Don Felder

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Don Felder
Felder performing at Auto Club Speedway in 2023
Felder performing at Auto Club Speedway in 2023
Background information
Birth nameDonald William Felder
Born (1947-09-21) September 21, 1947 (age 76)
Gainesville, Florida, U.S.
  • Guitar
  • vocals
Years active1966–present

Donald William Felder (born September 21, 1947) is an American musician who was the lead guitarist of the rock band Eagles from 1974 to 2001. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 with the Eagles. Felder was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame and Museum in 2016.

Felder was fired from the Eagles in 2001, after which he filed various lawsuits alleging wrongful termination, breach of implied-in-fact contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. He published an autobiography detailing his tenure with Eagles, Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974–2001), in 2008.

Early life[edit]

Don Felder was born in Gainesville, Florida, on September 21, 1947. He was raised in a Southern Baptist family.[1]

Felder was first attracted to music after watching Elvis Presley live on The Ed Sullivan Show. He acquired his first guitar when he was about ten years old, which he has stated he exchanged with a friend at the five-and-dime for a handful of cherry bombs.[2] A self-taught musician, he was heavily influenced by rock and roll. At the age of 13 he started his first band, the Continentals, which also included Stephen Stills and Isaac Guillory.

Felder's family could not afford music lessons, so he taught himself to play guitar by ear, by listening to tape recordings that he played back at half speed. He worked at a music school started by a Berklee graduate, who taught music theory and some notation to Felder during his employment there.[3][4]


Early bands[edit]

Around that time, he met Bernie Leadon, who later became one of the founding members of the Eagles. Leadon replaced Stephen Stills in the Continentals, which eventually changed its name to the Maundy Quintet. Felder and Leadon both attended Gainesville High School. Felder gave guitar lessons at a local music shop for about 18 months, at which time Felder also learned how to play slide guitar from Duane Allman.[5] Although Felder claimed that he taught a young Tom Petty how to play the guitar,[6][7] Petty denied that he was ever taught the guitar by Felder, clarifying that Felder instead taught him how to play piano.[8][9]

The Maundy Quintet recorded and released a 45 rpm single on the Tampa-based Paris Tower label in 1967, which received airplay in north-central Florida.[citation needed]

After the Maundy Quintet broke up, Felder went to Manhattan, New York City, with a band called Flow, which released a self-titled improvisational rock fusion album in 1970.[1] The 1970 Flow album has the distinction of being among the first issued on the newly independent CTI Records label, founded by noted jazz producer Creed Taylor.[10] While in New York, Felder improved his mastery of improvisation on the guitar and learned various styles. After Flow broke up, Felder moved to Boston where he got a job in a recording studio.[1]

In 1973, Felder moved to Los Angeles where he was hired as guitar player for a tour by David Blue, replacing David Lindley who was touring with Crosby & Nash. He helped Blue put together a tour, during which they opened at a few Crosby and Nash shows in November 1973 and for Neil Young at the opening of the Roxy Theatre. Once again, Felder replaced Lindley, this time in Crosby & Nash's band when Lindley fell ill. He would also jam from time to time with the Eagles in their rehearsal space.[1]

In 1974, he featured on the Michael Dinner album The Great Pretender.[11]


In early January 1974, Felder was called by the Eagles to add slide guitar to their song "Good Day in Hell" and some guitar solos to "Already Gone".[1] Shortly afterwards, he was invited to join the band. Concurrently, the band began distancing themselves from their initial country rock style and moving more in the direction of full-fledged hard rock music. On the band's fourth album, One of These Nights, Felder sang lead vocal on the song "Visions" (the only song of which he was lead vocalist), which he co-wrote with Don Henley, and arranged the title track's distinctive guitar solo and bass line.[1]

After founding member Bernie Leadon departed in 1975 following the tour to support the album, Joe Walsh joined the band. Felder had previously jammed with Walsh while Leadon was still a member of the Eagles, and together as dual guitar leads, they would eventually become one of rock music's most memorable onstage partnerships. Felder also doubled on banjo, mandolin and pedal steel guitar on future tours, all of which were previously handled by Leadon.[12]

Don Felder, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The first album that the Eagles released after the lineup change was Hotel California, which became a major international bestseller. Felder submitted "16 or 17 tracks" that resulted in the songs "Victim of Love" and the album's title track, "Hotel California".[1][13][14][15] For the title track, after the arrangement and instrumentation had been refined, several complete takes were recorded. The best parts were then spliced together, in all 33 edits on the two‑inch master, to create the final version.[16] In contrast, "Victim of Love" was recorded in a live session in studio apart from the lead vocal and the harmony on the choruses which were added later. Don Felder initially sang the lead vocals in the many early takes of "Victim of Love", but the band felt that his efforts were not up to the required standard, and Henley then took over as lead vocalist.[17] After the release of Hotel California and the tour that followed, the Eagles found themselves under tremendous pressure to repeat this success and tensions were made worse by alcohol, cocaine and other drugs. Bassist Randy Meisner left the band after the tour due to exhaustion and he was replaced by former Poco bassist Timothy B. Schmit, who had also replaced him in that band. Nevertheless, the fighting did not end with the addition of the mild-mannered Schmit, but it rather intensified during the recording of The Long Run, which took 18 months to complete, and Felder and Glenn Frey were especially hostile to one another, despite respecting each other's musical abilities.[18][19]

According to Henley, Felder attempted to gain more control by co-opting Walsh so frequently that it was the pair up against himself and Frey when the band was dividing into factions and even Henley and Frey began to have their differences, thus causing the Eagles to disband.[20]

At a concert in Long Beach, California, for Senator Alan Cranston on July 31, 1980, known as the "Long Night at Wrong Beach", things hit a breaking point in the band when the animosity between Felder and Frey boiled over before the show began after Felder said, "You're welcome – I guess" to Cranston and his wife, thus offending Frey.[21] He angrily confronted Felder and the pair began to threaten beatings throughout the show.[22] Felder recalls Frey telling him during "Best of My Love", "I'm gonna kick your ass when we get off the stage." After the concert, Felder smashed, according to Frey, Felder's "cheapest guitar". The Eagles disbanded shortly thereafter.[23][24][23][25]

Post-1970s career[edit]

Following the 1980 disbandment of the Eagles, Felder focused more on his family, but also embarked on a solo career, concentrating on film composition and session work. He worked on the Bee Gees' 1981 album Living Eyes as a session guitarist. Through his association with Bee Gees' producer Albhy Galuten, Felder made session appearances on albums by artists as diverse as Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, and Andy Gibb. During this time, he also contributed guitar work to Stevie Nicks' first two solo albums, Bella Donna and The Wild Heart.

In 1983, Felder released his first solo album entitled Airborne. The album's single "Never Surrender", co-written with Kenny Loggins, was a minor hit, having also appeared on the soundtrack to the popular motion picture teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

In 1985, Henley offered Felder $5,000 a week (US $14,165 in 2023 dollars[26]) to go on tour with him, but Felder turned it down, citing both dissatisfaction with the pay and a desire to not go on tour.[27]

Among his musical film credits in the 1980s are two songs on the soundtrack to the 1981 animated cult film Heavy Metal entitled "Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)" (with former bandmates Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit contributing backing vocals) and "All of You" – with Jefferson Starship's Mickey Thomas as backing vocalist, as well as the title track "Wild Life" from the 1985 motion picture adaptation of Neil Simon's The Slugger's Wife. He also penned the song "She's Got A Part of Me" from the soundtrack to the 1985 romantic comedy Secret Admirer.

Felder's television credits include FTV, a musical comedy show that parodied MTV and music videos[28] which he hosted from 1985 to 1986,[29] and Galaxy High, the 1986 CBS cartoon series for which he scored and performed all of the music, including the series' catchy theme song.

Eagles Band reformation[edit]

Sparked by the success of the tribute album Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles, the band (including Felder) regrouped 14 years later for a concert aired on MTV, which resulted in a new album Hell Freezes Over in 1994. For the live MTV performance, the band's signature song "Hotel California" was rearranged into an acoustic version and Felder kicked off the set by performing it with a new, flamenco-style intro.

Felder performed (with all current and former band members) the hits "Take It Easy" and "Hotel California" at the band's 1998 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Manhattan, New York City. He continued as a member of the Eagles until 2001.

Band termination and lawsuit against the Eagles[edit]

On February 6, 2001, Felder was fired from the Eagles. He responded by filing two lawsuits alleging wrongful termination, breach of implied-in-fact contract, and breach of fiduciary duty, reportedly seeking $50 million in damages.[30][31] Felder alleged that from the 1994 Hell Freezes Over tour onward, Henley and Frey had "insisted that they each receive a higher percentage of the band's profits", whereas the money had previously been split in five equal portions. Felder also accused them of coercing him into signing an agreement under which Henley and Frey would receive three times more of the Selected Works: 1972–1999 proceeds than would Felder. This box set, released in November 2000, has sold approximately 267,000 copies and earned over $16 million. Henley and Frey then countersued Felder for breach of contract, alleging that Felder had written and attempted to sell the rights to a "tell-all" book.

On January 23, 2002, the Los Angeles County Court consolidated the two complaints and on May 8, 2007, the case was settled out of court for an undisclosed amount.[32] Despite the settlement, Felder has since filed subsequent lawsuits against the Eagles.[33]

Heaven and Hell: My Life in The Eagles (1974–2001) was published in the United Kingdom on November 1, 2007. The American edition was published by John Wiley & Sons on April 28, 2008, with Felder embarking on a publicity campaign.


Nearly three decades after the release of Airborne, his second solo album Road to Forever was released on October 9, 2012, with "Fall from the Grace of Love" as the lead single, a song that featured the harmony vocals of Crosby, Stills & Nash.

When the Eagles did their History of the Eagles Tour, 2013–2015, to coincide with their two-part documentary, it was criticized by Felder for being incomplete.[34] He did not participate in the associated tour.[34] Since 2005, Felder has been touring with his own band, the Don Felder Band. In 2014, they toured with rock bands Styx and Foreigner. In 2017, Felder toured the US with Styx and REO Speedwagon.

In 2019, Felder announced that he would release his third studio album, American Rock 'n' Roll, on April 5 on CD and vinyl. The album features musicians such as Sammy Hagar, Slash (who lives near Felder),[35] Richie Sambora, Orianthi, Peter Frampton, Joe Satriani, Mick Fleetwood, Chad Smith, Bob Weir, David Paich, Steve Porcaro, Alex Lifeson and Jim Keltner, among others. Felder will go on a worldwide tour to promote the new album.[36] The title track references artists from Jimi Hendrix and Santana to The Doobie Brothers, U2 Bruce Springsteen, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Van Halen, Guns N' Roses and more.[35]

Personal life[edit]

In a 2008 interview with Howard Stern, Felder affirmed that he remains friends with fellow former Eagles members Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner.[37] When asked if he still had any contact with Frey or Henley, Felder stated that the only replies he gets are from their respective attorneys.

In 2016, the day after Frey's death, Felder told the Associated Press that he felt an "unbelievable sorrow" when he learned about Frey's death. "I had always hoped somewhere along the line, he and I would have dinner together, talking about old times and letting it go with a handshake and a hug."[38]



Felder is known for his performances using Gibson Les Paul and Gibson EDS-1275 (double-neck 6 and 12 string) electric guitars. This prompted Gibson to name two re-issues after him in 2010, the "Don Felder Hotel California 1959 Les Paul" and the "Don Felder Hotel California EDS-1275". Felder himself is an avid guitar collector, having amassed close to 300 models since childhood.

Felder uses Fender Deluxe Reverb and Tweed Deluxe amplifiers[39] modified by Dumble Amplifiers. When performing Hotel California, the 12-string side of the 1275 plays through a Leslie speaker.[39]

Felder's pedalboard consists of a Voodoo Labs Pedal Power, a Fulltone OCD overdrive, two Boss Digital Delay DD-3 delays, a Boss Chorus Ensemble chorus, an MXR Talk box, and a Peterson Stomp Classic tuner.[39]

Other activities[edit]


Felder's autobiography Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974–2001) was published in early 2008.[1] The book allowed Felder to tell his life story, describe his relationships with Glenn Frey and Don Henley, and to relate his own version of his termination from the band in 2001. In an interview done on April 27, 2008 with Jim Farber of the New York Daily News, Felder is quoted as saying that he "wasn't out to hang people's heads for the whole community to see, that wasn't the point of the book. The point was to tell my story."[40]



Studio albums[edit]

Soundtrack albums[edit]

With Eagles[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

Songs co-written by Felder[edit]

Songs featuring Felder on lead vocal[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Sharp, Ken (2008). "The Eagles Heaven and Hell: The Inside story of the Hotel California Years by Don Felder". Record Collector Magazine. 348: 33–38. Archived from the original on November 21, 2016. Retrieved November 20, 2016.
  2. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, pp. 18–19.
  3. ^ Villanueva, Jim (April 4, 2016). "FANTASY LEAGUE: DON FELDER DRAFTED TO ROCK 'N' ROLL FANTASY CAMP TEAM". Archived from the original on November 30, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  4. ^ Karras, Steve (April 12, 2013). "Lone Eagle Don Felder Speaks". Archived from the original on December 1, 2018. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  5. ^ Chelstowski, Ray. "3 things former Eagles guitarist Don Felder thinks you should know". Goldmine Magazine: Record Collector & Music Memorabilia. Goldmine. Retrieved October 2, 2023. " I had seen Duane play slide all summer long that year up and down Daytona Beach. So one night when we got off work at one o'clock, we went to have breakfast with Gregg and Duane. We later ended up at their mother's house with Duane on the floor playing slide guitar. I said, "You gotta show me how to do that!" So he showed me the tuning, showed me how to pull down from the 5th to the 4, to bend the 3rd really slowly up to a note, drag down to the seventh just kinda the basic way that slide works."
  6. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, pp. 28.
  7. ^ "Gibson Guitars interview with Don Felder". June 24, 2008. Archived from the original on August 31, 2011. Retrieved November 4, 2011.
  8. ^ Pedersen, Erik (April 17, 2011). "Tom Petty Discusses Influences, Career During SiriusXM Q&A Session". Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 13, 2014. Retrieved May 14, 2014.
  9. ^ "Don Felder is thought to have taught Tom Petty how to play the guitar, but Tom said, "Don Felder did not teach me to play the guitar… | Guitar, Eagles band, Eagles". Archived from the original on October 25, 2021. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  10. ^ "Flow (17) - Flow". Discogs. November 13, 1970. Archived from the original on November 29, 2016. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  11. ^ "Michael Dinner - The Great Pretender". Discogs. November 13, 1974. Archived from the original on November 29, 2016. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  12. ^ Deriso, Nick (November 16, 2012). "Don Felder on the Eagles' "Hotel California", "Heavy Metal", other solo songs". Archived from the original on August 6, 2016. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  13. ^ "'Who can sing any song better than Don Henley?': Inside the convoluted vocal track for the Eagles' 'Victim of Love' - Something Else!". October 28, 2013. Archived from the original on August 1, 2017. Retrieved July 11, 2017.
  14. ^ "Henley talks egos, jealousy and bust-ups". June 4, 2014. Archived from the original on May 30, 2019. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  15. ^ "Music's 30 Fiercest Feuds and Beefs". Rolling Stone. September 15, 2017. Archived from the original on November 24, 2017. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  16. ^ Richard Buskin (September 2010). "The Eagles 'Hotel California' Classic Tracks". Sound on Sound. Archived from the original on April 3, 2016. Retrieved April 1, 2016.
  17. ^ Runtagh, Jordan (December 8, 2016). "The Eagles' 'Hotel California': 10 Things You Didn't Know". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved December 19, 2017.
  18. ^ "Don Felder Biography". Archived from the original on March 5, 2018. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  19. ^ "Glenn Frey Biography". Archived from the original on February 22, 2018. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  20. ^ "History of the Eagles Part One (2013) Movie Script - SS". Springfield! Springfield!. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
  21. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 209-210.
  22. ^ Gumbel, Andrew (February 3, 2007). "Eagles reform: checking back into the Hotel California". The Independent. Archived from the original on April 10, 2011. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  23. ^ a b "How The Eagles took it to the limits". Archived from the original on July 18, 2008. Retrieved May 20, 2008.. The Times (London). October 12, 2007.
  24. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 210.
  25. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 209.
  26. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.
  27. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 223.
  28. ^ FTV (TV Series 1985– ) at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  29. ^ Liz Simons (August 29, 2012). "Does ANYONE Remember FTV Besides ME???". The DVR Files. Archived from the original on September 19, 2020. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  30. ^ Leeds, Jeff (December 8, 2002). "Reborn Eagles Lose Peaceful, Easy Feeling". Los Angeles Times. p. C-1. Archived from the original on July 25, 2012. Retrieved July 6, 2017.
  31. ^ Atwood, Brett (February 12, 2001). "Eagles Sued by Don Felder Over Dismissal". Yahoo! Music. Archived from the original on June 30, 2007.
  32. ^ Lester, Paul (October 1, 2015). "Don Henley: 'There's no partying, no alcohol, it's like a morgue backstage'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on November 21, 2016. Retrieved November 21, 2016.
  33. ^ Greene, Andy (July 5, 2013). "Eagles Tour Will Feature Founding Guitarist Bernie Leadon". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on July 7, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  34. ^ a b Graff, Gary (February 21, 2013). "Don Felder: 'History of the Eagles' Isn't the Whole Story". Billboard. Archived from the original on February 18, 2014. Retrieved December 26, 2013.
  35. ^ a b "Hear Don Felder Team Up with Slash for American Rock 'n' Roll". January 28, 2019. Archived from the original on November 6, 2021. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  36. ^ "Don Felder to Release New Album: American Rock 'N' Roll Out April 5". Don Felder. January 25, 2019. Archived from the original on April 19, 2019. Retrieved March 9, 2019.
  37. ^ Felder & Holden 2008, p. 328.
  38. ^ Italie, Hillel (January 19, 2016). "Former Eagle Don Felder Mourns Death of Glenn Frey". The Seattle Times. Archived from the original on February 8, 2020. Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  39. ^ a b c Premier Guitar (June 7, 2016), Rig Rundown - Don Felder, archived from the original on September 3, 2019, retrieved October 22, 2018
  40. ^ Farber, Jim. "The Eagle Has Landed, Loudly. Don Felder Smiles about Supergroup Days, but He Has a Dark Story". Editorial. New York Daily News [New York City] April 27, 2008, 11th ed.: Web. February 22, 2015.
  41. ^ Various - Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - The Slugger's Wife, November 13, 1985, retrieved April 24, 2023
  42. ^ Various - Secret Admirer - Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack, November 13, 1985, retrieved April 24, 2023

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]