High flyin’ Eagles guitarist Don Felder goes solo with his “Bad Girls,” playin’ those little games

By on April 3, 2019

In Night Flight’s “Take Off to Body Language” — which originally aired on August 3, 1984, and you can now find streaming on Night Flight Plus — announcer Pat Prescott tells us, “it’s not the medium, but the message that counts.”

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Given that, we’re not exactly sure what to make of the message in former Eagles guitarist Don Felder’s first single, “Bad Girls,” which appears on Felder’s first solo album, 1983’s Airborne.

Bad girls, lookin’ so good
Love it when they talk that way
They keep you up, they keep you up all night long
Just to play those little games they play
Bad girls, they like it

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Felder appears as a kind of stalkerish creep in the video, which was directed by Tim Newman, cousin of Randy Newman, who appears in the video towards the end.

The video also features a couple of hot blonde and brunette babes, breakdancing black teens and Cheech & Chong’s Cheech Marin.

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“Bad Girls” — which Felder had originally called “Wild Turkey” when he wrote it with Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh during an all-night drinking session — had first been offered to his former band for The Long Run.

His solo single barely made charted, though, peaking at #103.

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Writing about his best-selling autobiography, Heaven and Hell: My life with the Eagles (1974-2001), Felder says he knew his first solo album was bound to bring up comparisons to the Eagles, which is why he chose the title Airborne, “to signify that this Eagle wasn’t grounded.”

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Felder worked on the album for over a year, playing all the guitars and — despite never singing with the Eagles — he sang all the lead vocals.

He converted the guesthouse of his Malibu home into Radical Studios, a full-blown recording facility with a 24-track console, piano and a drum room.

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Felder also invited Chicago’s James Pankow and Lee Loughnane, former Fleetwood Mac/Traffic guitarist Dave Mason, Kenny Loggins, ex-Eagles bandmate Timothy B. Schmidt and others to play on the record.

His song “Still Alive” was his commentary and his personal journey through life with the Eagles and his relationship with wife Susan, while  “Who Tonight?” was about infidelity.

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Another song, “Night Owl,” was in the tried-and-true tradition of rockers writing about their hedonistic lifestyle.

The Eagles’ infamous “E3″ (third encore) backstage parties had basically been organized binge-drinking sex orgies, about which Felder writes he was “living in the darkness and going to bed when the sun comes up, a statement on the slithering, intoxicated nights we had allowed to devour us.”

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Read more about Don Felder below.

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There must have been something in the water in Gainesville, Florida, where Don Felder was  born & raised, as it was also home to Duane and Gregg Allman, Tom Petty and Stephen Stills.

Felder —  nicknamed “Fingers” for his fretboard skills — gave Petty guitar lessons, just as Duane had taught him slide guitar.

Felder had long been a guitar-playing pal of Bernie Leadon’s from Florida, which is how he got the invited to audition for the Eagles in the first place.

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At the time, he was playing with Crosby & Nash, earning $1500 a week as a guitar-slingin’ sideman for hire.

In 1974, when Felder was invited to become the already platinum-selling L.A. band’s “new kid in town,” the band — Felder, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, bassist Randy Meisner (later replaced by Timothy B. Schmidt), and multi-instrumentalist Bernie Leadon (later replaced by Walsh) — had decided to form their own Eagles Ltd. corporation.

All five members would own 20% each of the company’s merchandise sales, touring receipts, etc.

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Back on American soil after having previously ceded some control to British producer Glyn Johns in London for their first two albums, the Eagles were now preparing to record songs for their third, On the Border.

After two albums full of homogenized West Coast country rock, new producer Bill Szymczyk at the Record Plant in NYC was going to help get them back to being a rock band again.

During his tryout, Felder had jammed on the song that became “Good Day in Hell,” and other songs like “Already Gone” were soon bolstered by the addition of his harder-edged lead guitar.

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One of the first songs Felder brought to the Eagles was a little riff he submitted to Frey and Henley on cassette tape, which they listened to for any hint of a song they could turn into something the rest of the band could play.

Usually these repetitive little riffs were nothing more than Felder playing instrumental hooks, but occasionally he struck upon something that struck gold.

One of those was a reggae-influenced track he’d decided to call “Mexican Bolero,” which Frey & Henley then re-wrote, turning it into “Hotel California.”

Felder would also co-write “Take It to the Limit,” “One of These Nights,” and “Victim of Love,” among other tracks.

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Post-Eagles, Felder would get a little side career going, contributing songs to the soundtracks of several hip movies, including 1981’s Heavy Metal — his theme song “Heavy Metal (Takin’ a Ride)” just missed the Top Forty, peaking at #43, and he also contributed “All of You” — and 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High (“Never Surrender,” written with Kenny Loggins).

In 1985, a few years after the release of his solo album Airborne, Felder contributed one track each to three movie soundtracks: The Slugger’s Wife, Secret Admirer, and Cheech & Chong’s third movie, Nice Dreams.

Felder also appeared on “FTV,” a rock-oriented sketch comedy show parodying music videos.

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Watch Night Flight’s” Take Off to Body Language” on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.