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Being in a band with three guitar players, one thing you need to do is learn to make each guitar voice sound separate and identifiable.
Being on the road has about 2 1/2 hours a day that are really great, and that's when you're onstage. The other 21 1/2 hours are very boring... It becomes like a void, and we chose to fill it with all the wrong things.
Don't forget, Stephen Stills and I had a band in Gainesville called the Continentals when we were 15. And, of course, you had Lynyrd Skynyrd in Jacksonville.
Early on, one of my favorites was Ray Charles. I remember hearing 'I Can't Stop Loving You' in the early '60s and thinking, 'What an unbelievably soulful voice.' In those days, the Deep South was extremely segregated.
For every album we worked on, I brought in reels of tape of somewhere between fourteen and eighteen songs - some of them completed, with lyrics and melodies, some of them basic tracks. Things came out of those products. Like, for 'Hotel California', I think I had a reel with sixteen songs on it.
I especially enjoyed some of the old hairstyles, with my hair down to my shoulders and a beard. And Henley's nickname used to be 'Furry Basketball' because he had that fro. It was fun to just look at what was going on in that era and how we presented ourselves on stage.
I graduated from high school at 165 pounds, so twice a year, I get back to that number - I never let it get to 172-73. Then I go back to doubling the cardio. This week, I'm on a complete liquid diet, a juice fast. It keeps me lean and hungry.
I never challenged control of the band. Basically, all I did was start asking questions. There's an old adage in Hollywood amongst managers: 'Pay your acts enough money that they don't ask questions.' And I started asking questions.
I think Don Henley is a brilliant contemporary rock writer. He would have been a fabulous poet if he weren't a musician. He was a literary major, and not only that - he's gifted with a brilliant voice. To me, Don could sing the New York City Yellow Pages and I'd buy it. I just love the sound of his voice.
I was constantly in the studio at my home writing ideas that would later become 'Hotel California' or 'Victim of Love.
I would say 'Bye Bye Love' is one of my favorite influential songs to this day, and ironically, they were so in sync with their harmonies that they sounded like one person. That approach to hearing and formulating harmonies stuck in my head, so when I joined the Eagles, my ear was trained to be able to hear a vocal that way.
I've known those guys for decades and done some charity fundraisers with them in L.A. The response was so great from the Boston/Doobies/Felder package.
If I had a pull on 'One of These Nights,' on the first high note on 'One of These Nights,' that was just a tiny hair flat or something, I could just feel Henley's eyes scouring into the back of my head. No mistakes were allowed, and it really kept the quality at a high level.
My story, is how a kid that's born into really destitute poverty on a little dirt road in Florida winds up in one of the largest bands in history.
One of the songs we recorded for 'The Long Run' was called 'You're Really High, Aren't You?' Which never really made it onto a record, but later on, it became 'Heavy Metal.' I took that track that wasn't used, and when I was invited to write a song for that movie, I took that track and recorded that song for that movie.
Shortly after I moved to Los Angeles, I was looking for work, and I happened to be invited to Ray's studio and sat in and played on a couple of his demos. I didn't charge him a dime for it. I was on cloud nine to be working in the same room as Ray Charles, one of my huge idols.
That last record I did, I think I played every guitar on the entire record. I want to do something more fun and exciting.
There was no call from anybody in the band to discuss any of the things that had been a problem or what I had done wrong.
There were about 400 heads of state from countries all over the world. I walked out and played 'Hotel California,' and everybody in the place gave me a standing ovation, and half of those countries don't even speak English.
Tom Petty was one of my guitar students; I knew Duane, and Stephen and I had a band. When he left, Bernie Leadon moved to Gainesville. His father was a nuclear physicist who was sent to the University of Florida to start their nuclear research facility, so he and I became friends.
When I first left the Eagles, I said, 'That's it. I'm going to play golf.' After 10 days, it was like... there has to be more to life! I can still swing a golf club, and don't forget, Les Paul played until he literally passed away.
When the band first formed, everybody had been sidemen. So they said, 'In this band there are no sidemen,' and when I joined the band, it was still the same. There were some power struggles emerging, because Henley and Frey had sung all the hits at that point.
When you got on the private plane, you had your own private lounge where you could close the door. So there wasn't a lot of friendly conversation; we were in incubators by ourselves. That just bred a void - avoid each other, and avoid the issues.
Within a twelve or fourteen month period, I went through a divorce from my wife of 29 years, which is devastating emotionally and earthshaking as far as your whole world being turned upside-down. And within that same twelve month period, I left the Eagles.
As a kid, I had my head under the hood of a car, either an old Ford or a Chevrolet, just learning about it so if anything happened, I could repair it.
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