The 20 Best Don Felder Quotes

The 76-year-old, Gainesville, Florida-born musician Don Felder is both a legend and a notorious figure in the history of rock and roll. Felder, who co-wrote his band the Eagles’ biggest hit, “Hotel California,” was also a part of the band’s tumult as it frayed and fizzled out in the wake of its popular album of the same name.

Videos by American Songwriter

But before the Eagles broke up, it experienced great highs as a group. From sold-out shows to myriad Grammy Awards, to fame and acclaim. With all that in his history, one might wonder what Felder has to say about his life, the world around him, his craft, and more. Here is the best of the best on what Don Felder has to say about it all.

[RELATED: We Asked AI to Write a Song In the Styles of Don Henley and Don Felder – See the Song]

1. “My story, is how a kid that’s born into really destitute poverty on a little dirt road in Florida winds up in one of the largest bands in history.”

2. “I never challenged control of the band. Basically, all I did was start asking questions. There’s an old adage in Hollywood amongst managers: ‘Pay your acts enough money that they don’t ask questions.’ And I started asking questions.”

3. “When the band first formed, everybody had been sidemen. So they said, ‘In this band there are no sidemen,’ and when I joined the band, it was still the same. There were some power struggles emerging, because Henley and Frey had sung all the hits at that point.”

4. “I was constantly in the studio at my home writing ideas that would later become ‘Hotel California’ or ‘Victim of Love.'”

5. “Being in a band with three guitar players, one thing you need to do is learn to make each guitar voice sound separate and identifiable.”

6. “I would say ‘Bye Bye Love’ is one of my favorite influential songs to this day, and ironically, they were so in sync with their harmonies that they sounded like one person. That approach to hearing and formulating harmonies stuck in my head, so when I joined the Eagles, my ear was trained to be able to hear a vocal that way.”

7. “I especially enjoyed some of the old hairstyles, with my hair down to my shoulders and a beard. And Henley’s nickname used to be ‘Furry Basketball’ because he had that fro. It was fun to just look at what was going on in that era and how we presented ourselves on stage.”

8. “Within a twelve or fourteen month period, I went through a divorce from my wife of 29 years, which is devastating emotionally and earthshaking as far as your whole world being turned upside-down. And within that same twelve month period, I left the Eagles.”

9. “There were about 400 heads of state from countries all over the world. I walked out and played ‘Hotel California,’ and everybody in the place gave me a standing ovation, and half of those countries don’t even speak English.”

10. “Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles, I was looking for work, and I happened to be invited to Ray’s studio and sat in and played on a couple of his demos. I didn’t charge him a dime for it. I was on cloud nine to be working in the same room as Ray Charles, one of my huge idols.”

11. “Glenn was the one who invited me to join the Eagles in 1974, and it turned out to be a gift of a lifetime to have spent so many years working side by side with him. He was funny, strong, and generous. At times, it felt like we were brothers, and at other times, like brothers, we disagreed.”

12. “When we were writing songs for the Eagles, Don Henley would be involved in some new love relationship, and he was always excited about them. But we were all waiting for the day that they would break up.”

13. “I try to write five or six songs each year and not just in one genre.”

14. “Tom Petty was one of my guitar students; I knew Duane, and Stephen [Stills] and I had a band. When he left, Bernie Leadon moved to Gainesville. His father was a nuclear physicist who was sent to the University of Florida to start their nuclear research facility, so he and I became friends.”

15. “Your nerve coatings are only so thick. When they get worn really thin and frayed, that’s when people say things, do things, misbehave.”

16. “When you got on the private plane, you had your own private lounge where you could close the door. So there wasn’t a lot of friendly conversation; we were in incubators by ourselves. That just bred a void—avoid each other, and avoid the issues.”

17. “For every album we worked on, I brought in reels of tape of somewhere between fourteen and eighteen songs—some of them completed, with lyrics and melodies, some of them basic tracks. Things came out of those products. Like, for ‘Hotel California’, I think I had a reel with sixteen songs on it.”

18. “I think Don Henley is a brilliant contemporary rock writer. He would have been a fabulous poet if he weren’t a musician. He was a literary major, and not only that—he’s gifted with a brilliant voice. To me, Don could sing the New York City Yellow Pages and I’d buy it. I just love the sound of his voice.”

19. “Being on the road has about 2 1/2 hours a day that are really great, and that’s when you’re onstage. The other 21 1/2 hours are very boring… It becomes like a void, and we chose to fill it with all the wrong things.”

20. “As a kid, I had my head under the hood of a car, either an old Ford or a Chevrolet, just learning about it so if anything happened, I could repair it.”

Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Gibson

Leave a Reply

Paul McCartney of The Beatles

10 Songwriting Tips from Paul McCartney