Felder is still striking a balance 

click to enlarge Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles, has released the country-rock recording "Road to Forever," his first in decades.
  • Don Felder, formerly of The Eagles, has released the country-rock recording "Road to Forever," his first in decades.

From Alison Ellwood's recent in-depth Showtime documentary, "The History of The Eagles," one truth emerges — the only member of the notorious, hard-partying California supergroup who escapes virtually unscathed is guitarist Don Felder.

He's shown gleefully guitar-dueling live with Joe Walsh and composing the opening filigree and chiming coda for the band's signature smash, "Hotel California."

But when he stalks offstage in 1980 after a politically charged argument with frontman Glenn Frey, he hops into a waiting limo and basically never looks back, effectively splintering the band.

Felder, 65, has returned with the sophomore solo salvo "Road to Forever," his first in 31 years, which he's backing in Saratoga on Thursday.

And although he rejoined The Eagles for their 1994 "Hell Freezes Over" MTV concert and subsequent tour, the enforced camaraderie didn't work.

"We had a charter plane that had five different staterooms," he says of second edition of The Eagles. "We had five cars that drove us to the hotels, and five different dressing rooms backstage. The theory was that if we weren't in each other's faces, we could avoid the same stress we'd had before, but it did the exact opposite by isolating everybody. And no communication eventually led to my departure in 2001."

How did the man stay sane?

"I was the only guy in The Eagles that was married," he explains. "And I always likened being in a rock band to being an actor, going onstage. You put on your makeup and wardrobe backstage, you go out and hit your marks, but then you take that costume off. So I didn't live the lifestyle offstage. I went home to my wife and kids and tried to stay as normal as I could."

It rubbed off — his youngest daughter, Leah Felder-Jenner, has her own hit-bound duo, Brandon and Leah, with Bruce Jenner's son Brandon Jenner. "They're on that Kardashian show, and they were No. 4 on iTunes last week," Dad says proudly.

Felder has stayed happily busy. Gibson has meticulously recreated two Don Felder "Hotel California" signature model guitars, down to the last lacquer scratch and capo stain.

After 2001, he sought to center himself through meditation, and he began jotting down wild life recollections that morphed into an autobiography, "Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001)."

In his casual country-rock style, Felder continues his self-reflection on "Road to Forever" in "Life's Lullaby," "Fall From Grace" and the title track. And his philosophy hasn't changed.

"Now when I plan my solo touring route, I'll work on the road for 10 days, and then come home for 10 days," he says. "I really try and strike a balance between my personal and professional life."


Don Felder

Opening for Styx

Where: Mountain Winery, 14831 Pierce Road, Saratoga

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday

Tickets: $49.50 to $99.50

Contact: (408) 741-2822, www.axs.com

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Tom Lanham

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