As Paul McCartney proved to be the artist who could become a commercial success away from The Beatles, so too did Don Henley show that he could fly without his Eagles.

Long a part of the Linda Ronstadt / Jackson Browne SoCal laid back country-pop sound, Henley and The Eagles became one of the 1970s most successful artists. Their Eagles Greatest Hits still holds the record for best selling album of all time, despite a regular tug-of-war with Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Henley, the handsome Texan with a political agenda, was a drummer and vocalist a la Phil Collins. Without his former bandmates, Henley never had a #1 single, but The Boys of Summer (I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac) climbed as high as #5. Henley also won two Grammys. The last was a collaborative effort with Bruce Hornsby for The End of the Innocence.

Despite being identified with two earlier eras, however, it was 200’s Inside Job that charted at #7 on the Billboard album charts, Henley’s highest mark ever.

Meanwhile, the former Eagle founded a charity called The Walden Woods Project to preserve the area made famous by Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. Henley also received a National Humanity Medal for his work with the Thoreau Institute, which not only focused on the Walden land, but broadened its mandate to environmental issues.

Always willing to take a political stand and, like Bono and others, unafraid to use his celebrity for attention, Henley testified before Congress in 2003 and said, “This unprecedented control over the music industry by the conglomerates is hurting the music business and the culture.” Despite his efforts and movements around the web, the music industry retains as tight a grip as always on its product.