Don Felder, former guitar player for the Eagles, appeared on our local Fox television station for an interview during the morning news show today. Felder is in town for a book signing to promote his new book, Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001).
During the interview Felder revealed some interesting tidbits from his past, including how he provided guitar lessons for a young Tom Petty and learned how he to play slide guitar from Duane Allman.
Felder spent some time living in Boston, and that is where he originally hooked up with the Eagles when he attended a concert at Boston University where the Eagles were the opening act for Yes.
Being friends with Eagles band member Bernie Leadon, Felder joined the group backstage in the dressing room where he played some guitar with Leadon and impressed Don Henley and Glenn Frey with his abilities.
After that experience, Leadon convinced Felder to move to California. After his arrival in The Golden State, Felder worked with David Crosby and Graham Nash for a while before Stephen Stills joined the group to form Crosby, Stills and Nash.
Called to do some session work on a new Eagles album, which apparently went well, Felder was asked to join the group the day after he finished working on the album with them.
Felder is not stingy with his praise for the musical talent of his former band mates and says that every member “brought brilliance musically to the band.” At the same time, there were “five huge egos in the band that eventually led to problems.
He then went on to talk about the struggle for power, control and greed that intensified during the 1990’s when the group re-formed after its breakup in the late 1970’s to record a new album: Hell Freezes Over.
The money that began to flow in after the group reunited became a major sticking point between members, particularly Felder who dug deeply into how the money was being distributed and discovered that Henley and Frey were being paid double the amount that Felder was getting. Something that Felder says was not part of the original agreement when the group was first formed.
Following Felder’s discovery of the new pay structure, he hired an attorney to look into the matter and was promptly fired from the band.
Felder also talked about his efforts to write the book in an unbiased way and provide a “nice clear snapshot of what was going on behind the scenes.” With what he describes as a life behind a “steel curtain,” Felder said that the group was always a very “tight-lipped organization,” who would rarely grant access to backstage areas and do very few interviews.
When asked to describe some of his former band mates with a quick line, Felder described Glenn Frey as “bipolar.” Of Don Henley, he refers to him as “a difficult guy to hang out with, which was also a comment he made regarding Frey. However, he offered high praise for the talent of both Frey and Henley.
Joe Walsh was apparently the member of the group that Felder was closest to, calling him and “wonderful guy” and how he “loves him to death.”
Regarding the Eagles most recent album, Felder says he is very happy for the group’s continued success, but also reveals his disappointment with the album, primarily due to the lack of guitar work by Joe Walsh, who he calls one of the “best rock and roll guitarists alive today.”
Don Felder also does not attempt to hide the facts of his own bad behavior during his years with the Eagles, and admits in the book to his own drug use and infidelity. Even the story of how his wife came to discover his infidelity, which, by itself, may be worth the price of the book for people who love the Eagles and celebrity gossip.
For Eagles fans, the book sounds like a “must read.” For me, Felder came across as a very personable and honest guy. Without knowing him personally, that’s not something I cannot guarantee by any means, but that is they way he struck me while watching him during the course of the interview.