How Don Felder Missed Out on Eagles’ ‘Victim of Love’
Eagles icon Don Felder recalled his disappointment at coming back from dinner to find that Don Henley had recorded the vocal track for the Hotel California song “Victim of Love,” even though the lead part had been promised to him.
He told Uncle Joe Benson on the Ultimate Classic Rock Nights radio show that he remembered having written 14 or 15 song ideas in his “little back bedroom” for what was to become one of the greatest rock albums of all time.
“I put ‘em on a cassette, gave copies to everybody in the band, and the two that Don and Glenn [Frey] liked the most were ‘Hotel California’ and that track ‘Victim of Love,’” Felder said. "So we sat down with Don and Glenn and myself and J.D. Souther and we wrote the lyrics … and J.D. said, ‘There’s something about the word “victim” in a sentence. I like that word, “victim” – I think that’s a good hook for a song.’”
The next question was “What are we victims of?” Felder continued, “I think Henley said, ‘Victim of love.’ So that became the title of the song.” Unusually, the instrumental track was recorded with all five Eagles playing live together. “If you look on the vinyl of Hotel California, it’s etched into the vinyl inside… ‘V.O.L. is five piece live,’” he noted.
The vocal work was to be done in Criteria Studios in Florida. “When we got to Miami, originally I was supposed to sing it,” Felder recalled. “I went out and set up a mic. I hadn’t even seen the finished lyrics until that day. I wasn’t feeling comfortable with it, wanted some more time to work on it. While I went to dinner, I think Don went out and sang it, just as a demo for me to hear how he heard it; and when I came back and heard it, it was great.”
He admitted he was "really upset because we were supposed to everybody have a song on that record… and I was told I was going to be able to sing that. … When I listen to it now, Don did a great job on it.”
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