Coca Cola Stage | Saturday, June 10 | 7 p.m.
From the hotbed of classic rock talent that was Gainesville, Florida in the 60s, to the sunny coast of California, Don Felder has become a world-wide name. Guitarist for The Eagles for 27 years, Don was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with the band in 1998. Despite his extensive, successful career, he’ll be the first to tell you that he could’ve never imagined this life when he was just starting out, teaching guitar lessons for pennies an hour to a young Tom Petty.
CS: Can you share a favorite memory from your career with the Eagles?
DF: I think my favorite memory with the Eagles was going into the studio with them to play slide guitar on “Good Day in Hell” and then getting a phone call from Glenn the next day asking me to join the band. It just came out of the blue, and I was totally flabbergasted by their invite. Then I went into the studio and worked on “Already Gone,” and the energy in the room was electric with excitement from everyone.
CS: Can you speak a bit about what it means to have been inducted into something as prestigious as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 – Did you ever imagine you’d have such an impactful career?
DF: I don’t think anyone in Gainesville, or any small town for that matter, ever really imagines being bestowed with such a huge honor. We were just kids obsessed with playing rock and roll. We were always pushing each other to raise the bar and see who could pass it. There was lots of competition between us but in a very friendly way.
CS: Duane Allman was the first electric slide guitar player you had ever seen – Can you tell us about that friendship, and the impact it had on you?
DF: Greg and Duane lived in Daytona Beach and played in different bands throughout Gainesville and Daytona. They were always the best band in North Florida, and always won battle of the bands! After gigs in the summer we’d all go grab breakfast and often, crash at their mom’s house. That’s where I got to see, up close, what Duane was doing. He taught me the basics of slide guitar – from how to tune to using a glass medicine bottle. We just sat on the floor and had my lesson. I never tried to copy him because he was so far ahead of me I couldn’t keep up, but I owe him everything for taking the time to teach me the basics.
CS: What do you enjoy about open-air shows like Riverbend, and what can fans expect from your live performance?
DF: I love playing outdoor shows, even more than indoor shows. The sound is always better and if the weather is right, it can be a magical experience for both the artist and audience! My show is always full of surprises. I play a variety of solo songs, some Eagles hits that I co-wrote and recorded, and some surprises that I can’t reveal until that night. I love feeding off of the crowd at every show. It’s like an endorphin high every night. That’s one of the things about performing live that I absolutely love!
CS: This summer you’ll be heading out with Stix and REO Speedwagon on the United We Rock Tour – Are you excited to be working with these guys and be back on the road?
DF: I have so much fun with these guys both on stage and off. The entire group, including the crews, are just great people who love to have fun doing what we are blessed to be able to do. No drama, no hissy fits, just great music and lots of laughs. Of course I’m looking forward to doing that again. Who wouldn’t?
Photo Courtesy of Michael Helms