The Day the Eagles Fired Don Felder

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The Eagles’ lineup has changed several times over the years, but none has shaken the band as much as guitarist Don Felder’s departure. Felder was fired from the Eagles on February 6, 2001, igniting a chain of events from which his relationship with the other musicians would never recover.

Don Felder is an American musician and songwriter best known for his work as a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter with the Eagles. Felder joined the Eagles in 1974 and remained with the band for 27 years. Felder joined the band in 1974 and had an immediate impact on the group, which was transitioning from the country-rock stylings of their early hits to a more rock-edged sound.

After a bitter wage dispute and creative tensions with other band members, Don Felder was fired from The Eagles in 2001. Felder claimed that the other band members had purposefully excluded him from the band’s earnings, resulting in a lawsuit.

Felder, like Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner before him, left the band, and co-founders Glenn Frey and Don Henley simply carried on as the Eagles. Even when they began inviting former members back for the History of the Eagles tour in 2013-15, Felder was pointedly left out.

Don Felder contributed to the Eagles’ success as both a songwriter and a member of the band. Some of the band’s biggest hits, including “Hotel California” and “Victim of Love,” were written by him. Felder’s guitar playing was an important part of the Eagles’ sound, contributing to their distinct blend of rock, country, and folk music. He was also an important part of their live performances, frequently playing lead guitar. Felder’s contributions to the Eagles’ success aided the band’s ascension to the status of one of the most successful bands of all time.

Felder overcame a tumultuous breakup and a lengthy hiatus to take part in a surprising reunion and the Eagles’ Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction. Felder began to question Frey’s and Henley’s roles as band leaders, specifically how they divided the Eagles’ finance. He was dissatisfied with Henley and Frey’s dominance in the band, as well as the fact that, under the terms of the reunion, he was no longer an equal financial partner in the Eagles.

Felder was fired due to Henley and Frey’s decision, and he responded by suing them for wrongful termination, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. After several years of legal wrangling, the case was settled out of court, and the terms were never disclosed.

Felder’s suit alleged wrongful termination, breach of contract, and breach of fiduciary duty. The filing described a work environment dominated by “constant threats that if Felder did not agree with Henley and Frey, Felder would be ‘thrown out’ of the band.” Felder claimed he could not be fired or voted out because he was originally brought in as a full partner. Henley, Frey, and Azoff responded by citing a clause in the agreement that specified circumstances under which partners could be terminated.

Felder’s tell-all book about his time with the Eagles was later delayed by two years as a result of a lawsuit filed by Henley and Frey to try to halt its release. When Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles was finally released in 2009, it gave a damning portrayal of Henley and Frey as power- and money-crazed dictators who ruled the Eagles with an iron fist and set up shady schemes to keep as much of the revenue generated for themselves as they could.

Six years after Felder was let go, the civil matters had been resolved amicably. Neither party made the conditions public. Since 2001, he has never communicated with any band members. Felder claims he wishes he had the power to change the circumstance. While talking with Ultimate Classic Rock in 2013, he said.

“I’m a firm believer that people that have been such a substantial part of your life should not be slashed out. People that are good people, I like to keep in my life. I have reached out numerous times to the Eagles, directly and indirectly, with a warm handshake — not asking for anything, just conciliatory well-wishes — and the only response I’ve ever heard is from their lawyers. So I would say that’s a place they’ll have to arrive to on their own, if ever.”

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