Excerpts from the profiles of the 2016 Honorees:

The Eagles are finished.

Don Henley is direct. The way he describes it, the group he helped lead since 1971 died with his longtime musical partner, Glenn Frey.

“I don’t see how we could go out and play without the guy who started the band,” says Henley.


On this, almost everyone was agreed: Al Pacino was looking like a disaster as Michael Corleone.

Shooting had begun in early 1971. Pacino recalls the Paramount suits looking at the rushes and saying: “What the hell is this kid doing? And he’s short to boot.” They thought he was delivering an “anemic” performance. The studio brass, Pacino says, “tried to fire me three times.”

There “was a movement not to have me in the part,” the 76-year-old actor recalls, sitting on the porch of his rental house in the flats of Beverly Hills. “I didn’t want me in the part.”


His brain was frosted with morphine, his heart petered, but his lungs remembered to breathe. Simple as that. He was dying — there were multiple times when he was dying — but his lungs always kept working, every time. And that’s why he is sitting here in September, many years later, sober, in a hotel bungalow that costs thousands of dollars a night. Instead of being dead at 22 or 27 or 33, like many of his artistic peers who sought solace in drugs, James Taylor, 68, fetches from the coffee table a crinkled printout of his discography: 18 studio albums and about 200 songs spanning 48 years of platinum-certified celebrity.

He stapled together his career because he wanted to see which themes kept dogging his music. He made lists. Keeps them on his iPad.


In a nondescript condominium on the south shore of this hard-nosed city, the elevator opens onto a bland hallway. Dark carpet, pale walls, closed doors, the vague scent of someone cooking the midday meal.

At the far end of the hall — the apartment with the view of Lake Michigan — a diminutive woman opens her door, smiles and enthusiastically waves.

It’s Mavis Staples!

It really is! It’s sort of amazing. Staples is one of the iconic figures of American popular music, and she’s beckoning you inside, no publicist or agent or anything, ready to give you a hug. If she’s 5 feet tall, she’s not 5-foot-1. Childhood nickname was “Bubbles,” for her bubbly disposition. Hasn’t changed a lick.


There are a few things everyone in the music world knows, or thinks they know, about Martha Argerich, the Argentine-born pianist who is getting a Kennedy Center Honor on Sunday. She’s private, moody and unpredictable. She’s wildly beautiful, with a long, thick mass of hair — once dark, now gray — and a radiant, quick smile, and at 75, she still wears the peasant blouses and cotton pants of a teenager circa 1968. And she plays the piano brilliantly, ferociously and, perhaps, better than anyone else on Earth.