Heaven and Hell – by Don Felder and Wendy Holden…Book

Let me start this out by being completely truthful. I am not an Eagles fan whatsoever but I like biographies and I do respect the band as musicians and songwriters. This is a good book for Eagles fans and rock fans in general. It covers a lot of history of the Eagles and rock in the 60s and 70s.

Felder by far was the most versatile of the band. He was offereded a teaching job at Berklee College of Music in Boston before he even joined the Eagles.

What made me want to read this book was…the documentary on the Eagles released in 2013 (I also love rock documentaries). One of the reasons they made the documentary was because of this book! Don Henley and Glenn Frey were livid about Heaven and Hell and wanted to tell their side. The funny thing is… they ended up proving Don Felder right on most of what he wrote.

It’s a good book…I liked it because it helped document an important time in rock music…the sixties and seventies. The book is interesting for more reasons than the Eagles. Florida in the 1960s was a hotspot for future rock and roll stars. Don Felder, Tom Petty, Allman Brothers, Stephen Stills, and Lynyrd Skynyrd just to name a few were all playing clubs on both coasts of Florida.

Don Felder grew up in Gainesville Florida and worked at a music store. He gave young Tommy his first guitar lessons…that Tommy would be Tom Petty. He played in a band with Stephen Stills in high school. He then met future Eagle Bernie Leadon and they started to play in bands together. Felder was taught slide guitar by no other than Duane Allman! They played many of the clubs that the Allman Joys did.

It’s worth reading just for his pre-Eagle days.

When the Eagles first formed, their goal was to divide the writing and singing equally. That way, they reasoned, nobody would become a star or feel like a sideman. That had happened in their previous bands, and they didn’t create the Eagles to go through all that again. After a while that plan went out the window and the problems started.

You learn about the dynamics of the Eagles and how everything changed after Hotel California. Henley and Frey took over the band and called the shots. The problem was Felder was a full member (owner) in the band unlike Timothy B Schmit and Joe Walsh who were just paid employees then and now. When Felder would sugggest something or would want to know where the money was going…he was ignored or pushed off to Irving Azoff the manager by Henley and Frey.

He also covers the problems that Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner had with Frey and Henley….and the close friendship that he had with Joe Walsh.

This is not a gossip book. Felder doesn’t use the book just to slam Frey and Henley. Felder has faults and we see them in this book. He does seem to try to be even handed. As I’ve mentioned before…one look at the Eagles documentary and most of what he says will be verified. He covers their career…up until he was let go.

It’s an enjoyable book and I would recommend it. As I said, I’m not an Eagles fan but I enjoyed it.


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

30 thoughts on “Heaven and Hell – by Don Felder and Wendy Holden…Book”

  1. This surely sounds interesting, Max. All these relationships between these top notch musicians are fascinating. I mean, wouldn’t you have loved to get a guitar lesson by Duane Allman, one of the best rock guitarists who ever walked on this planet?

    I have to say I really dig the Eagles, though I make a distinction between what I feel are their great songs and perfect harmony singing and some of the group’s individuals, especially Don Henley who doesn’t strike me as somebody I’d like to hang out with. I feel the same way about Glenn Frey. Again, both terrific musicians and songwriters, but there’s just something that rubs me the wrong way about them.

    I recall one of my music friends told me he once posted a guitar lesson for an Eagles tune on YouTube. I’m blanking on the title now. Next thing he knew was some lawyer for the Eagles was after him. I believe he even got kicked off YouTube for his terrible crime!

    I’ve heard more than once Henley is notorious for this kind of BS! I understand you don’t want other people to profit from your work. But going after somebody who clearly loved your music over copyright infringement or whatever is just ridiculous – shame on you!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Christian…what made the book so interesting since I don’t like them a lot was the cross pollination of the musicians in Florida. What a state to be in…in the 60s. So much talent…

      When I’ve posted a Henley song…I have to post a live one so I don’t post music from him anymore. He has taken all the studio cuts down….which is stupid because it keeps people’s interest up in his work. I totally get where you are coming from…it’s so dumb…. a guitar lesson? Oh geez.

      When I saw that documentary… I had to have the book that made Frey and Henley so angry…the funny thing is…Felder doesn’t go out of his way to trash them at all. They show more anger toward him in the documentary.

      Things got worse once they reuntied. The control of Frey and Henley was huge.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. I too am not an Eagles fan, putting it mildly. Except for Joe Walsh who I do like, and will always wish he had not lent his name and talents to them. The book sounds like it tells a good story. Your review is nicely written, and almost makes me want to read it in spite of my total lack of interest in those guys. 😀 I’m always amazed at how connected that generation of musicians were behind the scenes and before their fame took off.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I watched that documentary of them and got curious. I hardly ever read a book on a band or person that I don’t like so this was different. Henley and Frey would not have been easy to be around….at all.

      I did read in other books about Felder, Allman, Stills, Petty, and others crossing paths…that was really interesting.

      Florida in the sixties was so full of talent. That part alone made the book interesting.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. A place that I wouldn’t have thought that. I knew about the Southern rock bands but mix in Stills, Feldman, and others…

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review, Max. Happy New Year! I’m going to get this book. It’ll be a relief from the serial killer research I’ve been doing of late. Ugh. I’ve always got these vibes from The Eagles…that Frey and Henley ruled the roost and were egomaniacs. Felder was the odd man out kind of like George Harrison was in The Beatles.
    That said, I’ve always wondered why there are Eagles haters. They have such a solid cannon of work. Like you’ve stated, they are excellent musicians and songwriters. Do you find them too formulaic? Are they too sterile…not enough soul? If so, I can see evidence of that criticism, but not to the extent of being a hater. Just like to hear your thoughts.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I can’t say that I don’t like Desperado, Take It To The Limit, and a few choice songs but…great question!
      I think they were striving for perfection so much that they polished the soul out of many of their recordings. I was happy to read that Felder believed this true on many of their songs.
      He said anything with a spark was left on the cutting room floor at times. You know how mistakes can be great things? Not in the Eagles.

      Yes Frey and Henley seemed to be unbearable. Meisner and Leadon left because of the shenanigans of Frey mostly and Henley.

      But saying this…I do respect them a great deal. Henley and Frey were excellent singers and songwriters…that I can’t deny.
      The part of the book that got my attention was Florida in the 1960s. What a hotbed for musicians!

      You know what is really funny? I love Henley’s solo albums of the 80s…more than Eagles albums. Why I don’t know. Sorry for the huge reply Pam!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I like the Eagles (unlike a whole lot of people here I think) but also tend to agree with you that Henley’s first three solo albums may have been better than any 3 Eagles ones. Felder is a real talent and seemed to be better-grounded than the others in the band. Kind of funny the two biggest bands of the late-’70s were them and Fleetwood Mac and both were California-based and extraordinarily dysfunctional.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is true about Fleetwood Mac and The Eagles.
      I like a select choice of songs but yea….I do respect them…you can’t help but respect them.

      Felder is a world class musician and to be honest probably technically better than Walsh but…technical is not always the best to me. Joe has a great feel for guitar.

      He seems to be very humble and like you said grounded. He was not bitter in this book hardly at all. He was disappointed and I think he has good reason to be.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I will keep my eyes open for it and might add it to the list, I don’t think Ive seen the book on shelves but it should be easy to get on Amazon or B&Nonline.
        It occurs to me that another common thread between the Eagles and F Mac was the huge intake of coke back in the 70s (not that that was limited to those two bands by any means). I think when you get guys (or even women) who are already trying to be kind of an alpha-male or female, after they do enough lines they feel entirely invincible and entirely above questioning, so compromises on songs or anything else are going to be hard to come by.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Coke….I have seen what it does to people. We were playing a club in the early 90s…the owner was green…very naive about how to run a club or bar. I started to hear stories about him doing a lot of coke….
        He soon became impossible to deal with. He didn’t care who the hell he pissed off or if he was rude. It was all about him. Other people around him did the same thing.

        Yes it’s no telling how much coke those two bands did at that time. Zeppelin was the other giant band around that time that did their share also.

        Cocaine probably had a lot to do with Rumours….or at least did it’s part between them all.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. While they’ve generally been one of those bands where I’ve been content with owning a greatest hits album and their single best-known album, rather than snapping up everything they’ve ever done – I was taken enough by this review to go online and order straight away. Think it will provide a fascinating insight into many of the tensions. you’ve sold it to me!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Other than the Eagles…it does say a lot about the 60s and 70s rock style life which is interesting in itself.
      It does go into the tensions…he tries to take the high ground most of the time.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I like The Eagles music for what it is, radio pop. They’ve had so many good songs. I don’t have any interest in delving deeper into who they are though. Joe Walsh is the only one I would be vaguely interested in learning more about. Not enough to tip the scale…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. The part that really got me was Florida in the 60s. I also read about it in a Tom Petty book, Allman Brothers book, and others… Florida in the 60s had a boatload full of talent.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I wrote a brief thing about all the Gainesville connections a few years ago – pretty amazing. Benmont Tench was briefly at a prep school in New Hampshire with Peter Holsapple. I like the Felder story about taking him out to lunch while Henley did sneaky lead vocals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That was a sneaky lunch…I would like to have heard if Felder sounded decent in the vocals.

      There were more bands from Florida at that time…many young southern rock guys…ton of talent.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’ll check it out. Oh yea Henley was the best singer in the band.
        Maybe it’s because I think as a Beatles fan…Paul has a much better voice than Ringo…but…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I will say…he inpressed me live…He did really well…even on the last note of With A Little Help…

        On the other hand…I was given tickets to see Don Henley in the 90s…it was all I could do to stay awake. The man doesn’t go off of the planned program.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I live in Tennessee and you would think they were a southern rock band here…not southern California lol.
      It is a good book…Felder seems down to earth and the stories about 1960s Florida are pretty cool. Thanks for reading John.

      Liked by 1 person

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