Joe Walsh of The Eagles, left, gets some help with his mike by Irving Azoff,… (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles…)
Three of the Eagles, the band that will kick off a new era of concert-going at the Forum in Inglewood when it reopens Jan. 15, waxed nostalgic about their own experiences at the 45-year-old facility that’s being reinvigorated to the tune of nearly $100 million by Madison Square Garden Co.
“It was always a great-sounding room,” founding guitarist, singer and songwriter Glenn Frey told The Times moments before taking the dais to address a crowd of more than 100 members of the press, city officials and community leaders gathered under a tent about 100 yards from the Forum, which is in the midst of a major makeover. Others on hand to speak included Eagles manager Irving Azoff of Azoff Music Management, MSG Co. Executive Chairman James L. Dolan, MSG Co. President and CEO Hank Ratner and Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts.
“I think it’s not only going to be a premier venue again,” Frey said, “I think it could be the premier place to play.” He noted that the band played 10 shows at the arena over three separate tours, and recalled attending concerts by other acts, as well as sporting events, long before the Eagles reached the point in its career when it could headline arenas. “I remember coming to see shows here when our band was still trying to make it to the Santa Monica Civic [Auditorium],” he said. “I feel like everybody in Los Angeles has a relationship with the Forum, and that’s going to be rekindled.”
PHOTOS: Concerts by The Times
Once in front of the invited audience, guitarist and chief jester Joe Walsh quipped, “I spent a couple of days in the Forum Club one night. I don’t remember much about it, but I’m told I had a really good time.”
Then he noted soberly, “When we come off the road and fly into [LAX], looking out on the Forum and seeing it in a state of disrepair, it always made me really sad. Southern California does kind of have a habit of tearing down places of significance, and building up silly concrete things in their place. I’m so happy they saved the building….As a musician, I just want to say thank you for a real place to play in Los Angeles.”
Bassist-singer Timothy B. Schmit said he first played the Forum when he was a member of country-rock band Poco, when the band got an opening slot. After he joined the Eagles in 1977, he returned as part of the headlining act.
MSG Entertainment President Melissa Ormond said the Forum has qualified for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, and Ratner said the reinvigorated Forum is projected to have an economic impact of $1.4 billion in the region over the next 30 years.
Inglewood Mayor Butts thanked the Rev. Kenneth Ulmer and Forum Enterprises CEO Mark Little the Faithful Central Bible Church, which bought the Forum in 2000 and sold it last year to MSG “for holding onto the Forum for so long. A lot of real estate companies wanted to come in here and put up a bunch of condominiums.”