How Eagles Ended Up on ESPN: ‘They Went Crazy, We Went Crazy’
Longtime Eagles manager Irving Azoff says both ESPN and the band "went crazy" over an "off the wall" concept to air their concert film Live at the Forum MMXVIII over the July 4 weekend.
The unlikely union between rock band and sports network began as a creative way to utilize a massive amount of footage filmed during Eagles' three-night stand on Sept. 12, 14 and 15, 2018 at the Forum in Los Angeles. Azoff and the group wanted to do something special with the material, which documents the first tour with recent recruits Deacon Frey and Vince Gill.
"As you can tell, it’s high-quality, hi-def, 14 4k cameras – the whole thing – and we did our best," Azoff told Pollstar. "We’ve been sitting on it, wanting to do something rather than just give it to a streaming service that wanted to own it into perpetuity – and if you do the research, live stuff doesn’t do that well anyway."
Since Eagles fans are "a little old-school," they originally made a traditional deal with Rhino Records for a DVD and audio version. But after COVID-19 forced the band to reschedule their Hotel California shows to 2021, they decided to satisfy concert cravings in the interim.
"People hadn’t had any live music for three months," Azoff said. "And we were all sitting around watching ESPN on Sunday nights; we all thought it was cool as hell. We watched The Last Dance and then the two weeks of 30 For 30 for Lance Armstrong, and then they had Sosa-McGwire running. So we thought, it’s the Forum, it’s the Eagles – wouldn’t it be cool to be on ESPN?"
On a "lark," someone in Azoff's office called up his friends at ESPN and pitched the quirky idea.
"They went crazy, we went crazy," Azoff said. "Then [ESPN announcer] Chris Berman, who’s a longtime friend of Glenn [Frey] and Joe [Walsh] and the band’s, got involved. It happened very quickly, and it was wildly successful. We sold a whole boatload of tickets to the rescheduled dates; we took a boatload of orders [for the forthcoming Rhino set], and a lot of people got to see it. It excited us; we had a blast. It just seemed natural to us, and we’re thrilled that the guys at ESPN agreed with us. We were trying to give everybody a Sunday night of touring when they’re stuck at home."
At the same time, Azoff offered a sobering prediction for the future of live music's return. "The hardship of having to wait until summer is ridiculous, but we’re in jeopardy of losing the summer," he said. "I see nothing to convince me that a return the summer of 2021 is good."
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