The Knicks owner remembers the late musician's pursuit of perfection

By Maggie Parker
January 22, 2016 08:30 PM

You’re used to seeing him sitting courtside at Knicks games or watching from a suite at Rangers games, but on Thursday night James Dolan – owner of the Knicks, Rangers and Liberty – was playing a different role entirely.

The executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company has his own band, JD and the Straight Shot, and they celebrated the release of their album Ballyhoo! at the Rose Bar in New York City.

The bluegrass-type group played a handful of songs for fans and Dolan’s famous friends including Lorne Michaels, Zac Posen and Chris Carmack.

But the night was also spent remembering another of his famous friends: Glenn Frey, who died Monday. It was the Eagles member who taught Dolan a very important lesson about making it in the music industry.

“He was the leader of the Eagles, and he had a standard and a work ethic that he imparted – and he had willing participants in the rest of the band – but he was not satisfied until it reached a very, very high level,” Dolan told PEOPLE after performing. “He was insatiable in his appetite in the pursuit of reaching that sound and you could hear it in every show they did.”

Dolan is honoring his late friend by displaying that same level of determination. “I talk to our guys and say, ‘We cannot practice enough, we can get better at this, you think it’s good now but we can get better.’ That really is Glenn and his epitaph.”

Dolan was lucky enough to open for the band many times, but nothing can compare to the first time he took the stage with the Eagles.

“The first time? Scary as hell, there was nobody there,” he recalls. “I just remember being scared, thinking, ‘Can I really do this?’ When we did the sound check, I was like, ‘We’re way too high and there are way too many seats out there,'” Dolan laughed. “But you know, we went out and did it.”