Amps and Green Screens caught up with Don Felder, former EAGLE, author, and solo-artist currently out on the road having a blast with his friends in FOREIGNER & STYX. They are bringing the hits to Verizon Theater at Grand Prairie this Saturday May 17th, with more dates to follow. Here’s Don’s chat with our own SCANDALOUS:
Don: It is a collection of songs written from my life. I was writing my book and reliving and recounting my child experiences, my divorce from my first wife, and a lot of other things I had been through. Reliving these things often emotionally moved me, and I would go into my studio and just start to write. I wrote 27 songs as a collection, I kept the best 16.
Amps: Out of the 27 songs, how did the 16 tracks on the album make the cut?
Don: The album is a diverse musical landscape. The content and themes had to thread together lyrically. Some songs were therapy for me, but they did not work with the other songs well enough. “Wash Away” is just one song I wrote with Tommy Shaw that hit #4 on the Classic Charts. I was working on it in my studio, and Tommy happened to be in town and not on the road with STYX. We re-wrote the song together and it was about going through life’s dramatic experiences as we batter our way through life. It is about being free of the scars on your heart that life gives you.
Amps: Upon my first listen to Road to Forever, I was automatically drawn to the “Girls in Black” track. What do you have against women who wear red, and what is it about a girl who wears black?
Don: Haha! I don’t have anything against women who wear red, only when they are red with anger. I’ve always had an attraction to women who wear black, jeans, tops, dresses. Black clothes and blonde hair. I think there is a beautiful amount of sensuality of women dressed in black, the things near and dear to heart.
Amps: What can you tell me about the collaborations on the record?
Don: I collaborated with a lot of artists. Crosby Stills and Nash, Tommy Shaw, and TOTO are on there. Randy Jackson the “dawg guy” from American Idol. Most people don’t know he is an incredible bass player, the best in LA. I sent him a copy of “Some Day”, he spent some time on it, and it turned out to be my favorite bass track on the whole record.
Amps: You are notorious for your double-necked guitar playing. For the gear and guitar fanatics out there, what should people avoid, what works well for you, and which guitars really turn you on?
Don: I have a guitar fetish if you want to know the truth. I have a collection of 300 guitars, with 8 stolen from me. They are my life stories, each representing something that happened to me in life, or a time, or a tour. I got my Gibson Sunburst 59 Les Paul from a Texas guitar trader called Tony Dukes. In the 70’s, Tony would drive around in his station wagon, filling it with the best guitars he could find, in pawn shops or under peoples beds. He would just show up to Eagles shows and I would buy everything he had. He had Fender Telecasters, Les Paul Gold Tops, and Les Paul Black Beauties. What you would think was expensive back then, paying $1,200.00 for a guitar. Some of them are worth well over six figures.
Don: We put together a compilation CD to commemorate what we were doing. We wanted to put together a disc that people could pick up at the show, or have available at Walmart. “Hotel California” was the obvious choice. Kelly Hansen, Mick Jones & I went into the studio and took turns re-arranging it. We took turns singing lead vocals, sang the chorus together, and re-did the Joe Walsh solo. It was very organic, and we had so much fun getting to know each other in the studio. The song starts off acoustically and slowly transforms into a full on rock song by the end.
We started doing press and making announcements for the tour and I started to realize this tour is going to be a lot of fun. There is not a single person on this run that has an ego. The catalogue that FOREIGNER and STYX has, the number of hits. Hit after hit, this is the most fun, and best dollar purchase you can make for fun this summer.
Amps: What makes a good show a good show for you, and what can we expect from the set list?
Don: Anytime I walk on stage, and play the music that I love to play. I always hope for a symbiotic relationship of everyone having as much fun as I am, and singing the songs. I take time to take pictures and sign autographs after the shows.
Amps: You released Heaven and Hell, a kind of tell all book from your time with THE EAGLES. Can you tell us about the book?
Don: THE EAGLES were a very tight-lipped organization. We did very little press, no one got to see behind the curtain, no one saw the friction and tension and personalities that were in the band. It was a closed door policy, this pull back the curtain so you can see the wizard. Like the documentary we did, it was very a very cathartic process for me to kind of get my feelings out about it all while trying to be as un-biased as I possibly could. This awakening of feelings led me to decide to play music again.
Amps: How do you want history to remember you?
Don: My life story is spelled out in my book Heaven and Hell… I had very humble beginnings, and was honestly impoverished. I was obsessed with music, and through leaving my home in Florida, starving in the streets in NY, moving to Boston, and the transformation that happened on that road. It was the love of music that propelled me; it was never the money or the fame. It was my passion and obsession with music.
WRITTEN BY SCANDALOUS