Don Henley testified on a sordid event during handwtitten Eagles' lyrics trial

Don Henley of the Eagles recently testified about troubling decisions he made during the trial involving ownership of handwritten lyrical notes.

"Hotel California" Trial Continues In New York City
"Hotel California" Trial Continues In New York City / Adam Gray/GettyImages

In a Manhattan courtroom, Don Henley, the iconic musician known for his role in the Eagles, recounted a tumultuous chapter from his past recently. Reflecting on a regrettable incident that occurred in 1980, Henley described it as a "poor decision" that he continues to grapple with even after 44 years. This revelation came during his testimony in a trial concerning the alleged theft of handwritten draft lyrics to several Eagles classics, including the legendary "Hotel California." Henley's narrative unfolded against the backdrop of a troubled period marked by the breakup of the band.

Seeking solace from the turmoil, he made an ill-advised choice, summoning a sex worker to his Los Angeles residence. His intention, he explained, was to temporarily escape the depression engulfing him. However, the night took a harrowing turn when authorities discovered drugs and a 16-year-old girl experiencing an overdose at his home. Recounting the events, Henley clarified in his testimony that while he did engage in cocaine use with the girl and shared a bed with her, there was no sexual intercourse involved, and he did not know her age.

Despite the chaotic circumstances, he promptly sought medical assistance for the girl, who ultimately recovered. Nonetheless, the incident led to Henley's arrest and subsequent legal repercussions, including a misdemeanor charge and probation. Henley's presence in the courtroom wasn't solely tied to his personal history. He was there to address the alleged misappropriation of valuable memorabilia related to the Eagles' musical legacy.

The Don Henley lyric sheet trial

At the heart of the trial were handwritten lyric sheets, integral to the creation of Eagles songs such as "Life in the Fast Lane" and "New Kid in Town." These documents, initially entrusted to a writer collaborating with the band, found their way into the hands of collectors over the years. As the prosecution's key witness, Henley shed light on the unauthorized circulation of these invaluable artifacts. He emphasized their personal significance, describing them as a glimpse into the band's creative process, never intended for public consumption.

Despite efforts to reclaim the stolen property, including purchasing some pages at considerable expense, Henley found himself entangled in a legal battle over their rightful ownership. The trial also uncovered an alleged web of deceit woven by the defendants, who (again, allegedly) concocted various explanations for the origins of the contested documents.

These claimed fabrications ranged from attributing their acquisition to backstage encounters to implicating band members. Amidst these intricate maneuvers, Henley remained steadfast in his pursuit of justice, underscoring what he considered the importance of artists' rights in preserving their creative legacies. The Eagles launched a final tour in 2023.