View Full Version : Letter to Don Felder from fan

03-13-2009, 03:34 PM
Eagles friends, I posted a video of my Hotel California cover at youtube.com/ajmora. Enjoy!

Here's a long letter I wrote to Don - I have not yet mailed it as I don't have his address. Perhaps he'll read it here. I'll mail it to his management or publisher or someone at some point!

Here it is - it's very long...

Crown Point, Indiana
March 13, 2009

Dear Don Felder,

Iím a Don Felder fan, and this is just a fan letter about your book, your music, and life in general.

I am an extremely-blessed person. Iím 50 years old with a great wife, five great kids, and two grandchildren. Iím an MBA with a busy corporate career. And Iím a guitarist.

As for your book, Heaven and Hell, congratulations! Iíve probably read a thousand books (now that I stopped to think about it), and have read many books about music. H&H is one of my favorite books about music or any topic.

In addition to being a book about a band and the music industry, itís a very personal real-life adventure. Itís a fascinating journey from your modest childhood to talented young guitarist to music teacher to musical journeyman to studio stud to rock star to (successful!) litigant to author. Itís an intimate look at the extremely talented, successful, and tortuous Eagles; the long, hard dues unknown and famous musicians pay; the inspiration, work, and pain that goes into a song from songwriting and song selection to arranging, rehearsing, recording, mixing, to playing the song to live audiences around the world. Thatís a long process! You give a colorful picture of life on the road. You show the friendship and conflict that can occur among bandmates. You show the price paid by so many others directly or indirectly related to the band. You show how some women (mis)behave toward musicians.

What a ride! The book is more than worthy of the Eagles and you. Youíve done a Fantastic job!

As much as I admire the book, I admire your success as a musician far more. You know as well as anyone that being talented and being a successful musician are related-but-different things. Literally millions of hopefuls start out convinced theyíll ďmake it.Ē Thousands have enough talent. But an extremely small number actually succeed. It takes talent, courage, intelligence, versatility, knowledge of equipment (guitars, amps, pedals, mics, recording setups, etc.), discipline, the right looks, the ability to just function in musicís unusual environment, and plain old good luck. And you did it! Good for you!

Now, as much as I admire your career success, I admire your guitar playing vastly more. Being a guitarist, I noticed as the Eagles sound evolved from mellow crossover Country pop to higher and higher energy levels. When you joined, your slick, smooth, bendy, edgy guitar playing fit perfectly with what they already had, and was an instant lift to the Eagles. Then when it was announced that Joe Walsh had joined, I predicted you and he would be a fantastic combination that could take the Eagles energy up another level. And you did!

You did so many great things with the Eagles, but the greatest was your writing and soloing in Hotel California. That is one of the greatest tunes in rock history! You are a superstar.

For the fun, here are my guitar rankings.

Tied for number one are Hendrix, Clapton, and Santana.

Tied for number four are Prince, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Jimmy Page.

After those first six, I make no distinction in rank. I love many guitarists. Here they are as they come to mind in no particular order:

Don Felder, Duane Allman, Joe Walsh, John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, Mark Knopfler, Larry Carlton, Chet Catello, George Benson, Eddie Van Halen, Mark Farner, Alvin Lee, Chuck Berry, Terry Kath, John Lee Hooker, Paco De Lucia, Chet Atkins, Glenn Campbell, Earl Klugh, Skunk Baxter, Roy Clark, George Harrison, Keith Richards, Neal Schon, B.B. King, Dick Dale, Brian May, John Fogerty, Ritchie Blackmore, Steve Howe, Joni Mitchell, Johnny Winter, Edgar Winter, James Taylor, Dan Fogelberg, David Gilmore, Neil Young, Angus Young, Vernon Reid, Jorma Kaukonen, John Mayer, Joe Perry, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, and Gerry Beckley.

To me Gerry Beckley of America is the most under-rated of all these guitarists.

For the fun of it, here are guitarists that receive lots of recognition, but that Iím not so impressed by:

Jimmy Vaughan (I know many blues players from the Chicago area that I think are vastly better than him), Jeff Beck (Bores me. Tinkers around instead of getting on with it. The opposite of Don Felder.), Kirk Hammett (bores me), Jerry Garcia (bored me extremely), Buddy Guy (I saw him live in Chicago. Great showman, but lots of blues players bore me quickly. He did.), Les Paul (too busy for me, not enough patience, melody, and touch), Pete Townshend (good power rhythm player but not a strong lead player Ė not enough creativity, not enough runs, no memorable phrases, a bit scratchy and short on sustain, vibrato, and control), Andres Segovia (I know heís important historically in classical but I find his playing lacks passion).

Finally, here are four fantastic musicians from the Chicago area that are not well-known.

Phil Miller is a guitarist extraordinaire and the bluesiest/funkiest white guy (or otherwise) in the world. Can rock you till you drop too! Phil sings and plays a MONSTER version of Superstition that has to be heard to be believed. His playing/singing coordination are out of this world. And his body language is unassuming, moderate, but so balanced and from deep within Ė when he closes his eyes and plays he takes you to another universe. His most widely-known work was with a band named Sonia Dada headed by one of the Pritzker family. He's done lots of jingles including stuff for McDonalds and other big names. And heís an extremely intelligent dude who speaks more like a college professor than a musician.

In the mid-1980ís I saw guitarist/singer John Duich play lengthily many nights at jam sessions that were actually run by Phil Miller. Hendrix songs were covered the most, and John sang and played the best Hendrix covers I've ever heard hands down. He played Little Wing much better than Stevie Ray Vaughan, though Jimiís is my favorite. I heard he passed away a few years ago, but from an unreliable source.

Dave Alamillo has been the lead singer and guitarist of local Northwest Indiana Top-40 band Monterrey for over thirty years. Within his Top-40 work Dave is a good singer, and his guitar playing is clean and competent. And thatís all I thought he was for years. At a jam session one day in 1985 my impression of him was changed forever. It happened at Dannyís in Highland, Indiana, ten minutes from the South Side of Chicago, where jam sessions were held throughout the Ď80s. These were the sessions run by Phil Miller. Every Monday night it seemed Dannyís jam sessions were getting hotter and hotter, and this Monday felt like a climax. The club was packed with 50 great musicians and 200 patrons. This night an African American blues band from Chicago opened up, with Dave accompanying them as a second guitar. Canít remember the bandís name. I think Dave was old friends with the band, so they asked him to sit in. They had a singer, guitarist, organ (Hammond B-3 of course), bass, sax, and drummer. The group opened with some old blues standard. The singer was soulful and funny, and through the song he went around the stage having each player, except Dave, take a solo. Dave just kinda stood in the corner and smiled. Each solo built on the one before, and each verse took you to a new level. Finally to close, the singer nodded at Dave. Iíll never forget this moment in time. Phil Miller and I were chatting, commenting about what a good blues band they were. When Dave started playing, Phil and I stopped in mid-sentence to watch and listen to what was occurring onstage. Dave took the song all the way back to the first, simple lick of the first verse. The band followed him instinctively, getting very quiet. Dave repeated the theme a few times, each time enhancing it slightly, using body language to ask each player to accent something he was doing. A little pip there. A little squeak here. A hard accent. Two hard accents. Four super-hard accents. EIGHT ATOMIC ACCENTS. Then pandemonium. Dave let out 32 bars of higher and higher intensity solos to equal the most devastating Stevie Ray, Clapton, or Hendrix screams Iíd ever heard. The band ended with an exploding crescendo of freeform solos by all. The house fell apart. By now the dance floor and area around the stage were packed. 60-year-old blues guitarists shook Daveís hand. Some cooled him down with their hankies. Some wiped his brow. Others hugged Dave. Phil and I just nodded our heads and said, ďThat Dave is one bad Mo!Ē For the next four hours, no other guitarist dared follow Dave onstage. He kept laughing and trying to get off. But we wouldnít let him. Someone would hand him a beer and push him right back onstage. Dave was the only guitarist who played the rest of that long night. That night Dave covered some forty or fifty blues, jazz, and rock standards from Howliní Wolf to the Animals to Jeff Beck to Zeppelin. Daveís versatility was incredible. Power chords. Bends. Screams. Explosions. Beautiful melodies. Subtle phrases. Finger picking. Twangy Country. Jazz-chord melodies. Open string configurations. Altered tunings. Whammy bar pyrotechnics. Birds chirped. Lions roared. Boats, trains, planes, and sirens screamed. Never a missed chord. Never a sloppy fill. That night I realized what a talented and humble guy Dave is. What a musician!

Finally, bassist Joe Fuqua is a manager at Guitar Center in Merrillville, Indiana. I watched him at many a jam session play nonstop for hours with a string of HEAVY rockers, blues players, and jazz players and never miss a note. His forte is FUNK. Funk that would make your mom dance! To top this, Joe is a heavyweight live performer with body language that makes women go crazy. Iíve seen him take over a dance floor packed with beautiful women many times. Just another day at the office for this guy.

Somehow, these four exceptional talents are not world-famous. It defies all understanding and explanation.

So after discussing my favorite and not-so-favorite guitarists, I come back to Don Felder.

In all of music history, including all forms from classical to jazz to reggae to country to blues to folk to any international style, the most powerful, emotional music is rock. Not only that, rock is the most powerful form among all forms of entertainment including live theater, movies, bullfighting, or boxing. Rock is sonic and visual love, passion, and violence creatively and beautifully delivered. And guitar is by far the most powerful, emotional rock instrument. So to me, in all of human experience, listening to rock guitar at its best is the most powerful, beautiful experience. That is why I chose to play guitar.

You are no-doubt-about-it a virtuoso of this greatest of all instruments. Congratulations for being one MONSTER guitarist and thanks for giving your fans all those goose bumps all these years. Your playing will live forever and ever.

Now Iíll switch gears to your personal story, which is fascinating.

Of the many many books Iíve read, yours is the most personally revealing. You share candidly about your successes, mistakes, joys, and particularly your pains. I think if we put you on a relative emotional pain scale, you probably have experienced much more emotional pain than the average person. Given that, Iím going to focus on pain.

When discussing pain, hereís a story Iíve told many times. An Al Mora original.

If I could get into a time machine and go back to chat with myself at a younger age for one minute, I would visit myself at around age fourteen. And here is what I would say:
I have only one minute, so please listen carefully. I am here because I love you so much. I would not want to be anyone in the universe but you. No matter what you may experience, no matter what others may do to you, no matter how badly you may intentionally or unintentionally harm others, no matter how serious a mistake you might make, there is one thing I want you to promise. Promise that you will not worry. Every night of your life, let everything go. Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Take great care of yourself. Sleep peacefully. Every morning, promise yourself that no matter what is in store, youíre going to have the most beautiful day of your life. In your lifetime you will both succeed and fail so much more than you can begin to imagine, and you will feel joy and pain so much greater than you can begin to imagine at your age. I can not describe it for you. You must live it. However, though you may have difficulty believing this, the pain is under your control. Control it. You are so blessed. You are not cheated by any measure. You have stores of power you can not imagine. Life will expose this power to you. The power to learn. The power to survive. The power to work hard. The power to forgive. The power to love. Love yourself for exactly who you are. Love the world for exactly what it is. Be good as you can. Be happy every moment. Do not worry!

Don Felder, think about it. If you could go back to yourself at age 14, what would you tell yourself? If you think my message is a good one, that leads to the next twist.

What if my 80-year-old self appears to me tonight? I can guess what heíll say. Heíll say the same thing I said to my 14-year-old self above. ďBe good as you can. Be happy every moment. Do not worry.Ē And he would be right.

That is my message to you, Don Felder. I suggest you never, ever, ever let Glen Frye, Don Henley, your mistakes, your childrenís mistakes, the pain and sins of the world, or anything else get you down! You are so powerful! Use your power to control your pain. Convert your pain to peace and happiness. That is the least you owe yourself and everyone who cares about you.

~ ~ ~

Hereís who I am.

You can view my music videos, including one of Hotel California, at youtube.com/ajmora. You can listen to music, read our history, see photos, etc. on our web site, freeverseband.com.

I am a guitarist and I love to sing (though I wouldnít call myself a singer), and through the years Iíve steadily increased my focus on songwriting.

I started playing guitar at age fourteen and took it very seriously from the start. I tried to form my own band for years without success. Finally in 1980 I was discovered by Free Verse guitarist Mario Moreno. Mario had decided to leave the band and recommended me to replace him. I auditioned and fortunately was chosen to join.

I played five nights a week in three consecutive Chicagoland Top-40 nightclub bands (Free Verse, Big Apple Band, and Together) from 1980 to 1993 with no weeks off. In 1993 I alone revived the Free Verse band name and shifted focus to writing and recording originals. From 1997 to 2005 we lived in Southern California. Most Fridays and Saturdays I played for tips at the foot of Newport Pier in Newport Beach. During this time I started a music web site on mp3 which evolved to todayís web site.

In 2005 we moved from California back to Chicagoland. Samantha my 14-year-old daughter/singer and I play a few local shows a year. As you may see on our videos and web site, Samantha is a talented singer. Right now weíre working on recording a cover of the Carpenterís ďClose to You,Ē and a nice contemporary original I wrote for Samantha.

~ ~ ~

Groupies. Your book includes the familiar theme of wild flings between groupie-women and rock musicians. As you say, when women chase musicians, most musicians do not understand that they are being victimized. They foolishly go along, feeling that theyíre succeeding in some form. I never went for this. My parents taught me better. To me letting someone prey on you sexually is worse than letting them steal your money. Over thirteen years onstage I had two serious girlfriends, each at separate times. The second one is my lovely wife Barbara.

~ ~ ~

Drugs. Short and sweet. I believe in being physically and mentally fit. Period.

~ ~ ~

I was a very shy high school student who never dated. I was 23 years old when Free Verse hit the road in 1981. Suddenly Iím onstage all over the Midwest and lots of women like me. Every night I play my guitar like itís Woodstock. I jump all over the stage. I close my eyes with every solo. I grimace. I jump. I run. I jump on tables. I sweat. I rock. Iím bad. The crowd loves it, especially women. I come offstage and sign autographs. This is Heaven (without Hell)! One day weíre off the road, back in the Chicago area. I hear there are great jam sessions at Dannyís in Highland, Indiana. Theyíre held on Monday nights, when musicians are off. I, who am in a ďroad band,Ē am extremely excited to show off my chops to all these ďlocalĒ musicians. I get to the jam session early and Iím the first to sign up. Some local dude I never heard of named ďBillĒ Miller or something is the host. He opens up on guitar and sings and plays a short, simple little blues tune along with a mix of guys on second guitar, bass, electric piano, organ, sax, and drums. Phil calls out my name. I plug my Les Paul into my Mesa Boogie. The guys quickly hum an old Hendrix standard to me and teach me the chords. All Along the Watchtower. ďYeah, Iíve heard it. Iíve never played it, but I can pull it off,Ē I say with total confidence. And yes, I play the rhythm parts fine and weíre sounding better than that local dude Bill whatshisname and Iím warming up. Iím playing my rhythm part better each verse and now Iím hopping around the stage. The room is full of players whoíve filed in. I look at the audience and they donít look too excited. So I decide Iím going to blow their sox off, just like I do in Free Verse every night. My turn comes for a solo and I let it all hang out. I turn up my Mesa Boogie MarkIIB. I play nice juicy, thick Santana/Hendrix blues. Nice bends. Nice fast runs. Open string low notes combines with quick butterfly sweeps of minor seven and major nine chords, taking it slightly outside. A few hammer-ons for measure. Some helicopter and bomb action. Now Iím smiling ear to ear. Iím on the dance floor. Time for the big finish. I play some nice blues-scale-runs from low-E to the top of the neck. Slip a whole-note scale in on the way up to show some variety. We end with a wonderful flurry. Iím sweaty. Iím in Heaven (without Hell)!!! I open my eyes. All these musicians in the club are just chatting with each other, casually lighting cigarettes. I get light applause. Light applause! What the %#$ is going on here?

Bill whatshisname walks up and says, ďGood job! Keep on going dude!Ē ďNo thanks,Ē I say, confused. ďIím going to get a beer.Ē ďThatís fine,Ē says Bill, ďyou can come back later.Ē

I go sit at the bar, get a beer, and observe the whole scene. The guys I was up there with and a new guitarist start to play, and my musical education starts all over again. In fifteen seconds I get it. This next guitarist casually proceeds to sing and play absolutely devastating version of some old blues song. During the song, he smokes and plays with his cigarette without missing a chord. He tells a couple of jokes that bring down the house wile playing a solo with one hand, taking a puff on his cigarette, and placing it under the strings on the guitar head. He plays the chords to the song by swiping the mic stand against the guitar strings. He plays an incredible slide lead with the mic stand. Oh, look whoís up there with him? Bill whatshisname the host. Bill sings amazing backgrounds to this guys improvised lead vocals. He plays beautiful, tasty blues chords and every time itís time to turn around to get back to the beginning, Bill and this guitarist think of new chord progressions to get there. After that song ends, Bill steps up to mic. His body language is different. It is powerful, with total command. He calls out a song. The drummer clicks his sticks slowly four times. Off they go. The song is slow-tempo, sad. Truly bluesy. Phil plays the best blues guitar Iíve ever heard in my life, and he sings blues like heís dying in front of my eyes. He sings with so much feeling I cry. And for the rest of the night, a miracle occurs. Each guitarist who gets onstage is better than the last. Phil stops by several times to invite me back onstage. I say, ďAbsolutely not. I donít belong on the same stage with any of you guys.Ē And every half-hour or so, Phil sits in with a group and his singing and playing takes everyone to another, higher level. By the end of the night Iíve heard ten guitarists better than anyone Iíve heard in my life. Iím considering quitting my band. Iím considering quitting music. Iím very, very depressed!

Fast forward five years.

I walk into Dannyís on a Monday night. I have my good old Les Paul and Boogie. I set them up. Iím the first person there. I check in with Danny, the owner. I turn on the sound system. I place the sign up sheet and pen on a table at the front of the stage. The crowd of musicians starts to roll in. I welcome in all my musician friends as they walk in. Itís 9:00pm. I put on my guitar. I invite the first guitarist, bass player, organ player, sax player, and drummer to sign in onstage. They tune up. I get on the mic. ďTesting - Welcome to Dannyís in Highland on this beautiful Monday night. I am Al Mora, your host.Ē I proceed to keep the musicians organized as they make their way on and offstage. I tell a funny story or two I know about my fellow musician-warriors as they climb on and offstage. A few times during the night, if things get slightly too wild or too slow, I get onstage and do something to set the right mood. During the night, I sit in at various times. I make sure I play one one-hundredth of the chops I know. I save my thunder for other sessions. I look around at a room full of guitarists that Iíve learned so much from. And I feel comfortable that Iíve caught up with them. And I am truly in Heaven.

Long live rock guitar. God Bless.

03-13-2009, 04:02 PM
Well, Al, I don't know who you are other than what you wrote, but you took me there. Thanks.!!

DAMN! I just watched that "HC" YouTube performance! Pretty much blown away!

I've watched that about 43,000 times now! Why didn't I ever think of a capo on that song? Basically, you use the same progression, but I was doing it with bar chords (Bm, F#, A, Em, etc....)

Much easier with the capo on the 2nd fret! Then it becomes:

Am E G D F C Dm E for the verses (with a lifted first string on the "F" isn't it?)


F C E Am F C Dm E on the Chorus (I got that Dm right didn't I?)

03-13-2009, 04:52 PM
Great reading the point of view of another Felder fan.

03-13-2009, 05:34 PM
A very nice letter, but I think I'll move it to its own thread, to help folks find it. Al, I've also moved your YouTube posts to the Eagles YouTube thread in that forum.


P.S. I should also make clear that we have no official affiliation to Felder, so if you'd like to get this message to him, try his official MySpace at http://www.myspace.com/donfelder.

03-13-2009, 06:39 PM
Wow Sodascouts you're all over it! Thanks for keeping us organized and giving me Felder's info. I'll go there right now!

03-14-2009, 08:38 AM
I will play it without a capo live. I'll play the whole thing on acoustic, including the solos at some gigs. But usually I'll play the whole thing on electric. I'll play the verses clean with a short delay and light flange or medium chorus - I'll see.

MikeA: Here are the chords I play (I didn't check yours so you might be right)...


D (barred)
F9 (the 9 note is the open G on the sixth string)
D sus flat5 9 (E on 5 string [this is the 9] , G on 4 str [sus], Bflat on 3 str [flat 5], D on 2 str [tonic], G on 1 str [sus])
E flat major
B flat major
C minor

CHORUS ("Living it up at the Hotel...")
E flat major
B flat major
G minor
E flat major
B flat major
C minor

03-14-2009, 11:18 AM
I was WAY off <LOL> Thanks for the chords. I really did like your presentation of the song!

03-16-2009, 12:51 AM
Sorry I wrote F instead of D at the end of the two chord progressions. I remembered wrong when I first wrote it - I just noticed.

Now the progressions in my email above are really the ones I play in the video.:partytime:

03-25-2009, 10:25 PM
I think I omitted Jose Feliciano from my list of favorite guitarists.

Jose is in my big 7th place categroy with many other guitarists.

Jose is not only a powerful Latin/blues finger-picking monster, he's a sensational singer and even more sensational showman. Talk about energy!!

Blessings to all from Al! :angel:

03-26-2009, 10:55 AM
I had mis-spelled Dave's last name in my letter to Felder. I had to note that for the record.

05-29-2009, 11:07 AM
First, thanks sodascouts for your vigilant work as administrator, particularly your messages to me. Without your work, all of us Eagles fans could not enjoy this site.

MikeA you flattered me tremendously. I appreciate your kind complements about my Hotel California cover. It's my third-hottest cover video behind Samba Pa Ti and Black Magic Woman, both by Santana of course.

And Lisa, thanks for simply taking a moment to acknowledge your appreciation.

And finally and foremost, thanks to Don F., Don H., Glenn, Bernie, Randy, Timothy, and Joe. You are each virtuosos among virtuosos. You have each touched my heart as a listener and have had a huge influence on me as a songwriter, guitarist, and wannabe singer. I can honestly say I love each of you. Don't worry I'm a married man with five kids.

Well I must run. I just happened to get a five minute window at work and I finally wrote this thank you message. I've been meaning to write it a long time.

Your loyal Eagles-friend always,

Al Mora