Steely Dan fired Don Henley for his “No Good” vocals on “Peg”

The longtime producer Greg Katz recalls the failed collaboration from 1977

Steely Dan fired Don Henley for his “No Good” vocals on “Peg”

Photo: Derek Russell (right)

Published January 14, 2022

Perennial Steely Dan producer Gary Katz has released some “Dirty Laundry” on Don Henley and the time when he had to do “Dirty Work” firing the Eagles singer from a recording session.

In a new interview with Ultimate classic rock, Katz recalled the production of Steely Dan’s hit “Peg”, from the 1977s Just. Both groups shared the same manager (Irving Azoff) and had become friends, so when they needed a different voice to fill the song, Henley seemed like the obvious choice.

“In the chorus, the background is a kind of lead role; it was not like one [usual] background part, “Katz said of” Peg. “When producer and Steely Dan co-founder Donald Fagen both liked Henley’s song, they thought,” Why don’t we call Henley and Linda Ronstadt? Maybe it would be cool and something else. ‘”Katz remembered,” So I called Irving; Linda was not feeling well, so Nicolette Larson came. “

According to the producer, “Fagen went out as he would with anyone and sat down at the piano,” when Henley and Larson arrived at the session to teach them their vocal parts.

Katz remembered:

[Fagen] said: “This is how the part goes.” We played the number on the speakers, and Fagen used the piano to teach each of them their roles. [Henley] came in and they tried it … and it might as well have been me and you. There was not patience so much as immediate reaction to the realities of the moment – we did not move people away by letting them believe it would work and let them sit for two hours. When we knew it would not be okay, Fagen would say I should finish it. So they sang it again and it was not good.

After the second disappointing attempt, Fagen invited bandmate Walter Becker to “pick up a sandwich.” Fagen said to Katz: “Oh, fire them,” when the couple was on their way out of the studio – the instruction left the producer “with his finger up his ass and had to fire Henley. Which I did – and have heard about 35 years ago, on various ways.”

“The last time I saw Henley, he walked over to me and he said, ‘Are you going to fire me again today, Katz?’” The technician added. “But he did not smile when he said that.”

Doobie Brothers’ Michael McDonald ended up being brought in to complete the recording of “Peg,” which you can hear below.

Recently, Fagen teamed up with David Crosby – Phoebe Bridgers’ nemesis.


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