The Wages of Rock And Roll Success

Heaven and Hell – My Life in the Eagles, by Don Felder


Okay, by now you know I have more than a passing interest in popular music, particularly that since the ‘sixties. And I suppose there’s an element of postmodern voyeurism in the mix as well. But I try to restrict myself to the more interesting and well told tales of such personalities. Don Felder gives us in his book what seems an honest picture of what life is like behind the staged image of rock ‘n’ roll. And if you’ve ever wondered what it takes to get to that level of musical capability, Felder gives you his own version of how those musical gifts are developed.

He begins with the story of his childhood in Gainesville, Florida, of his attraction to music, then to guitar playing, leading him to the black side of town, a chance meeting with B.B. Kin,g and a move north to Boston, New York, and finally to California in pursuit of his music dreams. It’s in California that he eventually becomes a founding member of the Eagles rock band. As the band’s success grows, so do the temptations. Their intense schedules lead to drug and alcohol abuse, and as groupies latch onto the band’s fame, the newly wedded Felder is tempted sexually. His picture of the band’s life is one of contentiousness, creatively and personally, and this never seems to go away. In fact, it seems to grow more pronounced as the years go by and as the band members age.



In the end, Felder’s is a morality tale of the price extracted from one’s soul in chasing fame and money. Lives are for learning, and Felder shares his lessons with the readers, lessons that are basic, to be sure, but lessons that are not all that easy to learn.


My rating: 17 of 20 stars


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