"Heaven and Hell, My Life In The Eagles
(1974-2001)", by Don Felder with Wendy Holden
Copyright 2008 Published by John Wiley & Sons
340 pgs;45 BW glossy photographs;8 pgs of index
The book is both an account of Felder's life from early
memories of his childhood growing up in Florida, as well as his "life" with the Eagles. It speaks of childhood traumas, introduction
to music and associations with others who would also go on to become famous in the
music business, like Tom Petty, who was an early music student of Don’s, Steve Stills, and Bernie Leadon, who ultimately got Don his gig with the
Let me say right off the top that Don Felder does not blast
the Eagles as having been a mistake for him. Obviously, Don would not have the fame and financial security he now has
were he to have made the decision NOT to join them!
I won’t disclose details of the book. To do that could influence the decision a
prospective reader might make in reading the book. I will say however that it’s a book that
anyone interested in rock music history should read and for an Eagles fan a "must
read", though you might come away with a different perspective on the
Eagles after reading it! I don’t think
that there’s a lot of fresh information in it that hasn't been either
documented or speculated on publicly, but what it does do is give the reader a
perspective of the Eagles from Don Felder's point of view.
When reading this, it’s important to remember that this book
is about Don Felder and the story unfolds from his personal perspective. It seems to be an honest attempt to document
Don's feelings, trials and tribulations, and each incident he recounts is somewhat
subjective. No doubt there is a certain degree
of spin, but who of us would be capable of living through that set of events
that made up Don's journey and then document it from a completely objective
point of view? In fact, there were parts
that, were I Felder, I probably would not have included, but I think those
parts made up a large portion of the cause and effect mechanism that produced
the Don Felder of today and he must have felt compelled to include them.
I’ve seen comments that the book consists of a lot of whining by Felder, which must have derived from the final chapters of the book, dealing with his divorce from long-time wife Susan, and his lawsuit against Eagles Ltd. (in which he was an equal partner with Henley and Frey). But I didn't really see it as whining, more Don's way of documenting the situation from the way he felt.
I don’t believe the writer of an autobiography can be more
honest than when he documents his feelings about an event, whether the feelings
were objective or skewed by emotion. If they were Don’s perceptions and he
documented them as such, then I have no problem with that. The
reader has to bear in mind there are two sides to every story and they're getting
only one of those sides in Heaven And Hell.
It's obvious as one reads this book that, although Wendy Holden ably helped Don express himself, this truly is an account of Don Felder BY Don Felder and not some ghost writer prettying things up.
To sum it up, I’ll unconditionally endorse this book as an easy read, revealing pertinent information, and one you won’t regret reading.