“In 1969, when I moved from Gainesville to New York City, the very first thing I did was go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and spend the entire day,” the guitarist tells The Post. “Gainesville doesn’t have a museum. There’s no culture, there’s no art, there’s no classic painting or sculptures, nothing. So when I got there, I was so starved to see that stuff.”
Now visitors to the Met can see some of Felder’s stuff — specifically, the white, double-neck Fender guitar he played on stage for “Hotel California,” on loan from the Rock Hall as part of the Met’s “Play it Loud: The Instruments of Rock and Roll” exhibit. Felder, who’ll perform Saturday at the Patchogue Theater on Long Island, says, “For the Met to include that hanging on the walls to this day might be the most impressive accolade of my career.”
It’s a career that began in the late ’60s in Florida and took him to worldwide superstardom in 27 years with the Eagles — the band’s “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)” is the best-selling album of all time. His focus now is his solo career, with Felder releasing his debut record, “Road to Forever,” in 2012 and his sophomore effort, “American Rock ‘n’ Roll,” in April.
The title track, with lines like “Smoke and acid in our heads/ everybody’s tripping to the Grateful Dead” and name-drops everyone from Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana to Slash and Tommy Lee, is “more like a musical rockumentary.”
“The song came to me as I was reflecting on being at Woodstock in 1969 and seeing Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin and the Grateful Dead and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and all those amazing acts that were playing,” he says. “I was just one of the 400,000 soaked, mud-covered people in the audience, but the impression it left on me was really a lifelong experience. Woodstock, to me, was the largest-scale musical explosion on the planet, to tell you the truth, it kind of went global.”
Felder expresses that love for rock of all stripes with the help of the album’s impressive guest list: Sammy Hagar, Slash, Peter Frampton, Joe Satriani, Richie Sambora, Orianthi, Mick Fleetwood, Chad Smith (of Red Hot Chili Peppers), Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Alex Lifeson (Rush) and Toto’s David Paich and Steve Porcaro.
“[Sambora] and I were recording in his kitchen,” Felder says of the former Bon Jovi guitarist, “and Orianthi came walking down the staircase. I completely forgot that Richie and Orianthi were together. I said, ‘Orianthi, you got to get a guitar and come play on this.’ She had just got out of bed, had a baseball hat on and T-shirt and cutoff shorts and some flip-flops, and she got a guitar and just tore it to pieces. I think it may be one of my favorite solos on the record.”
Lifeson, who does charity events with Felder for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, was another enthusiastic six-string contributor.
“I had known from [Rush drummer] Neal Peart months before they publicly announced they weren’t going to be touring anymore as Rush, and I knew Alex was just sitting around bored to tears,” Felder says. When Felder asked him to play on the album, the Canadian said, “Absolutely!” Felder says he told him to “just show up with your rock star stuff” and “be you.”
A question about Felder’s experience singing lead vocals reveals some of the secret sauce that made his run with the Eagles so special.
“I was always one of the singers in all of my bands before the Eagles. There were so many great singers when I joined the band, I was very happy to take a supporting role singing harmonies,” he says. “And I’m telling ya, Don Henley, in my opinion, is one of the best vocalists in rock ‘n’ roll today, and has been. I would listen to him sing the New York phone book. The one thing we tried to do was put the strongest players in the strongest positions. My strength was really writing and guitar. Compared to Don Henley, my vocals weren’t strong, and at the same time I wouldn’t expect Don Henley to play lead guitar on ‘Hotel California’ — it’s not his forte.”
While Felder is clearly proud of his new material — and has started work on more songs — he says he thinks “a mistake a lot of artists make is they put so much new material in their live show that people are somewhat disappointed. They come to see what they know you as.”
“By the end of the evening, the last five to six songs, everybody in the place is up on their feet, they’re dancing, they’ve got their iPhones out and making videos. It’s a big, fun, rock ‘n’ roll party,” he says. “I play enough songs that I either co-wrote, recorded or toured with the Eagles for 27 years where they get their fill of what they’ve come to expect, like ‘Life in the Fast Lane,’ ‘Heartache Tonight’ and of course ‘Hotel California’ and really old stuff like ‘Tequila Sunrise’ and ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling.’ …
“I try to play enough stuff that’s diverse in my show to make the audience happy and feel like they got what they wanted out of the show. And that’s really what an entertainer is supposed to do.”
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