Bernie Leadon Recalls How He Helped Don Felder Join The Eagles
One of the original members of the Eagles, Bernie Leadon, recently talked about the band’s earlier days when they first hired Don Felder. He told the story of how he introduced the band to Felder and helped him get a spot.
Leadon joined the Eagles as the last original member in 1971. He mainly helped the band shape their initial country-rock sound but, his ventures with the band didn’t last long. Even though he only had two albums with the band, they were successful and helped the band gain recognition.
At the time Felder was playing small gigs with small bands. They were already friends with Leadon and he helped Felder get a job with Geffen Roberts management company and be involved in the bigger music scene for his career. With his job at Geffen Roberts, he had a chance to play with David Blue and Crosby and Nash. During the Eagle’s earlier days, Leadon introduced his friend to the rest of the band by taking him to one of their gigs. The band members were impressed with his guitar playing, but they didn’t think about hiring him at first.
In his recent interview, he spoke about Felder and said that because Felder came from a fancier educational background, he was a different gem than Glenn Frey on guitar. Not long after, the band decided to hire Felder, but Leadon wasn’t very excited about it because he knew that he and Frey would take the spotlight together and leave the rest of the band behind. After staying in the band for a year and a half more, Leadon left Eagles due to the increasing tensions regarding musical dynamics.
Here is the story recently told by Leadon:
“The Eagles happened, and we were coming through town, and I called Don Felder, or he called me. He came down to the show and maybe more than one time to different gigs. But I remember he was kind of playing and showing off for the other guys in my band, and they’re like, ‘Oh yeah, you’re really a rock guitar player man.’ So then, he moved to LA, and I helped him. He came and slept on my floor with his young family. He got a place, I got him a job at Geffen Roberts management company playing with somebody else in their office, David Blue, and then he played with Crosby and Nash.
So now he’s on the scene, he’s in our management office, and I guess he was working on Henley and Fry. Interestingly, I thought Glenn Frey was a really good, focused electric guitar player. Rock and Roll electric guitar player, not really fancy. But, Glenn had that gift of playing something simple that people could understand and could remember. He went for this in the middle of the matter. Felder had been to this fancy music school, and he knew a lot of fancy licks and stuff. He was a really great guitar player, but it was a different dynamic.
The guys came to me and said, ‘We think we want to have Felder in the band, what do you think about that?’ Honestly, I had already seen the writing on the wall that it was going to become the Don and Glenn show, and I was already thinking, maybe I won’t be in this for a very long time. So I said, ‘Okay’ and my attitude was, ‘If I’m going to leave, better that a friend of mine gets the gig.’ But then I stayed for a year and a half. We already have a couple of cuts, we already had ‘Best of My Love,’ and ‘You Never Cry Like a Lover’ for the third album on the border, but then we changed producers, went to LA, hired Bill Szymczyk to be the producer and had Felder play in the rest of the album, so then he was in the band.”
You can watch the interview below.