LOS ANGELES - John Mayer and the Dixie Chicks helped guide Don Henley on a trip through his musical memories that left the singer-songwriter feeling "very strange."
They joined Henley's Eagles bandmate Timothy B. Schmit, Sam Moore, Keb Mo, Trisha Yearwood, Michael McDonald, Shawn Colvin and Seal in launching Grammy weekend by honoring the 59-year-old Henley as MusiCares Person of the Year on Friday night.
Surrounded by his wife, three daughters and son, Henley listened as the biggest hits of his career with the Eagles and as a solo artist were interpreted in the city where the band formed in the early 1970s.
His favorite? "The End of the Innocence," performed in drawn-out fashion by Colvin.
Seal offered up his take on the Eagles hit "Best of My Love." Later, Henley told the crowd, "I used to hate that song and now I like it again."
Mayer's guitar work highlighted "Dirty Laundry," Henley's scathing indictment of television news. Moore, half of the 1960s duo Sam and Dave, did a soulful version of the Eagles' hit "The Long Run."
The opening chords of the songs, a soundtrack of the 1970s and '80s, triggered cheers, including "Desperado," by the Dixie Chicks, who like Henley, are from Texas.
"It's a very strange sort of out-of-body experience," Henley told more than 2,000 people at the Los Angeles Convention Center. "I feel like I'm at my own memorial service. It would be nice to have a funeral like this. I actually started to like some of these songs again."
Bernie Taupin, Elton John's longtime lyricist, noted Henley's reputation as a "bit of a curmudgeon."
And the outspoken Henley lived up to it, taking shots at record labels Columbia, EMI Capitol, Warner Brothers and executives Doug Morris of Universal Music Group and Jimmy Iovine of Interscope Records.
"Thank you for contributing to this fund for indigent record executives," he told the crowd. "You didn't think I was going to get up here and be nice."
It was a working evening for Henley, who joined his band to sing "The Boys of Summer," "Wasted Time," "Life in the Fast Lane," and "Hotel California," the classic Eagles tune that featured a trumpet intro.
Taupin complimented Henley for putting a literary slant on his work.
"Songwriters are basically a seething mass of respect and jealousy," Taupin said. "He's written so many things I wish I had."
Henley responded, "I wish I'd had your catalog. I could quit tomorrow."
Instead, Henley and the Eagles are in the studio finishing up their first album of all-new music since 1979. They plan to tour later this year and into 2008.
Henley was honored for his achievements as a musician and for his philanthropic work benefiting environmental issues and musicians' rights and concerns.
Friday's dinner and auction raised $4.2 million for MusiCares, the highest grossing evening in the tribute's 14-year history, Recording Academy president Neil Portnow said.
MusiCares, run by the Recording Academy, provides financial assistance to individuals in the music industry during times of need.
"The main thing is we raised all this money," Henley said.
On the Net:
Grammy Awards: http://www.grammy.com/musicares/