Although Don Felder is known by many as a guitarist for The Eagles, there is so much more to Don than that. Don has worked with many of the top artists in music eg. Bob Segar, Andy Gibb, and the iconic Diana Ross, bringing himself to their music. Today Don is working with Styx and Foreigner.
From jump street I threw a sideways question at Don to make him think. Looking back to 1975; you, your music, what did you see as your future? Don answered, "Wow." He paused a second before he was able to gather his thoughts and explain to me who and where he was and wanted to be. "In 1975 I was very fortunate to be make a living out of what I love to do, play music!" Don went on to explain, "Since the age of 10 until today, I have an obsessive passion towards music. I love music more than anything in this world. I grew up impoverished and at one point I was starving on the streets of New York. From that point on I have taken a different approach and to do what I love in life. Passionate people succeed." I could not agree more with that statement. Don went from living on the streets to being on top of the world.
Being top is no easy feat, but with Don being best known as a guitarist for The Eagles, he has also worked with many more artists. Don was very upbeat when he answered, "When I approach an artist, they know what I'm bringing to the table. I weave my music into their record or song. It is a challenge to walk into a studio and be a chameleon, but unique. I always bring something to the party!" He went on to explain, "I have to create something that fits appropriately. I love a challenge."
Although challenges are not always easy, Don stepped up to the plate when his strong and very well known guitar licks started what is the all time number one hit for The Eagles "Hotel California". Knowing where he was in his life to write such a deep and iconic song was only right to ask of him. Don was so eager to let his fans to know, "I was on the road with The Eagles, my wife had just had our first child, she was six months old and my wife had taken her outside to get some sunshine, my wife looked down and saw a baby rattlesnake coiled up on the ground next to her. My wife snatched our daughter up and called me to tell me we were moving. It wasn't until I landed at LAX that I was told where we were now living. She had rented us a beach house in Malibu. I was playing the guitar and watching the California sunset. I played the same thing over and over about six times and decided that I needed to write it down. I went into my daughter's room, I had a little studio in the back of her room. It just rolled out of me. I sketched out sixteen or seventeen songs on a cassette and I gave copies to Don, Glen, and Joe. Don and Glen loved Hotel California! Don was very insistent that Hotel California be the single. We did not let the label hear anything until we had the Playback Party. Although AM Radio only allowed songs that were no longer than three and one half minutes at that time, they still played the six minute and thirty second song!" Knowing that they defied and conquered says something about who they are as musicians.
Who Don is as an individual is not so surprising. Don does a lot of charity work. "I am grateful that I was given a gift. My ability to help is the most important thing. There are many talented people that come to hear me play, but it is all about the charity work for me." Don has worked with many charities, but two stand out the most to him, Autism Speaks and the Katrina Victims.
After a long standing with Gibson, Don was approached by them about reproducing his Hotel California guitar. You could hear the pride in Don's voice when he relayed this monumental even in his career. "Henry owns the custom shop, he told me that Gibson wanted to do a limited edition run of my Hotel California guitar and when I asked which one, he kind of stuttered. They had no idea that I used a 1959 Les Paul in the studio, they only knew about the white double-necked guitar of mine in the Rock 'N Roll Hall Of Fame. I shipped them my 59 Les Paul and they got the one from the Rock 'N Roll Hall Of Fame and they took pictures and lasers to make exact replicas of my guitars, cigarette burns and all. Every guitar was sold within a matter of a few months." I asked if there would be another run and sadly if you do not have one, you are out of luck, it was a one time opportunity.
Don has been friends with Tommy Shaw for approximately ten years now, making his touring withStyx and Foreigner this summer even better. "Tommy co-wrote some of the songs on Road To Forever cd." Those in attendance at these concerts are in for a real treat, "There is four hours of hit after hit after hit. We will be playing Styx, Foreigner, Eagles and my own music. There is no drama and no tension. I am personally excited about this while experience. We have a great time eating and traveling. Good behavior is worth their weight in gold!"
Road To Forever is #1 on Classic Rock Radio.
Heaven And Hell My Life As An Eagle #1 Best Seller. This was part of a self-healing process of the damage Don had done to himself and how he got "personally centered". If you do not own it, I would personally recommend it, I have a copy myself.
Don brought sides of him to the table that most people may not be aware of, but he also made sure that, "People in the Media are our partners in our career. They put a a name and a face with a piece." As a well-rounded individual and artist, Don Felder has learned that there was a cost for his fame, he lost out on his children growing up and his marriage was suffered and failed. Don has four adult children with children of their own and he also has a five year old. I had to ask him, what were you fucking thinking? Don laughed and let me know, "I missed out on my older children growing up and I am enjoying every minute of this!" Fortune and fame has not detoured him from making his second marriage and the rest of his life enjoyable.