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.