Born in 1947, Don Felder grew up in Gainesville, Florida. Like many kids his age, he was inspired to play rock and roll music after seeing Elvis Presley on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1956. By the age of 15, he had started the Continentals with future member of Buffalo Springfield, Stephen Stills, who was eventually replaced by future member of the Eagles, Bernie Leadon.
Felder had the good fortune of learning to play slide guitar from Duane Allman, as well as the distinction of giving fellow Gainesville native, Tom Petty, guitar lessons. By 1970, he had become an accomplished guitar player and moved to New York City to seek out a career in music.
After three years in New York, Felder moved to Los Angeles and was immediately in demand due to his musical versatility and mastery of several styles. Due both to his reputation and musical history with Bernie Leadon, Felder was invited to join the Eagles in 1974.
His contributions to One of These Nights, his second album with the band, were crucial in developing a more straightforward rock sound as the group moved away from their earlier country influences. This sound culminated in the Eagle’s 1976 international bestseller, Hotel California. Felder not only composed the music for the title track, but also performed the iconic guitar solos with bandmate Joe Walsh. Their performance at the end of the song is often argued to be the greatest rock guitar solo of all time. Felder would go on to record one more album with the Eagles before undertaking a solo career.
Felder’s guitar playing has defined classic rock. His compositions and musical acumen have left a permanent mark on popular music. After numerous number-one hits and many multiplatinum albums, Felder’s legacy was cemented in 1998 when he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with the rest of the Eagles.