Four decades after he penned the song of a generation, Don Felder, former lead guitarist for the Eagles, can think of few things more exciting than birthing new music. “It’s an exhilarating experience to walk into a studio that’s dark and totally quiet, turn on the lights, turn on the equipment and breathe life into some musical concept that just comes through you,” he says.
What separates Felder’s third solo album from the previous is that American Rock ’n’ Roll, inspired by the history of rock from Woodstock to present day, has a caliber of collaborations that would make any classic rock fan tear up. On the title track, Mick Fleetwood evokes the ’70s on the drums, while Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Chad Smith brings the track into the ’80s and ’90s. Merging two legendary rock bands, Guns n’ Roses’ Slash and Felder duel it out on guitar. Those are just some of Felder’s famous friends appearing on the album. “I was surprised that everyone that I reached out to responded really quickly and were delighted to do it,” he says.
For Felder, the most fulfilling part of his job is sharing music with a live audience, and even after all these years, the song he most enjoys performing is “Hotel California” (which he calls the most complicated musical configuration he has created). As for where or what that much-debated hotel is, it’s actually a state of mind, he reveals. “Nobody from the band was from California. We all drove in on Route 66, and when you’re about a hundred miles away, you can see the glow of Los Angeles on the horizon as you’re coming through the desert,” he says. “You start envisioning all those images that have been pounded into our brains since we were children: You want to be on Hollywood Boulevard. You want to have your star in the cement. You want that success. It’s that attraction, that glamour, that concept about what it is that draws so many people to California, and it drew everyone in this band right out here as well.”
Photography by: Michael Helms