Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Turbulent flight

The Eagles soared into the stratosphere during the 1970s, but like many successful pop music acts, egos and greed drove them apart, former guitarist Don Felder reveals in new no-holds barred book

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SEVEN years ago, Don Henley and the Eagles were starting to work on their first record since 1979’s The Long Run

"It's a risky proposition," the singer and drummer said in an interview.

"We're competing with our own legacy. The music world has changed a great deal, radio has changed a great deal, so it'll be interesting to see if they'll still let us play.

"If we're going to keep touring, we don't want to become a nostalgia act. We don't want to become an oldies act. We want to be a band that's current, and in order to do that we need to write new material. I'm sure the audience would be perfectly content if we keep recycling this stuff for another decade, but the fact is, we as creative people need to move forward. We need to write new songs."

As it turns out, the music world -- fans included -- was more than ready to embrace the band's new album, Long Road Out of Eden.

The double disc, finally released in 2007, has sold more than four million copies around the world. One of the tunes, I Dreamed There Was No War, picked up a Grammy recently for best pop instrumental.

The band is touring again and many of its Canadian dates are sold out, including Friday's show at MTS Centre. Clearly, fans are keen to hear both the oldies and the new songs.

The Eagles are also the subject of a recent tell-all autobiography by ex-member Don Felder. Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles 1974-2001 is a mind-roasting account of his years in one of the most commercially successful rock bands of all time. Felder reveals hotel rooms were trashed, cocaine was hoovered in vast quantities and platoons of groupies were groped... and more. That's par for the course, but the animosity within the Eagles seems unusually toxic, even by rock 'n roll standards.

Felder's book, a collaboration with journalist Wendy Holden, is well-written and stuffed with telling details, many of them gory. To his credit, Felder makes an effort to be balanced. However, the key creative forces within the Eagles -- Henley and Glenn Frey -- come off as egomaniacal control freaks.

Felder calls them The Gods. While the Eagles were originally conceived as a democracy, with the five original members sharing equal ownership of Eagles Ltd., it eventually became a one-sided tug-of-war with Henley and Frey grabbing most of the rope.

Felder said when he started asking questions about the business side of the band, he was fired. After he got the boot, Felder sued Frey, Henley and Eagles Ltd. for wrongful dismissal. The two sides ultimately settled out of court. Felder won't say what he received.

While the Felder-less Eagles play sold-out arenas on their current tour, Felder himself now plays music mainly for love, not money, with the Don Felder Band. They play corporate events and fundraisers for charities.

-- Canwest News Service

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Eagles: By the Numbers

1971 -- Year in which Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner were backup singers for Linda Ronstadt. Following a tour, they formed their own group.

7 -- Incarnations of the Eagles, starting in 1971 through to current day. Don Henley and Glenn Frey have been in every version of the band. Original member Bernie Leadon left the group in 1975. Fellow original member Randy Meisner left the band in 1977. Don Felder joined the group in 1974 and left in 2001. Current bandmates Joe Walsh joined the group in 1975, while Timothy B. Schmit joined in 1977.

14 -- Years the band was "on vacation," according to Glenn Frey. The Eagles went their separate ways in 1980 and reunited in 1994 for their Hell Freezes Over tour.

37 -- Ranking of Hotel California in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

75 -- Ranking of the band in Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

1998 -- Year in which the Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

6 -- Grammy awards won by the Eagles, with their first coming in 1975 and their most recent in 2009.

29,000,000 -- Copies sold of Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975), making it the bestselling album in U.S. history. With 42,000,000 sales worldwide, it trails only Michael Jackson's Thriller and AC/DC's Back in Black.

2 -- The highest-charting position for a song by any of the band members during their solo careers. Don Frey scored a pair of No. 2s on the Billboard chart with The Heat Is On from the 1984 soundtrack for Beverly Hills Cop, and again with You Belong to the City from the 1985 soundtrack for Ghostbusters 2.

18 -- Albums released by the band .

5 -- No. 1 singles for the Eagles.

6 -- No. 1 albums for the band.

-- Canwest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 12, 2009 D1

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