presumably dealt with the aftermath), Azoff insisted he never indulged in some of the band’s more extreme pastimes. “Artists like knowing the guy flying the plane is sober,” he observed.
During this year’s induction, Walsh joined the fun by commenting: “He has a beautiful house that we bought him and a beautiful car that we bought him. It’s a wonderful life that we made possible for him." But he was sincere with his preface that "we love him — all the guys in the Eagles love him.”
When Azoff took his own turn to speak, he returned the favor: “Everything I learned about the business, I learned managing them," he said. “No one has taught me more about the importance of protecting artists rights than Don Henley.” He summed up what he’s learned over the years: “Be brave. Own as much as you can. Depend on no one but yourselves. Protect intellectual property at all costs. Take the long road. Fear nothing and no one. I promise you it will pay off.”