For Don Henley, a Beatles star remains his primary influence: ‘I loved what he stood for, what he believed in’

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Asked about his primary influence in music, Don Henley might have been expected to mention the Byrds — whom he inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Or Elvis Presley, or perhaps a fellow Texan like Buddy Holly.

Instead, he goes back to a Beatle.

“John Lennon is still a great influence on my life, and my career,” Henley tells Uncle Joe Benson. “The first song I ever tried to sing in public was one of his songs; it was called ‘She’s a Woman.’ He was my biggest hero, even bigger than Elvis.”

Leaving the historical inaccuracy aside (“She’s a Woman,” a 1964 b-side to “I Feel Fine,” was actually penned — and sung — by Paul McCartney), Henley has continued to show an affinity for Lennon throughout his life. He memorably interpreted “Yes It Is,” as part of 1997’s The Bridge School Concerts, Vol. 1. Henley even sang a version of “In My Life,” from 1965’s Rubber Soul, to his new wife at their wedding in 1995.

“I admired John Lennon more than anybody in the music industry,” Henley adds. “I loved his voice, I loved his sense of humor — his dry wit. I loved the songs he wrote, the lyrics he wrote. I loved what he stood for, what he believed in, everything about him, really. He was a great influence on me.”

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