How Don Felder Pushed Eagles Into Rock on ‘Already Gone’
By 1974, Eagles were an ascendant country-rock band with a handful of hits to their name. But with their third album, On the Border, and its driving lead single "Already Gone," they began courting the rock AM-radio market they so desperately wanted to win over.
"Already Gone" was cowritten by Jack Tempchin, who previously gifted the band its hit single “Peaceful Easy Feeling.” The souped-up rock anthem is built around a rousing guitar riff from the band's newest member, Don Felder, and his and Glenn Frey's dueling solos.
In pursuit of a harder rock sound, Eagles had previously invited Felder to play slide guitar on another On the Border track called "Good Day in Hell" at the behest of current guitarist Bernie Leadon, who was a more country-oriented player. Felder and Leadon were childhood friends, and he had jammed with the band in 1972 when it came to Boston as the opening act for Yes.
Eagles were so impressed by Felder's fretwork on "Good Day in Hell" that they invited him to join the band the next day.
"They wanted to shift from country music to something that could be played on AM radio," Felder told Classic Rock Revisited in 2012. "In the ‘70s, AM radio had to be a rock track or a dance track or a drippy ballad. They had hits like 'Peaceful Easy Feeling' and 'Take It Easy,' but they really wanted more rock 'n' roll."
Felder's only other On the Border contribution was "Already Gone." He is credited as a "late arrival" in the album's liner notes.
Listen to Eagles' 'Already Gone'
"Already Gone" also marked one of the first On the Border songs Eagles recorded after relocating from London to their native Los Angeles and ditching producer Glyn Johns for Bill Szymczyk. The change in atmosphere was immediately evident.
"I had a very strained relationship with Glyn Johns," Glenn Frey wrote in the liner notes to 2003's The Very Best Of compilation. "He was so intimidating, I was always afraid to be forthright and tell him what I thought. ... I was much more comfortable in the studio with Bill, and he was more than willing to let everyone stretch a bit. 'Already Gone' — that's me being happier; that's me being free."
Released in April 1974, "Already Gone" peaked at No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 — no small feat, but one that paled in comparison to On the Border's third single, the chart-topping ballad "Best of My Love." Still, "Already Gone" set the stage for Eagles' new, harder-rocking direction, which they would further pursue to astonishing success on One of These Nights and Hotel California, the latter of which also featured guitarist Joe Walsh.
"When Joe and I joined, we brought another element to the band that really helped propel them into rock 'n' roll, which took them to a level that the previous Eagles were unable to attain," Felder told Classic Rock Revisited. "We all created something far bigger than any of us would have ever been able to accomplish by ourselves."