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Don Felder

Don Felder in 2009
Background information
Birth name Donald William Felder
Born September 21, 1947 (1947-09-21) (age 62)
Gainesville, Florida, U.S.
Genres Rock
Occupations Musician
Instruments Guitar, Pedal Steel Guitar, Vocals, Keyboards, Mandolin, Organ
Years active 1974–present
Associated acts Eagles
Notable instruments
Gibson EDS-1275

Gibson Les Paul

Donald William "Don" Felder (born September 21, 1947; Gainesville, Florida) is an American musician and songwriter, best known for his work as lead guitarist for the Eagles from 1974 until 2001.


Early life and influences

Don Felder was first attracted to music after watching Elvis Presley live on the Ed Sullivan show. He got his first guitar when he was around 10, which he has stated he exchanged with a friend for a handful of cherry bombs. He was heavily influenced by rock and roll and when he was 15, started his first band, The Continentals, which also had Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills & Nash fame. Around this time he also met Bernie Leadon, later one of the founding members of the Eagles. He and Bernie both attended the same high school, Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Florida. Bernie replaced Stills and the band became the Maundy Quintet. An interesting note: in the 1966 Gainesville High School Yearbook the Maundy Quintet is pictured next to another Gainesville High student and his band that was destined for fame; Tom Petty and his early band the Epics. Felder gave Tom Petty guitar lessons for a year and a half at a local music shop.

After the band broke up, Felder went to New York with a band called Flow, which released only a single jazz album. While in New York, Felder improved his mastery of the guitar and learned various styles.

After Flow broke up, Felder moved to Boston, where he got a job in a recording studio. There, through his friendship with Leadon, he met the rest of the Eagles in 1971, while they were on their first tour. In 1972, Felder moved to California where he was hired as guitar player for a Tour by David Blue. He helped Blue put together a tour, during which they opened at a few Crosby and Nash shows in November 1973 - Felder replaced David Lindley (who had fallen ill) in the Crosby Nash band. He would also jam from time to time with the Eagles in their rehearsal space.


In 1974, Felder was called by the Eagles to add slide guitar to their song "Good Day in Hell". The following day he was invited to join the band. The band started moving away from their earlier country rock style, towards rock. On the band's fourth album, One of These Nights, Felder sang lead vocal on the song "Visions", which he co-wrote with Don Henley, and it was the only Eagles song that Felder ever sang lead vocal on. Joe Walsh eventually joined the band the next year (1976), after Bernie Leadon quit.

The first album to be released by the Eagles after their makeover was Hotel California, which became a major international bestseller. Felder wrote the music for the album's title track, "Hotel California", and had originally introduced it, as an instrumental demo, to Henley and Frey who initially named it "Mexican Bolero"[1], though it would become the band's most successful recording. After the release of Hotel California and the tour that followed, the Eagles found themselves under tremendous pressure to repeat this success. Their next album, 1979's The Long Run, took almost three years to complete, after which the band broke up in 1980.

Post-1970s career

Following the break up of the Eagles, Felder focused more on his family but also embarked on a solo career. He worked on The Bee Gees' 1981 album Living Eyes as a session guitarist. In 1983, he released a rock and roll album titled Airborne which to date remains his only solo LP, although he contributed the songs "Heavy Metal (Takin' a Ride)" (with former band-mates Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit contributing backing vocals) and "All of You" to the soundtrack of the 1981 film Heavy Metal, as well as the title track from the movie The Wild Life. In 1985–86 he hosted a musical comedy show entitled FTV. In 1986 he wrote and performed all the music and the theme song to the animated series Galaxy High.

In 1994, the Eagles (including Felder) regrouped for a concert aired on MTV, which resulted in the new album Hell Freezes Over. Felder continued as a member of the Eagles through the band's 1994–2000 New Year's concerts.

Felder performed with the Eagles (with all current and former Eagles members) in 1998 in New York City for the band's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame . The seven musicians performed together on "Take It Easy," and "Hotel California".

In 1999, Felder divorced his wife of 29 years, Susan Felder. The couple met when he was a struggling musician in Gainesville, Florida, and had four children together. He was engaged to real estate broker Kathrin Nicholson in 2007. He claims that Nicholson was the driving force in helping him get over his split from the Eagles and form a new band.

Felder penned the tell-all book Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974 - 2001) in 2006. Released in early 2008 and quickly becoming a New York Times bestseller, the book allowed Felder to tell his life story, describe his often tumultous relationships with Glenn Frey and Don Henley, and relate his own version of his termination from the band in 2001.

In a 2008 interview promoting his new book, Felder indicated that he remains friends with fellow former Eagles Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. However, when asked if he still has contact with current Eagles members Don Henley and Glenn Frey, Felder stated that the only replies he gets are from their respective attorneys.

Termination and lawsuit

On February 6, 2001, Don Felder was fired from the Eagles. Felder responded by filing two lawsuits against "Eagles, Ltd., a California corporation; Don Henley, an individual; Glenn Frey, an individual; and Does 1-50", alleging wrongful termination, breach of implied-in-fact contract, and breach of fiduciary duty, reportedly seeking $50 million in damages.[2][3]

In his latter complaint, 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 (reduced to three after the departure of Leadon and Meisner). 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 at about $60 apiece.

Henley and Frey then counter-sued Felder for breach of contract, alleging that Felder had written and attempted to sell the rights to a "tell-all" book. The book, Heaven and Hell[1], was published in the United Kingdom on November 1, 2007.[4] The American edition of Heaven and Hell was released for publication by John Wiley & Sons on April 28, 2008,[5] with Felder embarking on a full publicity campaign surrounding its release.

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.


Eagles albums
Solo albums
Soundtrack contributions

Eagles Songs


Eagles songs co-written by Don Felder

Eagles song featuring Don Felder on lead vocal



Heaven and Hell, by Don Felder.

External links


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