"The Boys of Summer" is a song released in 1984 by Eagles vocalist and drummer Don Henley, with lyrics written by Henley and music composed by Henley and Mike Campbell.

It is the lead track and first single from Henley's 1984 album Building the Perfect Beast and reached the top five in the United States as well as the top position on the Top Rock Tracks chart and number 12 in the UK Singles Chart. It re-charted at number 93 in August 2013.

The song's music video won many awards. "The Boys of Summer" was also performed live by Henley with the reunited Eagles; such a version is included on the group's 2005 Farewell 1 Tour-Live from Melbourne DVD.


 [hide*1 History


Henley's song is cemented by Campbell's 1-7-5 repetitive riff over a vi-IV-V-IV chord pattern. Superficially, the song appears to be about the passing of youth and entering middle age, with the theme of 'summer love' apparent in the choruses, and of reminiscence of a past relationship.[1]

In a 1987 interview with Rolling Stone, Henley explained that the song is more about aging and questioning the past[2]—a recurring theme in Henley's lyrics (cf. "The End of the Innocence",[3]and "Taking You Home".[4])

In an interview with NME in 1985, Henley explained the 'Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac' lyrics as an example of his generation selling out:

"I was driving down the San Diego freeway and got passed by a $21,000 Cadillac Seville, the status symbol of the Right-wing upper-middle-class American bourgeoisie – all the guys with the blue blazers with the crests and the grey pants – and there was this Grateful Dead 'Deadhead' bumper sticker on it!"[5][6]

In an interview with, Neil Giraldo, Pat Benatar's guitarist and husband, says that Henley came in the studio while he was in the process of recording the song "Love Is a Battlefield" using an up tempo beat, and asked Giraldo if he could steal the sound for use in his song, "The Boys of Summer", to which Giraldo gave his permission.[7]


"The Boys of Summer" reached number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and topped the Billboard Top Rock Tracks chart for five weeks. It was also a hit in the United Kingdom, reaching number 12 on the UK Singles Chart. A re-release of the single in 1998 also reached #12.

In 1986, Henley won the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for the song.[8]

"The Boys of Summer" was ranked #416 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Music video[edit]Edit

The music video to "The Boys of Summer" is a French New Wave-influenced piece directed by Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Shot in black-and-white, it shows the main character of the song at three different stages of life (as a young boy, a young adult and middle-aged), in each case reminiscing about the past relationship. This is shown during the line "A little voice inside my head said don't look back, you can never look back" at which point, each of the three people look back in turn. The young boy in the video, played by seven year old Josh Paul,[9] resembles a young Don Henley. The girl in the music video is played by Audie England. The cutaways of the "boys" jumping in the air appear to have been influenced by the 1938 film Olympia.[citation needed] Interspersed with these scenes are segments of Henley miming the words of the song while driving in a convertible. At its conclusion, the video uses the post-modern concept of exposing its own workings, as with a wry expression Henley drives the car away from a rear projection screen.

The video won the Video of the Year at the 1985 MTV Video Music Awards (leading Henley to comment at the Awards the following year that he had won for "riding around in the back of a pickup").[10] It also won that year's awards forBest DirectionBest Art Direction, and Best Cinematography. The Best Direction award was presented to Mondino by Henley's then-former Eagles bandmate Glenn Frey.

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (1984-1985) Peak


Canada (RPM) 15
Germany (Media Control Charts)[11] 18
Ireland (IRMA)[12] 7
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[13] 26
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[14] 18
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company)[15] 12
US Billboard Hot 100[16] 5
US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks[16] 1
Chart (1998) Peak


Ireland (IRMA)[12] 23
UK Singles (The Official Charts Company)[17] 12
Chart (2009) Peak


Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[18] 16
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[19] 35

Codeseven version[edit]Edit

Codeseven's album A Sense of Coalition (1998) gained popularity on college radio stations for a cover of "The Boys of Summer" (not to be confused with The Ataris' cover of the same song that became a mainstream radio hit years later).

DJ Sammy version[edit]Edit

"The Boys of Summer"
Single by DJ Sammy featuring Loona and Mel
from the album Heaven
Released November 18, 2002
Recorded 2001
Genre Trancedance
Length 4:55
Label Robbins/Ministry of Sound/Data
Writer(s) Don HenleyMike Campbell
DJ Sammy featuring Loona and Mel singles chronology


"The Boys of Summer"


"Rise Again"


Audio sample
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DJ Sammy (with vocals performed by Loona and Mel) covered the song in 2002. It was released in November 2002 as the third and last single released from the album Heaven. Despite not receiving the same critical acclaim as Henley's version, this cover peaked at number 2 in the United Kingdom - ten spots higher than the original in that country. It was certificated Platinum byRIANZ.[20]

List of remixes[edit]Edit

  1. Soulside Mix
  2. Green Court Remix
  3. Original Version
  4. Humate Remix
  5. Martin Eyerer Remix
  6. Original Radio Mix
  7. Original Extended Version
  8. Single Version
  9. Klubbheads Remix
  10. Jessy Remix
  11. BCD Project Remix

Music video[edit]Edit

There were two music videos for the single. The official one features DJ Sammy driving a classic Mercedes-Benz 190SL along winding roads on cliffs beside a seashore and Loona singing the lyrics while there are scenes of young people enjoying themselves at a beach. Sammy arrives in the evening at a dance party on the beach and meets a female acquaintance at the end of the video.

The alternate version features DJ Sammy driving a Mercedes-Benz CLK around Barcelona and is accompanied by a seemingly boisterous young man. Two girls are shown riding on a scooterfollowing them. The video ends when Sammy gets fed up with his opinionated passenger, stops his car, gets out and walks around it, pulls his companion and kicks him. Meanwhile, the two girls who were playing miniature golf nearby get in and drive away in the unattended car with DJ Sammy watching them drive off.

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (2002-2003) Peak


Australia (ARIA)[21] 9
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[22] 49
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[23] 20
Ireland (IRMA)[12] 15
New Zealand (RIANZ)[24] 3
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[25] 19
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[26] 36
United Kingdom (The Official Charts Company)[27] 2
US Billboard Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales[28] 5

The Ataris version[edit]Edit

"The Boys of Summer"
Single by The Ataris
from the album So Long, Astoria
Released September 29, 2003
Genre Pop punk
Length 4:20
Label Columbia
Writer(s) Don HenleyMike Campbell
The Ataris singles chronology
"In This Diary"


"The Boys of Summer"


"The Saddest Song"


Audio sample
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In 2003, the rock band The Ataris covered "The Boys of Summer" for their album So Long, Astoria. The song became their second single when a radio station began to play it. The Ataris' version of the song replaced the 'Deadhead sticker' reference with one more appropriate to the age group of their fans, namely a 'Black Flag sticker', in honor of the '80s punk band. The single peaked at #2 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart (held off the #1 top spot by Linkin Park's Faint) and #20 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remains their most successful single to date.[29]

Chart performance[edit]Edit

Chart (2003) Peak


Australian Singles Chart[30] 24
German Singles Chart[31] 45
New Zealand Singles Chart[32] 17
Swiss Singles Chart[33] 87
UK Singles Chart[34] 49
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[29] 20
U.S. BillboardHot Mainstream Rock Tracks[29] 36
U.S. BillboardHot Modern Rock Tracks[29] 2
U.S. BillboardHot Adult Top 40 Tracks[29] 18
U.S. BillboardTop 40 Mainstream[29] 10

Other versions[edit]Edit

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