Don Felder

Born: September 21, 1947
Gainesville, Florida, USA
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While growing up in Gainesville, Florida Don saw Elvis on TV and it changed his life. "I can remember seeing him (Elvis) on the Ed Sullivan Show Live and just going wild over the music I heard and how "COOL" he was. Shortly after that there came a flood of music and "Rock & Roll" seemed to be at every of my life. 1 Soon Felder would be learning the guitar. "I traded a handful of cherry bombs to the kid across the street for a horrible acoustic that was full of holes, I was around 11, and everybody on the block was playing the guitar. I conned another kid out of his guitar somehow. I had a lot of different guitars when I was a kid."

At 15 Felder joined a band called the Continentals, which also included Stephen Stills. "We played junior high schools, the usual stuff," says Felder "We were pretty successful, considering that we were all teenagers lying about our ages."2 After Stills left the group, he was replaced by Bernie Leadon, who specialized in bluegrass & country. "I wanted to learn his country stuff, and Bernie had never played electric guitar, So we traded lessons." The band would become the Maundy Quintet They would play on the same circuit with Mudcrutch. Mudcrunch would become Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. Interesting sides note, Felder taught guitar to Tom Petty and did arrangements for Mudcrutch.

"The Cyrkle came through town when they had their single, 'Red Rubber Ball' and we opened for them. Their manager took us to New York to play club gigs. Our drummer took the exam to leave ninth grade before the end of the school year and we went, but he got homesick pretty quick. We went back to Florida and broke up." Leadon moved to California and Don headed right back to New York with a new band called Flow. They would record one album, but soon after broke up. While in New York Felder learned various styles of playing to support himself. "Frat-rock, jazz, Top 40, country--and I picked up a little pedal steel, classical guitar and so on."

"Then I moved to Boston and got a job in a recording studio, learning how to make records and be an engineer. Bernie kept calling me and saying, 'Come to LA--there's tons of work out here!" But I had contact with West Coast acts that came through town, and I was writing, playing and learning. It was two solid years of woodshedding. I made practically no money, but I stayed busy all day and all night. I worked at the studio all day, then I'd play rhythm and blues from 9 to 2. I played and played and played."

The Eagles came to Boston on their first tour and Felder met the rest of the band and jammed with Leadon backstage. "I played slide guitar and Glenn Frey freaked out and invited me to LA to work on sessions." Felder made it to California in 1972. Soon he was hired as guitar player for David Blue's album. When the record was completed, Felder was asked to stay on and help Blue put together the tour. "We opened for Crosby and Nash for about nine months,"2 Graham Nash asked Don to play guitar on his solo tour. "I was getting ready to out with Graham when the Eagles called me to come in and add some slide guitar to 'Good Day in Hell.' I did the session and the next day they asked me to join the band." Felder didn't hesitate to join the band. "I felt as though I'd joined a band that was breaking up," he says. "Bernie was going to quit, Randy was quitting, and everybody was really pissed off. Those were hostile times," he says. "We argue about things sometimes even now, but there's a lot more respect for the individuals."2 (Remember that he made this statement in '80) Felder was hired to bring a more solid Rock & Roll sound to the band's already established country rock sound. "They wanted the record to be a little more rock and roll," says Felder.

Don began a friendship with Joe Walsh. Who was another client of producer Bill Szymczyk. "Joe came around to smoke joints and jam after sessions," says Don. " He told me, 'If Bernie ever quits, I'd join you guys in a second." The band started rehearsing with Walsh when Leadon didn't show up for a flight to a gig. Before he was asked to join, Walsh worked with Felder on Walsh's 'You Can't Argue With A Sick Mind' LP and did a TV show with him. "That was Joe's audition, in a way," says Felder. "It turned out that not only is he a great player, but he's a positive, humorous, great guy. People said it'd never work, that Walsh was too heavy metal, but he backed way off and let me write and arrange. It just worked out great--we gave each other plenty of room."

From that moment on the Eagles became a full - fledged Rock & Roll outfit. The fist album to be released with the new lineup with the legendary 'Hotel California'. The title track is one of the most beloved songs in R&R history. It was written by Don Henley, Glenn Frey & of course Don Felder. Felder wrote ALL the music and submitted copies to each member of the band. Though originally he wrote it in the wrong key:) "We actually recorded the basic three times. I wrote it at home on my Teac four-track, and I did all the guitar lines and the melody and presented it to the band. I was written in e-minor, but as Don and Glenn and I worked on the lyrics and the vocal arrangement, it turned out we needed it to be in B-minor. We re-cut the basic twice in B-minor, which is a terrible key to play guitar in. It took us ten or twelve days just to get the basic tracks together."

After the amazing success of Hotel California and the tour that was to follow. The band was presented with a huge problem. How do they follow up the success of Hotel California? For three years they recorded and recorded tracks for The Long Run (or the band called it 'The Long One') Stress among the members developed and by the end of the Long Run tour things weren't looking good for the band. Creative and personal differences led to the break up of the band. "We were big-too big. There were so many restrictions within the band as far as making records. There was such high pressure to do high-quality work. We had to come up with an album that measured up to incredibly high standards. That restricted us. We had to play it safe. We didn't want to make any mistakes. The stress in that situation was heavy. The pressure was often unbearable." Recalling the news of the bands demise Felder says, "We were shocked, emotionally upset. . . . I still remember how devastated we all were. . . . It was like getting hit in the face from out of nowhere. . . . The bottom dropped out of everything."

"Glenn told everyone in the band that he wasn't going to work with the Eagles anymore, that he was going solo. At that point we were in the middle of the Eagles' live album. He refused to participate as a group member. Everyone else wanted to finish the album, so the four of us went ahead and finished it.

Glenn was in L.A. and we were in Miami. We flew tapes back to L.A and Glenn went into the studio with his own engineer. He did his part and mailed the tape back. It was like phoning in his part. He was tired of the group. He didn't want any more to do with us. The rest of the band assumed that Frey's departure is only temporary. "We all were clinging to the hope of changing Glenn's mind," Felder said. "We figured he would do his solo record and get it out of his system and then reconsider reforming the band." Felder recalls that after Glenn refused to reconsider everyone got solo crazy. "Henley said if Frey is going to do an album, then me too. Then Joe (Walsh) shortly after that said, 'Me too.' Then I said, 'Me too.'

By 1982 Henley & Frey was releasing their first solo album and Felder was in his home 24 track recording studio working on his. Airborne was released in 1983 and unlike his former band mates Felder's LP was pure R&R. Nothing like what was featured on any Eagles LP. Even though he was proud of his first LP he was unsure if he was ready to make a solo album. "I really wasn't anxious to assume the responsibility for a whole record," he said. "I was afraid. I said to myself, 'I have to do this all alone now.' That was scary after having those guys to work with and rely on all those years. I wasn't sure I was ready. Irving (Azoff, the Eagles' manager) had to coax me into doing my own record. "I did the album because I missed recording and I had some songs I wanted to record. I didn't do it for the money. I don't need the money. Financially, I did very well in the Eagles." Airborne was mostly done is a former guesthouse turned studio at Felder's house. "Basically what I did was sit down by myself with the 24-track and a drum machine and make a demo of each song -- rough guitars, keyboards and vocals and a Linn Drum Machine," he explains. "Then I'd take the tape into town (to Rumbo, the San Fernando Valley studio owned by the Captain and Tennille) and mix it down to about three tracks on another 24-track machine."

Airborne for some unknown reason was to be Felder's only solo LP. He remained busy by playing on other people's albums and hosting a musical comedy show aimed at the kids who were glued to MTV called, FTV. Still don't know what the F stands for:) The show I believe lasted two seasons. I could be mistaken thought, but I believe it was two seasons. Stephen Bishop was in the first season and Felder appeared in more skits during this time. After Stephen Bishop left, Felder appeared less often (sometimes only to do the intro & the closing) He didn't even appear at the FTV awards show. This leads me to believe it was a two-season show. I believe from it aired from 1985-1986. I began watching it in winter of '85 but, Bishop was in only in the first few shows I saw (saw more shows with him in reruns) So imagine I started watching about the time he was leaving. Again I could be mistaken about the dates.

In 1993 Don Henley organized a LP featuring today's top country singers singing classic Eagles songs to benefit his organization The Walden Woods Project. One track, recorded by Travis Tritt was 'Take It Easy'. And by some miracle all the members of the Eagles last line up Don Henley, Glenn Frey , Don Felder, Timothy B. Schmit & Joe Walsh were all assembled for the video. Something happened and the magic was back. In 1994 the Eagles recorded a LP of live material from a special concert for MTV and added 4 new Tracks. The result was the hit album Hell Freezes Over. The tour that followed was the biggest tour of 1994. Things began to work out for a possible permanent regrouping. In 1999 the Eagles did a couple warm up shows in Las Vegas and then on December 31, 1999 played a Millennium show in Los Angeles. Fans were thrilled at the prospect of having the band together again.

But on Feburary 6th of this year, Don was fired from the Eagles. The band is moving on without him and is touring this summer in Europe. Many fans are disappointed that Felder after giving so much to the success of the band would be fired and believe that if he didn't join they would have never received the boost from country rock/bluegrass band to the R&R legends that they became. The final chapter of this bio is yet to be written. Only time will tell how it will end.

This bio was provided by Cathy, the webmaster at FelderMusic.com



Instruments Played / Skills:
Backup Vocals Guitar Songwriter Vocals

Genres:
Hard Rock Country-Rock Stadium Rock Guitar Masters

Bands That Don Felder Has Played For:
Eagles, The

Don Felder Has Worked With:
Joe Walsh Don Henley Timothy B. Schmidt

Artists That Were Influenced By Don Felder:
Michael Britt
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