Steve Vai and Steuart Smith Perform "Hotel California" as Eagles Look On
The 39th Annual Kennedy Center Honors aired on CBS December 27, 2016, celebrating James Taylor, Al Pacino, Mavis Staples, Argentine pianist Martha Argerich and the Eagles.
The annual broadcast usually features at least one emotional performance (Remember when Heart completely crushed “Stairway to Heaven” as Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones looked on in 2012?), and December 27 was no exception.
Below, check out a pro-shot clip of Steve Vai, Colombian singer Juanes and Eagles guitarist Steuart Smith performing “Hotel California” in front of Eagles Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit.
Let’s get right to the business end of things: The truncated guitar solo gets off the ground at 2:35. Smith, who was hired by the Eagles in 2001 to replace Don Felder, kicks things off, followed by Vai at 2:49. Then they jump right into the famous dual-guitar section and wrap things up after a single go-around.
Although Walsh, Henley and Schmit nod their obvious approval at various points, one can’t help but miss Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey, who died in January 2016—one of many celebrity deaths that year—at age 67.
The show featured several other performances of Eagles tunes, including Vince Gill’s reading of “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and Bob Seger’s rocking “Heartache Tonight.” You can watch them both—plus Ringo Starr’s introduction speech—in the bottom video.
The show was hosted by Stephen Colbert. During “Life in the Fast Lane,” Vai played a guitar solo while his arms were wrapped around Colbert. You can watch that magic moment at 14:41 in the bottom video.
PHOTO: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images