Heaven And Hell (1974 2001)Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974- 2001) by Don Felder is a 2009 Wiley publication. I’ve had this book in my TBR for a long while, and after my husband and I watched “The History of Eagles” on Netflix, I decided to push this book to the top of the pile. I had read the first chapter or two when it was announced that founding member of The Eagles, Glenn Frey, had passed away.
After that, I felt weird about reading a book I knew would not cast Glenn in the most positive light, like I wasHeaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974- 2001) by Don Felder is a 2009 Wiley publication. I’ve had this book in my TBR for a long while, and after my husband and I watched “The History of Eagles” on Netflix, I decided to push this book to the top of the pile. I had read the first chapter or two when it was announced that founding member of The Eagles, Glenn Frey, had passed away. After that, I felt weird about reading a book I knew would not cast Glenn in the most positive light, like I was speaking ill of the dead or something…. Not that people on Twitter had any problem in doing that. (which no matter what, was very disrespectful)However, I have listened to the Eagles music for most of my life and despite their reputation for being egotistical jerks, I still like the music and you have to admit, the guys are talented. They sing, write, harmonize, and play musical instruments, and can cross over into more than one genre. I will freely admit the band members are not easy to like, and just from watching that documentary over the band, I could tell what of kind of people they are, especially Glenn and Don, at least in their professional lives. So, even though I felt Glenn’s loss, and was very sad to hear of his passing, my curiosity got the better of me, and I kept picking this book up over the past few weeks and reading a few chapters here and there, until finally, I put everything else aside in order to finished it. So, what did I think of Felder’s take on things? I have to say, the tone was far less strident than I had anticipated. Felder describes his poor background in Florida, his upbringing, issues with his father, his musical influences, how he got started in music, met Bernie Leadon, and how all this eventually culminated into his long time stint with The Eagles. As with any rock bio, Felder attempts to portray himself in the best light possible, while everyone else was the villain. Still, it was not hard to believe that Glenn and Don took over the band and became the leaders, delegating everyone else to ‘staff’ positions. I understood his position on the political front and thought Frey grossly overreacted after playing the dictator, forcing his political leanings down Felder’s throat and then holding a grudge for years on end. Don was chided for refusing to move forward and accept that the original agreement the band had no longer applied when the band reformed in the nineties. He was sure he was being screwed over, but apparently he was the only one who felt that
way. But, frankly, IF his version of events is true, then he has a valid complaint, especially since his manager was not working in his best interest. Don has every right to question all the answers, especially where his pay was concerned. Wouldn’t you? He did bleed bitterness onto the page as he labeled Don and Glenn as “The Gods”, and described the constant tension he worked in. But, there were no real surprises there, and well, there wasn’t much of anything here had not surmised or heard before, with a few possible exceptions. However, when it came to Don's personal life, I came away feeling less than impressed with his attitude toward women. We all know the groupies on the road are rampant, especially back at the peak of the group’s success. Don painted himself out to be a victim of circumstances, having to be made of stone in order to have resisted that type of temptation. He had a supportive and loving wife, a nice family, and he rationalized his actions by trying to convince us the women meant nothing and his that he was able to separate what happened on the road from his family life, as though that made it all okay. Eventually, his wife wises up, and the marriage still manages to survive a great number of years. But, when she launched a highly successful career of her own, he suddenly couldn’t cope with that. He was absent for long periods of times while touring, but when his wife was absent from home, and not putting his dinner on the table and constantly nurturing him, and soothing his ego, the marriage fell apart. Good grief! What a sexist!! Ultimately, Don complained too long and too loud, and it ended up costing him his gig with the band. Obviously, this was something he never saw coming and he has had a very hard time coming to terms with the way things played out for him. He sued the band and believes he is in the right, but now of course the band is pretty much done as far as touring goes. So, how all that will work out for him now remains to be seen. Overall, the book is interesting as far as it goes, but in many ways it’s a rehash of old animosity and bitterness, something Don seems to want to hold onto and nurse, instead of letting it go and living his life. As far as how things went within the band, I was not at all shocked, and you won’t be either. Love them or hate them, (there doesn’t seem to be an in between), The Eagles music will continue on for decades to come. Each band member is talented in his own right, and from a musical standpoint, I respect them.Don has a lot to be proud of career wise and was far luckier than most in that regard. As it stands now, it would appear he has alienated his former bandmates and friends, or they alienated him, and he seems very hurt by the loss, but hopefully, he can look back on his career and focus on all his success and hold on that, instead of all the negative aspects, and let go of all that bitterness in order to find inner stability and peace. 3.5 stars ...more