Behind the Don Felder, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey Feuds and Lawsuits

Some bands’ infighting became as much, if not more, a part of their history as the music itself. This is the situation with the Eagles, a rock band from Los Angeles. Linda Ronstadt established the Eagles in 1971 when she hired drummer Don Henley and songwriter Glenn Frey as supporting musicians. Henley and Frey decided to start their own band while on tour. Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, who were close to Ronstadt and performed with her at the time, were also on the bill. Don Felder then joined the band in 1974. Felder, who was born in Florida, was the group’s lead guitarist from 1974 to 2001. However, he was fired in 2001. Why? We’ll get started down below. 1974: The Beginning Felder was brought in for a recording session with the Eagles in 1974 to add guitar to a couple of tracks. Felder was requested to join the band as a full-fledged member not long after, when the band transitioned from its country twang, slide-guitar approach to more rock. Not long later, in 1975, Leadon, who had introduced Felder to the band, notoriously left the band while pouring beer over Frey’s head. Hotel California, 1976 Hotel California was the band’s debut album with their new configuration, released in 1976.

It was a worldwide success and is still popular today. And who composed the title track? Felder, Henley, and Frey as a group. Felder composed the melody, while the other two composed the words. Felder also performs the famous guitar solo. Among the band’s many hits, this is the most well-known. However, the record provoked an internal uproar when the band removed Felder’s vocals from his composition “Victim of Love” while he was out to dinner with the band’s manager, Irving Azoff. Felder never forgave the band for this and began referring to Henley and Frey as “The Gods.” 1980: Dangers. The Long Run, the band’s next album, was a commercial triumph but not a critical success. Fissures in the group began to form and widened. Members were yelling at each other onstage during one event in 1980, which was a political fundraiser that Felder didn’t want to be a part of. “Only three more songs until I kick your ass, pal,” Frey allegedly said to Felder. “I’m gonna kick your ass when we get off the stage,” Felder allegedly overheard Frey say. It was their first show in 14 years. Despite these obstacles, Eagles Live was released in November 1980. However, Frey had already quit the band by this point. The Eagles were disbanded from 1980 to 1994, when they reformed and have practically been going ever since.

In 2001, there were lawsuits. On February 6, 2001, Felder was fired by the Eagles. He did not, however, leave peacefully. Instead, he initiated numerous lawsuits against the band, as well as Henley, Frey, and others. His qualm? Termination without cause and breach of contract. He was seeking $50 million in restitution. Felder claimed in the action that Frey and Henley “insisted on receiving a higher percentage of the band’s profits…” than he and the other members, despite the arrangement previously being an equitable split. Felder claimed Frey and Henley persuaded him to sign the contract, which stipulated that Henley and Frey would be paid three times as much as the other members for the album Selected Works: 1972-1999, which was published in 2000. Felder was counter-sued by Henley and Frey for breach of contract and writing the “tell-all” book Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001). The case was scheduled for trial in September 2006, however it was dismissed in 2007 after an out-of-court settlement was struck.

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