by Ross CAT

by Ross CAT

Concert Preview:
FELDER: (Former EAGLES lead guitarist)
An Evening at the
Hotel California Fallsview Casino
February 20th and 21st 9PM

     SOARING SOLO….. This weekend the Falls View Casino ( will be transformed into the Hotel California as they welcome longtime EAGLES guitar virtuoso DON FELDER (
   The 1998 Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductee will surely
Take it to the Limitnot once but twice with shows on Friday and Saturday beginning at 9pm inside the magnificent Avalon Theatre.
as he was affectionately nicknamed by band mate GLENN FREY joined the EAGLES in 1974 during the recording of On the Border”.
 After contributing his signature slide guitar to Good Day in Helland a searing solo toAlready Gone, it would take but a day for FELDER to become theNew Kid in Townchecking in with the band permanently.
From that point on it was
Life in the Fast Lanefor the boy from Central Florida as he jumped in with his steel pedal to the metal bringing a harder edge to the EAGLES Soft Rock sound.
would become part of the legend that is the EAGLES. From the tumultuous studio sessions that led to countless #1 hits to the excessive rigors of the road as the EAGLES heavenly harmonies echoed throughout stadiums and arenas across the globe until it was time for the fabled back stage 3rd encore.
     That would all come to a sad and bitter end in 2001 as
FELDER was unceremoniously ousted from the band.
     In 2008
FELDER would release the long awaited and controversial (HEAVEN & HELL “My Life in the EAGLES(1974-2001), which reached #1 status on the NY Times Best Sellers List.
     The riveting tale takes you behind the scenes and backstage with one of America’s most beloved Rock Bands as
FELDER peels away the impenetrable shell that has concealed the inner sanctum of the EAGLES for decades.
Rock Rapport had the good fortune to talk with DON FELDER about his illustrious career and his book which is a must read and not just for EAGLES fans.
     Ross CAT
Thanks DON for your time.
- It’s my pleasure, we are really looking forward to our weekend at the Falls View Casino early in the New Year.
     Ross CAT
Being a Sirius Satellite subscriber and avid HOWARD STERN listener I was first compelled to read your book after hearing your interview with the “King of all media” this past summer.
Obviously the conversation veered toward the excess lifestyle you led during your time with the
EAGLESAside from the sex, drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll banter the highlight of the show was a stirring acoustic rendition of Hotel California a song which you created the music for. What was it like to finally step up and sing the lead vocals on one of music’s most prolific songs?
- I used to listen to HOWARD more frequently on terrestrial radio until I purchased my new car last year which had Sirius in it so I began to listen again.
     I have to say I’ve done thousands of interviews over my career, never have I been more petrified then when I was walking into the STERN show.  You just never know what you’re going to get with HOWARD but to my surprise he treated me very kindly and with a great deal of respect, which is far from the norm for HOWARD.
     The entire STERN gang was delightful especially ARTIE LANGE he was just a blast singing along to the chorus of “
Hotel California”.  That type of environment provided me with such a comfort zone that the song just flowed out of me in every aspect.

      Ross CAT
That particular interview certainly enlightened numerous EAGLES fans as to your contributions to the band over your twenty-seven year career; not as just the lead guitarist and song writer but the architect of the amazing music to the classic anthem Hotel California”.
- That really is so true and not just in my case, obviously DON HENLEY and GLENN FREY are the names most associated with the band.
      Unfortunately what all to often gets overlooked is that throughout the bands history there has been quite a turnover of exceptionally talented song writers and musicians like
BERNIE LEADON, RANDY MEISNER, J.D. SOUTHER and myself who have brought a great deal to the party called the EAGLES; from writing, vocals, arrangements and the overall complex construction of the enduring EAGLES catalog.

     Ross CAT
Lets dive into your bookHEAVEN & HELL, My life in the EAGLES (1974-2001), which achieved a #1 status on the New York Times Best Seller list.
     While highly successful the book was Hell to release being held up in litigation for a period of time as well as taking it’s fair share of criticism.
     As a journalist and lifelong
EAGLE fan after reading the book, it was my feeling that by putting yourself and your personal demons out there and taking responsibility and accountability for your actions both good and bad gave you the right to tell this story.
     What was your intent when writing the book and exposing the
EAGLES nest, one of the most guarded sanctuaries in music history?
FELDER- I really didn’t start out writing a book, within a twelve month period my entire family and career were stripped away from me.  I had gone through an earth shaking and heart breaking separation which ultimately culminated in a divorce from the mother of my children. At the same time I ended up leaving the EAGLES under some very difficult circumstances to say the least.
     I found myself questioning how I had gotten to this point in my life so I started meditating to try and center myself.  I would come out of these sessions with a renewed sense of clarity and focus which opened me up to visions and recollections from my childhood right on through to all the lifetime of experiences I’ve had both positive and negative.  At that point I would carry a pad and pencil around with me and start jotting down my thoughts.
     As these thoughts started to flow I could see the areas of my life which had really led me on this course from the little dirt road in the Palmetto fields of North Central Florida, growing up in pretty desolate  conditions as a child to ending up being a part of one of the biggest Rock bands in American Music history.
     Before I knew it I had hundreds of pages, not even thinking about a book until my fiancé started to read them when she said “this would make an amazing book”.  At that point she connected me with a publisher. Before I knew it the concept of making these random thoughts into a book was in motion.
     Honestly the intent was never to sit down and write a tell all book as an attack against the band. Besides who would have ever thought that a poor High School English student would go on to become a New York Times Best selling author, certainly not me.
     It was much more self serving to me as an individual not as a member of the
EAGLES.  The experience was both therapeutic and cathartic for me; it allowed me to purge many of the unresolved feelings I had about people from my past which ranged from my father and brother right on through to my relationships with my band mates from my time in the EAGLES.
     It’s clear from the very beginning of the book which is dedicated to “my Mother and Father, and to all those who dream of making it in the music business”, that the crux of the story is trying to connect with anyone whose ever had a dream or a goal in life.  I wanted to share the trials and tribulations of my life, taking people back with me to revisit  the hard work, dedication and personal sacrifices made by both myself and my loved ones necessary to fulfill those dreams.

     Ross CAT
While your band mates may have been collateral damage in Heaven & Hell you didn’t exclude your family especially your wife or your children.  As a matter of fact on numerous occasions throughout the book you are more then complimentary about everyone in the band for their talents and accomplishments particularly HENLEY and FREY.
FELDER- I could have never written this book without paying due respect earned by everyone that was a part of my life or the EAGLES.
     Each one of us toiled in the fields so to speak, we tilled and hoed and planted the seeds to the amazing body of music we created together.
     Most times it was like an all for one, one for all mentality.  I have nothing but respect for the commitment and musicianship that each band member exemplified in the
EAGLES.  It was an absolute magical combination musically when we were all working together

     Ross CAT
What is your response to critics that say that this book was written by a scorned man who was no longer with one of the world’s most successful bands looking to capitalize with tabloid tales of one of America’s most beloved bands?
- Criticism has always been a part of being associated with the EAGLES, whether it was about a new record or our excessive lifestyle, so I’ve gotten used to that.
     While there is a lot of juicy stories in the book it’s as honest, fair-handed and as unbiased as I could possibly be.  It’s a real look behind the current as to what “
Life in the Fast Lane” was really all about from my perspective.
     I think what makes the book so controversial isn’t the stories themselves it’s the fact that the
EAGLES had a steel door policy when it came to the press for a multitude of reasons.  There’s been such a mystique surrounding the band for so many years and I chose to pull back that curtain and let everyone take a peek at the wizard.

     Ross CAT
In the book you dig deep within your relationships in your family, especially your father with whom you had several heated differences of opinion in regards to your career choices.
     Do you think he ever really grasped the magnitude of success you reached before his passing?

- Unfortunately no he didn’t, he passed within the first year of the “On the Border” release, so we where just starting to enjoy the success of songs like “Already Gone” and “Best of my Love”.
     Ross CAT
Gainesville, Florida may have been best known for it’s Green Bud in the early seventies, but it also produced a killer crop of young guitar players like yourself, DUANE ALLMAN and TOM PETTY.
     Local legend has it that you gave TOM PETTY one of his very first guitar lessons, tell us about that?

- Yes I did give TOMMY PETTY, as he was known back then, guitar lessons he showed real promise.   I must tell you it was his voice that immediately impressed me so it didn’t come as a real surprise to me when he reached superstar status.
     Don’t forget STEPHEN STILLS in that group, while he wasn’t born there he spent some time there.  I honestly can’t tell you the reason for it, maybe it’s was something in the water or the
Gainesville green you alluded to.
     It really is amazing the number of Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame inductees that came out of that little area, for the life of me “
I Can’t Tell You Why”.
     All I can figure is that it was an extraordinary time musically; there where so many things going on that influenced us as young men and  musicians for instance witnessing ELVIS, B.B. KING and MILES DAVIS in their prime.  Couple that with the fact that we learned and played together hearing each other develop a certain sound and style of music that went on to be extremely successful.
     ’m not ashamed to say that I stole everything that I know from watching DUANE ALLMAN play the slide guitar.

     Ross CAT-
In the book you talk about how B.B. KING and DUANE ALLMAN influenced you as a guitarist and how you were mesmerized by the Jazz stylings of the great MILES DAVIS.
     Was it the unique tonality and broad range of musical diversity that you brought to the studio that made you alluring enough for the
EAGLES to invite you along as a permanent member?
- The first thing that impressed GLENN was my slide playing, he also recognized my arsenal of styles.  He would often come in when BERNIE LEADON and I where jamming with a huge grin on his face.
     What really turned
FREY on was that I could play Rock ‘n’ Roll which was his roots being a
Detroit native.  That was the direction he wanted to take the EAGLES after the tremendous success of the first two records.
     Ross CAT
While it may be a rarity one of the criticisms of the EAGLES music was being over produced and the lack of spontaneity on stage.
     In the book you talk about the lack of freedom you felt during the bands live performances, tell us about those frustrations as a guitar player not being able to step outside the box?

- For me improvisation is what turns me on as a musician.  That being said it’s not easily attainable and it’s not a zone that everyone feels comfortable in.
     That’s not to say you can’t be a gifted artist without having the propensity to improvise.  A prime example is
DON HENLEY, he has to have a controlled environment as a songwriter and drummer.  As a vocalist DON is brilliant and he’s one of the most prolific songwriters ever, but his dexterity as a drummer is limited.  I love his style but DON tends to keep it simple and contained so it’s difficult for him to just jam.
     While the music of the
EAGLES is exceptional, every song and every show was literally scripted, that took away the opportunity for myself and JOE WALSH to be spontaneous which was most definitely frustrating at times.

     Ross CAT
One of the rare occasions that you did get the chance to improvise was the intro toHotel California for theHell Freezes Over tour.  Was that a surprise to you when they approached you with that opportunity?
- No not really but that was only because that was my designated task from DON.  It really was a challenge to take one of the most popular songs ever written and rearrange it and completely change the chord progressions overnight. In all honesty I basically made it up on the spot at the taping of the performance.
     Ross CAT
While the grounding of the EAGLES by GLENN FREY in 1980 following the “Long Run” tour and subsequent release ofEAGLES LIVE record must have been devastating it almost seems like it may have saved your lives.
FELDER- I don’t think it was the band itself, it was what we were doing as a band, the consumption of drugs and alcohol was beyond belief.
     Everyone’s nerves where absolutely frayed to the rawest point, it was crisis point red alert we were all cooked.
     Really the only thing that could happen did happen, and that was for
GLENN to quit, he said he could no longer work with
HENLEY and just  walked away.
     I think if we would have managed our time better throughout the period between 1974-80 we could have survived some of the issues that came between us, the slightest of things had become intolerable.
     That’s really why
BERNIE LEADON left the band he could see that our well being wasn’t a top priority from the powers that be.  Ironically enough his prediction came to fruition.

     Ross CAT
It seems during the disagreements between DON and GLENN and even management you would sometimes act as a piece maker. Many times standing up for BERNIE, RANDY, TIMOTHY and JOE; do you have any regrets about sticking your neck out one too many times on behalf of your band mates?
FELDER- Absolutely not, as I said everyone worked on building the EAGLES catalog and corporation and should have reaped the benefits.  I felt compelled to represent the interest of those who where no longer with the band as they contributed just as much as the guy standing next to him on stage and in the studio.  In my eyes it was a matter of principal and integrity.
     Ross CAT
Since the release of Heaven & Hell have you gotten any feedback from any of your former band mates?
- I speak with RANDY MEISNER and BERNIE LEADON regularly, we are lifelong friends and I owe them a lot for the success I’ve enjoyed in music.
actually helped along the way with the book verifying my recollections and doing some fact checking, as you might imagine some periods were quite cloudy.
     As far as
BERNIE  goes we’ve never really discussed it the book, it’s really not something that interests him anymore.  When BERNIE left the EAGLES he literally left that period of his life behind him and has never looked back.

     Ross CAT
Most of your time with the EAGLES while highly successful on so many levels was also filled with inner conflict on how you lived your life both personally and professionally.
     What kind of emotions stir within you when you hear the
EAGLES songs on the radio or perform them live at this stage of your life?
- When I hear them I primarily recall the times we had making the music in the studio.  The best part of playing the songs live, especially a song like “Hotel California” is getting to see the people respond to something that I helped create and worked on my entire life to develop, it’s a connection like no other.
     I correlate it to me sitting in the crowd at a B.B. KING show and the tingle I get down my spine watching him play after all these years.
     I thank God for being so blessed, playing music is my dream come true.

     Ross CAT
You wrote the music for Hotel
California”, which was originally titled Mexican Bolero, while scanning the sea from your ocean front house in Malibu. 
     It seems as if the music for that celebrated song was your apex as a guitarist, in a sense you calling.

- You nailed it, that song grew from the roots of my musical upbringing.  I truly hope that it brings everyone as much pleasure hearing it as it brings to me playing it.
     Ross CAT
In reading the book it sounds like you have loads of unfinished material from your post EAGLES career, will we hear any new material from DON FELDER in 2009?
FELDER- I’m actually about half way through a solo CD right now.  I’m hoping to finish it up in the first half of the year and releasing it in the summer or fall of 2009’.
     Ross CAT
Lets talk about your upcoming weekend at the Fallsview Casino.  The show is billed as An Evening at the Hotel California, what can fans expect other then the obvious?
- I’ve limited my touring in recent years primarily because I want to have new material to take out on the road.  So I may slide in a new song or two for a test drive at the Casino this weekend.
     I’ll also be breaking out songs from my time with the
EAGLES as well as music from my solo catalog including the “Heavy Metal” soundtrack.

     Ross CAT
Will we hear DON FELDER step out from behind the heavenly harmonies of the EAGLES to sing lead vocals?
- Most definitely, as a matter of fact you’ll hear me quite a bit.
     I’m really looking forward to sharing the music with our friends from
Western New York and Southern Ontario.
     Ross CAT
Lastly DON, tell us about your daughter LEAH FELDER ( who is making a name for herself in the music biz?
- That’s right, as a matter fact she will be along with me performing this weekend.
     She’s about half way through her first solo record as well, she has a deal with Warner Brothers records without any help from dear ole Dad; needless to say I’m extremely proud of
 The Rock Rapport would like to Thank DON FELDER for his time.  Thanks also goes out to Allison Garman from Rogers & Cowan for hooking us up with the interview.

**************PEACE & HARMONIES***************

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