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Heaven and Hell, by Don Felder

Heaven and hell I always figured Don Henley and Glenn Frey were egomaniacs...Don Felder's tell-all book called Heaven and Hell not only confirmed my assumption but provided loads of details to back it up.  Wow.  I know the money was great and all but I still can't understand how Felder survived all those years with these guys.

When I first opened this book I assumed I would skip whatever pre-Eagles coverage Felder offered and jump right in to the Hotel California era.  I also thought I'd cut it short and not bother reading much beyond the band's first breakup.  Much to my surprise, I started reading about Felder's childhood on page one and was immediately hooked.  The guy has led a fascinating life and it's remarkable how many other well-known musicians he's stumbled across over the years.  Growing up in Gainesville gave him access to bands like The Allman Brothers and he was even Tom Petty's first guitar teacher.

While the early years of Felder's life were more interesting than I originally figured, the book really shines when he hooks up with The Eagles after they've had a taste of success in 1974.  Hotel California is one of my favorite albums and probably the only one I care much about from The Eagles.  The story of how that album was made, and how that song was written, is riveting.  Felder takes you behind the scenes of tours, studio sessions and traveling with the band.  You get the impression you're right there in the same room with these guys.  The book is exceptionally well-written.

I finished reading it last night and I'm still marvelling at how Henley, Frey and the band's manager (Irving Azoff) railroaded Felder into a much smaller cut of the proceeds towards the end.  And yes, I realize Henley and Frey were the two "faces" of the band and they had much more successful solo careers than Felder, but still...I'll bet Paul and John never hosed George and Ringo like that.  When you see these mega-bands from the '70's reuniting for "one final farewell tour" and ticket prices are well north of $100 it's hard to look at it as anything other than greed.  Heaven and Hell will reinforce that notion, particularly when it comes to Don Henley, Glenn Frey and Irving Azoff.  No matter how much you liked (or even disliked) The Eagles, Heaven and Hell is a very worthwhile read and sheds much light on the '70's music scene.

Comments

Tyler Clark

Seriously, I don't understand how the Eagles have maintained their "salt of the earth"/everyman image after years of greed and egomania. Despite having some good tunes, I hate the Eagles.

Stephen Tiano

I read the book a week or two back, after reading your entry above, Joe. I've been an Eagles fan for over 30 years. Their songs captured a time and a tone for me that went beyond the fact that I just like how they sound. They're one of the few bands I've put aside my distaste for crowds and tight spaces to see live. But the book revealed so much crummy behavior by Henley and Frey that I don’t enjoy them quite the same way I used to. Now that's a powerful book!

Chris Howland

I have read the book and being a big Eagels fan, I found it very well written and upfront. I guess I never really knew the whole story behind on of the greatest rock bands in history. I would love to have my book signed by Mr. Felder as a great keepsake but I live in Vermont and I am sure there will be no book signing here anytime soon. If I sent it to him could he sign it and return it to me? Can someone give me some information regarding this? I am not a psycho or anything, just a big fan. Thank you for a great book and an eye opening look at the real Eagles.

Joe Wikert

Hi Chris. I'm guessing the best chance for you to get your book signed is to hunt Felder down directly on his own website...

tscopel

I just read Heaven and Hell. Henley and Frey have lost a lot of stock with me. Felder is the only one of the three that is grounded and is truly an Eagle.

C. Frederick

Just finished Heaven and Hell. Interesting read and thought provoking to hear Felder's perspective on the whats and whys of the fueding. I was at a concert during the Hell Freezes over tour in Atlanta (about '95) and Frey forgot the words to New Kid in Town. Maybe he and Felder were fueding that night. I hope we get "the Gods" perspective on this at some point in the future. Surely there is more than one side to this story.

Tony Naples

What a great "tell all" book. Once I sat down to read the book, I couldn't put it down! Don Felder was always and still is my favorite "Eagle"! He will always soar above "The Gods" as far as I'm concerned. Don Felder will go down in Rock & Roll history as one of the best guitarists ever! Keep up the great work Don and I truly look forward to what the future holds for you and your music! Heaven & Hell made the "hairs stand up on my spine"!

The best of luck Don!

Tom Pitoniak

I'd have to differ on Hotel California as their best album, since by then the excrescences (or excretions) of their stature enveloped their music like a bad day of L.A. smog. No, their richer (musically, aesthetically) work is on their first album, self-titled; on Desperadoes (better than On the Border, by far); and on One of These Nights, including not just the hits but beauties like "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" and "Hollywood Waltz." Hotel Calif. does offer one of the great environmental songs, the gorgeous "The Last Resort," worth comparing to the New Riders' "Last Lonely Eagle." Great green songs.

Derek Still

I bought every Eagles record and CD that I could find, and now I'm looking for a copy of Don Felder's book. Since he left I haven't bought a single CD and honestly think that Eagles new band is now an awful band. I mean what's with the sax's? A whole new sound, and a gritty oone at that. Eagles have lost the best member and one of their best fans. Love ya Don.

dagsy

c a poulter

The latest album was a big yawn (one tack is worthy of mention only - JD Souther's "How Long" from 1974 re-done). No Felder was pretty obvious...

To contact Don Felder go to www.myspace.com/donfelder he reads all mail (I'm pretty sure) but of course you need to be concious that he gets a lot of mail too and can't always answer every request he gets...

From personal experience I've found him to be a kind and geniune person - C A Poulter (Author, Artist, Screenwriter).

Derek Hutton

I HAVE BEEN AN EAGLES FAN SINCE THE MID 70'S WHEN I WAS IN MY EARLY TWENTIES AND HAVE MOST OF THEIR CD'S IN MY COLLECTION.
WHEN I STARTED READING DON'S BOOK, I COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN (BURNED A HELLUVA LOT OF MIDNITE OIL OVER 3 DAYS).
I MUST SAY IT WAS A GREAT BIOGRAPHY OF DON AND REALLY PUT THINGS INTO PERSPECTIVE AS FAR AS BEHIND THE SCENES WAS CONCERENED. I'M NOT SURPRISED BY THE POWER STRUGGLE AND EGOS IN A BAND AS BIG AS THE EAGLES. LIKE THE BEATLES, IT WAS A PITY THAT THOSE ISSUES CAUSED THEIR BREAKUP !
I BELIEVE THAT DON HAS GIVEN AN HONEST AND HEARTFELT ACCOUNT IN THIS GREAT BOOK.

DEREK FROM JOHANNESBURG

John O'Leary

Good post - and thread - on a book I highly recommend. I'd love to hear the other side of this story, but Felder comes off as a pretty fair-minded fella.

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