Whether it’s a car or a love, they say you never forget your first, and that’s certainly the case for Don Felder and his first guitar.
In a recent chat with the former Eagles guitarist, Felder reflects on that guitar and the role fireworks played in getting it:
“I remember seeing ‘The Ed Sullivan Show,’ and Elvis Presley was on, and it was like his first/debut [performance], and they only showed him from the waist up. But I saw all of these women screaming at him and girls crying, and I went, ‘I think I’d like to do that! That looks like a lot of fun!’
So, I had come back from North Carolina visiting my favorite uncle, and he had smuggled a box of cherry bombs into the trunk of my dad’s car for my brother and I to play with. So, we were out one day playing with these cherry bombs, and the kid across the street came over and said, ‘I want some of those cherry bombs!’ And I said, ‘Well, I’ll give you a handful of these cherry bombs if you give me that old guitar in the top of your closet.’
He ran and got it, and it had a crack in it, and it was missing three strings. I had no idea how to tune it or anything. There was no music store in town. So, I went down to the drug store that sold guitar strings, and I think the three strings were like 25 cents a piece or something. I had been saving Coke bottles and mowing lawns until I could get enough money to buy to buy the three missing strings.
I went down and bought those strings and put them on the guitar, and there was another guy around the corner who knew how to tune it and had played this song called ‘Red River Valley.’ So, he showed me how to play ‘Red River Valley,’ and I was just gone!
After that, I was on my way with this cracked, broken up cheesy guitar, but it wasn’t the instrument; it was just how much it had impacted me to want to play music.”
Erica Banas is a rock/classic rock reporter who never leaves home without her iPod, because to her, there’s something very comforting about carrying around every piece of music she’s ever owned in her life.