Don Henley may be a legendary singer, but even rockstars can get fired. During a recent interview with Ultimate Classic Rock, Steely Dan produced Gary Katz recalled how the band hired The Eagles frontman to track vocals while recording their 1977 "Peg" but eventually fired him because his contribution was "no good."
“In the chorus, the backgrounds are sort of the lead,” Katz explained. “It wasn’t like a [usual] background part.”
As they were putting the track together, Katz and Steely Dan frontman Donald Fagan agreed that they “both liked Henley’s singing” and decided to bring him in along with Linda Ronstadt to record some vocals for the song.
“So, I called Irving [Azoff, the Eagles and Steely Dan’s manager]… Linda wasn’t feeling well, so Nicolette Larson came,” Katz remembered.
Unfortunately, the result was not what the band wanted. “There wasn’t patience as much as instant reaction of the realities of the moment,” Katz said. “We didn’t jerk people off by letting them think it was going to work and have them sit for two hours. When we knew it wasn’t going to be OK, Fagen would tell me to end it. So they sang it again, and it was no good.”
Fagan then told Katz he needed to fire Henley and Larson, which he did “and have heard about for 35 years since, in various ways.”
“The last time I saw Henley, he sidled up to me … and he said, ‘Are you going to fire me again today, Katz?’ But he didn’t smile when he said that,” the producer revealed.