As we noted in our Definitive Guide to the Music of The Big Lebowski, Glenn Fry was not pleased to learn that the Dude hates the fucking Eagles, and had strong words for Jeff Bridges about it. Now, for the first time, a secret source close to Frey reveals what happened when the Eagles co-founder learned that his band was mocked in the film.
March 7, 1998 (morning)
Glenn Frey is polishing his gold records in his Brentwood mansion. He has a collins glass of cheap vermouth on the rocks in one hand and a fistful of leopard-print chamois in the other. He chuckles, “Hey Henley, I just thought of the best idea. Don? Don…?” Henley's not there. The house is empty.
March 7, 1998 (evening)
Frey is seated in his local Loews Cineplex alone. He's got a full bag of popcorn. He's whistling “Life in the Fast Lane.” He starts whistling louder and staring awkwardly at the couple next to him, but they are perplexed. No one recognizes him. As the previews are about to start his gigantic cell phone rings.
“Heat is on. Frey here. [It's Don Henley] Hey bro! Oh man, I'm so glad you called. Look, I've got the best idea. What if…wait…are you sitting down? What if…we did a new version of 'Hotel.' [Sotto voce] But, get this: we do it in Spanish. Y'know, with like a gypsy vibe?” [Silence] Yeah! Right? Well look, I'm at a flick. Well, it's got kind of a dumb name. It's about this gigantic Polack, er, Polish American or something. Yeah, I'm gonna see if I can snag some sweet art-film gash on the way out. I'll ring ya back after.”
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March 7, 1998 (roughly an hour or so later)
“I've had a rough night, and I hate the fucking Eagles, man,” the Dude tells his cab driver onscreen as “Peaceful Easy Feeling” plays, moments before he's thrown out onto the street.
Frey starts, dry heaves, and then launches a mouthful of half-chewed popcorn clear across the crowded theater. “Jesus H. Motherloving Tapdancing Christmas!” he shrieks, adding, “BRIDGES!” He pitches a soccer-riot-sized fit and exits the theater, crying hysterically.
For the next few months, Frey frantically calls every lawyer in Holllywood. He even calls Henley so many times that Henley changes his number. Frey is crestfallen, a shell of his former self.
November 7, 1998
Months of anguish have taken their horrible toll. Glenn Frey is now sitting in a pile of spent canned air horns holding a phone with a phone book in front of him. “….Jeffrey Bridges?…look I hate the fucking Bridges, man! How 'bout that!” He blasts the air horn into the receiver and laughs maniacally as he crosses off another Jeff Bridges from his phonebook.
October 14, 1999:
A year later, Frey has recovered a little bit from his bad day at the movies. He's even back to doing his regularly scheduled gold record polishing. He's got his favorite glass of rotgut vermouth and his favorite animal-print chamois. He is, however, still waiting for Don to call back. Reflexively, he turns and looks at his phone. “C'mon Henley. C'mon man. What happened to us?” The phone is silent.
June 6, 2000
Glenn Frey is again polishing his gold records alone. His cellphone rings. The ringtone is, obviously, “Take it to the Limit.” “Heat is on. Frey here. Hen-man? Henster!? How've you been, bro? Look, I've got this lawyer who thinks we've got a case…” [It is not Don Henley] “…Oh, yeah. I'll, um, have to get back to you. Uh, sure, the check is in the mail. [Pause] You haven't heard from Henley have you? Do you have his new number, by any chance? Oh, just the gas company, right right, customer privacy and all…yeah. I get it.”
May 17, 2003
Years have passed. Frey's been through heavy therapy. He is now able to be in the same room as a White Russian. He is, again, in the middle of his gold record ritual when his phone rings. “Heat is on. Frey here. Hey man. [It's Joe Walsh] Sure, I'm always down to party. Santa Barbara? Double bonus! Righteous. Pick me up at 8? Oh, that's right, you don't drive.”
Hours later, Frey and Walsh pull up to a large Santa Barbara estate. They stroll coolly into the swanky spread. There are people relaxing by an infinity pool. There are even more people crowded around a large firepit, partying. Walsh fails to realize the gravity of his mistake until Frey calls out, “Hey Joey boy, whose sweet pad is this?” As he finishes the sentence, his eyes lock on “BRIDGES!” There's a short circuit somewhere inside of him. Wires are crossing, arms are flailing, his face is sweating, and he's sputtering bizarre glossolalia. But he steels himself. Breathes deep. Plants both feet on the ground and marches straight over.
Bridges is relaxed on a comfy divan, regaling some gathered guests with a hilarious anecdote, delivered calmly and confidently. The small group laughs.
“Excuse me,” Frey says quietly as he approaches.
No response. Bridges is in the middle of the story.
“Excuse me,” Frey repeats louder.
“Oh, hey man. Grab a cushion,” Bridges welcomes.
“We smooth-rocked the world!” Frey spits out.
“Huh?” Bridges replies.
“The Eagles, you bastard, The Fucking Eagles!”
“Oh, um, look…man…”
“The heat is off, Bridges…the heat. Is. OFF! Man!”
Frey walks away, proud of himself.
Bridges puckers for a split second and then continues his story, as if nothing happened.
L.A. Weekly is celebrating The Big Lebowski's 15th anniversary with a massive cover story tribute! Check out our other Lebowski-themed stories. Not doing so would be very un-Dude.