The Canadian company that was bringing an Eagles “Hotel California” tribute show to the Tucson Symphony Orchestra this weekend never had a license to use the music of the 1970s super band, Eagles officials said Thursday, a day after they sent a cease and desist letter to the TSO.
Irving Azoff, the band’s longtime manager, said Jeans ’n Classics has never been licensed to perform the band’s catalogue, a fact the London, Ontario, company’s founder Peter Brennan confirmed Thursday.
Brennan said he was in the process of applying for a licensing agreement with the band.
The TSO has contracted with Brennan several times since their first show together in 2011: “Take It to the Limit — The Music of the Eagles.”
“The reason you buy a prepackaged show is that you assume they do have the licensing agreement,” said TSO President and CEO Thomas J. McKinney, noting that the orchestra will now require proof of the agreement for future events.
Jeans ’n Classics pairs a five- or six-piece rock band and vocalist with orchestras to perform covers of famous artists including Prince, Queen, the Beatles, Elton John.
Azoff said his company, Global Music Rights, never granted a license to Brennan, whose company has been producing the shows for 23 years. Global Music Rights, which oversees any use of the Eagles catalogue, has granted licenses in the past, but only after they have vetted the groups to ensure the music would be honorably represented, Azoff said.
“We’re worried about the quality of the work,” he said. “In the past couple of years, we’ve started doing this.”
Brennan said he only realized last spring that he would need a license from the groups whose music he was performing.
“Nobody — not only us — ever knew about these things. It was sort of this new thing that hit the industry,” said Brennan, who has nearly 40 tribute shows that perform throughout North America. “We’ve been scrambling to try and get these things in place.”
TSO had sold 3,200 tickets to its Saturday and Sunday “Hotel California” shows, McKinney said. But within hours of getting the cease and desist order, it canceled the show and replaced it with Jeans ’n Classics’ Led Zeppelin show, which Brennan said he has the license for.
Azoff said that after consulting with Eagles founding member Don Henley, he called McKinney on Wednesday evening and offered to give the TSO a license for this weekend’s concerts. But McKinney told him they had already switched gears and notified ticketholders of the program change.
“They made the decision to pull the plug, not us,” Azoff said.
“We didn’t cancel the show and we didn’t ask them for $10,000” per song, he added, quoting a figure the TSO had in an email to ticketholders alerting them about the change. “I would never have asked them for any amount even close to that.”
As of Thursday afternoon, 850 TSO ticketholders had asked for refunds, including Eileen Bunge.
“I was really looking forward to that on Saturday,” said the Chicago transplant, who saw a “Star Wars” orchestra concert when she was living in Chicago and thought it would be fun to see an Eagles symphony show here.
It would have been her first TSO concert in the four years she has lived in Tucson, but she is hoping “something else will come up and we can go.”
“This was just a disaster yesterday,” McKinney said. “This was just horrible to happen at this late date, which is remarkable because we have been marketing this for over a year.”