Some Eagles fans are upset that Kennedy Center Honors omit former band members

(L-r) After Bernie Leadon left the band in 1975, the Eagles were Don Felder, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey and Randy Meisner.  Courtesy of Eagles Archives-Showtime

When the Kennedy Center doles out those coveted rainbow-striped medals Sunday to members of the legendary rock outfit the Eagles, some of the band’s fans won’t have the warm fuzzies.

Some Eagles devotees are upset about the Kennedy Center’s decision to give the award to four members of the Eagles (Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy Schmit and the late Glenn Frey) – and not to three onetime members the fans say contributed to the band’s sound and some of its best songs.

Superfan Brandon Butler started an online petition to add the three ex-Eagles – Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and Don Felder – to the Kennedy Center’s honoree list, and he lodged his complaint with the center. “There was a sense of outrage in the fan community,” Butler said, noting that the guys left out were responsible for some of the band’s most iconic licks (such as the riff at the beginning of “Hotel California”).

The Kennedy Center’s response? Sorry, not happening.

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“The Kennedy Center consulted with the Eagles and through that discussion, it was determined that the four band members who ‘carried the torch’ … will be awarded the Honors. We appreciate that there will be some debate about who constitutes the Eagles. This determination does not discredit the contributions of former band members,” President Deborah Rutter said in a statement to Butler.

The band has a complicated history with former members. (As Rolling Stone put it, “leaving the Eagles is like leaving the Mob: Once you’re gone, that’s it.”)

Butler says he was disappointed by the response but grateful that the Kennedy Center folks heard him and his fellow petitioners. “At least it didn’t fall on deaf ears,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we agree.”