Styx & Don Felder take the stage at The Venetian
One highlight of the 2014 classic rock concert circuit was the teaming of Foreigner, Styx and former Eagles guitarist Don Felder for the Soundtrack of Summer Tour, with Felder turning in exuberant, inspired performances. The composer of “Hotel California” stood center stage during each show to perform the dark, desert highway chord progression to The Eagles’ biggest hit on his iconic double neck guitar with Styx’s Tommy Shaw on co-lead vocals. Felder returned the favor by performing “Blue Collar Man” with Styx, cementing a relationship that rises to the next level when both acts return to Las Vegas for the five-date engagement at The Venetian, Styx & Don Felder: Renegades In The Fast Lane.
The 69-year-old musician says he’s maintained inspiration and a positive outlook since he first fell in love with guitars. “I started playing music when I was 10 years old, and I got absolutely addicted to the ability to write, sing and play music and to have fun doing it,” says Felder. “The people in the audience dance and have a great time. People listen, the records have an impact. They remember those songs. They know exactly where they were when they first heard those songs. To go out onstage and perform for these people is the highlight of my day, if not week or year.”
Felder’s relationship to Styx dates back to 2006 when Shaw played with him at a Hurricane Katrina benefit Felder organized. Shaw later contributed backing vocals to Felder’s 2012 album Airborne, and Felder signed with Styx’s manager Charlie Brusco, who came up with the idea to put the acts on the same bill. “We had so much fun just hanging out, playing together,” says Felder, who hit the golf courses with members of Styx on days off. “It was probably one of the most fun tours, onstage or offstage. Every two or three weeks we’d have a big dinner with about 90 people, parties at a bowling alley. We just had a lot of fun together, so when this opportunity came up to play The Venetian in January I jumped at it.”
Although mainly known for being The Eagles’ guitarist at the height of the band’s power and popularity, Felder’s uplifting musical experiences date back to his days as a working-class kid in Gainesville, Fla., where he played in a band with Stephen Stills, gave Tom Petty guitar lessons, was introduced to slide guitar techniques by Duane Allman and played in a band with future Eagles founding guitarist Bernie Leadon. Leadon introduced Felder to The Eagles when the band began to move its country-rock sound in a harder direction, but rock-fan Felder and country-minded Leadon had blended their sounds years before.
Felder was let go from The Eagles in 2001. Litigation followed, but Felder thought there would be an eventual reconciliation with singer-guitarist Glenn Frey, who died in January. Now he’s the only Eagle bringing “Hotel California” to the fans. “I love to play. I loved to play before The Eagles, during The Eagles and after The Eagles,” says Felder. “There are a lot of people who have talent that don’t get to do what I do, and I get to do this as much as I can physically stand, because it brings me more joy in my life than just about anything.”
The Venetian, 8 p.m. Jan. 6-7, 11 & 13-14, starting at $59.95 plus tax and fee. 702.414.9000