Bartus has been soaring with the Eagles for many years…

Bartus has been soaring with the Eagles for many years…

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I was a young musician who happened to be enrolled in the marine biology program at the University of South Carolina. That college campus was my ticket to seeing the best musicians and bands of our time, up close and personal (how close depended upon one’s willingness to camp out at the box office overnight for first crack at good seats).

Concert ticket prices back then (circa 1980) generally ranged between $10-15, and some were even free as part of our college’s campus programs. It wasn’t a bad price to pay to see one’s favorite musical acts do their stuff, and I somehow managed to see a lot of great shows. There were, however, a few I regretfully missed. Among those were the first-ever American tours from Dire Straits and the Police, and Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band touring on The River album.

Also circa 1980, the Eagles had just released The Long Run album. I was excited to hear the announcement that those very same Eagles scheduled a date at Carolina Coliseum as part of The Long Run tour. The excitement turned into disappointment when I heard that tickets would cost a minimum of $30. I didn’t pay anywhere near $30 to see Bob Dylan, Billy Joel, Elton John, the Doobie Brothers, or anyone else in that 1978-1982 timeframe. Thirty dollars was a lot of money for a concert in those days. I said to myself, “Those prices are a little stiff… I’ll catch them on their next tour.”

As we all know (now), internal strife and acrimony led to the breakup of the Eagles following The Long Run tour. Glenn was fed up with Henley. Henley couldn’t stand Joe. Joe liked Glenn but was ambivalent about everybody else through his alcoholic haze. Nobody liked Felder, even if he did come up with the tastiest guitar licks of the 1970s. And poor Timothy B. Schmidt—he quits Poco to join the Eagles for one album and a couple of tours, and they implode. (A side note: I actually saw Schmidt a couple of times performing as the bassist in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band. He sang “I Can’t Tell You Why,” and that’s the closest I thought I’d ever get to seeing the Eagles.) Things had gotten so bad between the band members, Don Henley said they would only reunite “when Hell freezes over.” I knew I would never see the Eagles.

Hell froze over in 1994. Since then, apart from the acrimonious split with Don Felder, the Eagles have been playing to sold-out venues around the world. If that weren’t enough, in late 2007 the Eagles actually released a double CD of new material, The Long Road Out Of Eden. And earlier this year, nearly everyone associated with the Eagles all agreed to bare their souls in front of the camera so that History of the Eagles could be made for cable, Blu-Ray, and DVD release. They dug up dirt and reopened old wounds… and all made a ton of cash in the process. Regardless of my cynicism, it is still a decent insight into the inner workings of the band and the sleaze of the music business.

When I finally did see the Eagles in 2008, they were nothing short of phenomenal. Their four- and five-part harmonies were perfect beyond perfection. Nobody missed or flubbed a note. It was worth it to finally see them, even if the tickets cost a hell of a lot more than $30. They are touring again this year, and the tour is called “History of the Eagles.” (Betcha didn’t see that one coming!) I think I will miss them this year… my budget for Eagles expenditures has been Taken to the Limit, and those dollars are Already Gone. Besides, Jeff Beck and Brian Wilson are coming to town…

Also, thank you to everyone who voted for me as Best Local Celebrity in this year’s Best of Marathon contest. I am honored and humbled, and grateful for all who helped The Weekly and the Rotary Club of Marathon raise funds for needed improvements at Kreative Kids.

Catch John with Storm Watch this Saturday at Hawks Cay as part of Heroes Welcome. John will also be at the Key Colony Inn on Sunday and Sparky’s Landing on Thursday.

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