When Don Felder grew weary of limited musical opportunities in the Boston area and having to work odd jobs to support his family in 1973, he and his wife sold most of the furniture and other items in their duplex by the cemetery in Hingham, where they’d been living for a couple years.

When Don Felder grew weary of limited musical opportunities in the Boston area and having to work odd jobs to support his family in 1973, he and his wife sold most of the furniture and other items in their duplex by the cemetery in Hingham, where they’d been living for a couple years.

He’d decided to take a friend’s advice and head to California, and before long that led to a spot in the Eagles.
 
Felder, whose years in the multi-platinum band ended with his controversial firing in 2001, returns to the area Tuesday, when Borders in Braintree hosts a book signing at 7 p.m. for Felder’s “Heaven and Hell: My Life in the Eagles (1974-2001).”

The Eagles latest reunion tour hits the TD Banknorth Garden in Boston July 28 and 30.

“I know it sounds like a funny coincidence, but I didn’t plan it that way,” Felder says. “I do a lot of charity work and appearances, and it just so happened that I’m going to be playing golf in a pro-am on the North Shore, for Boomer Esiason’s charity, that week.

“So I told the book publicists, as long as I’m out there on the East Coast I might as well do some book signings. And of course I know that area pretty well, and my ex-wife still has a brother living there, in the Cohasset-Hingham area.”
 
The son of a factory worker, Felder grew up in Gainesville, Fla. Always fascinated by music, especially after a brief bout with polio, Felder became a dazzling guitarist by his early teens.

He landed a job teaching guitar to kids at a local music store, where his star student was 10-year old Tommy Petty. Later on, Felder would help the Rucker Brothers rock band, a group of 18-year-olds who’d recruited young Petty, then 14, as their frontman.

Felder also had his own groups in high school, and for a short while a mysterious young guitarist joined them, but Stephen Stills disappeared about as suddenly as he’d appeared.

Felder and his bands met many musicians on the southern circuit, including long-haired brothers Duane and Gregg Allman.

It was during that stretch that Felder met Boston-area native Susan Pickersgill, whose family was vacationing in Florida. The couple dated for a while, but then lost touch for several years, until Felder called her out of the blue. Before long he was in Boston, playing at the Holiday Inn lounge in Cambridge and doing odd jobs in Dorchester. The couple found a nice, inexpensive apartment in Hingham and got married.

“I know that area very well,” Felder said. “And since those old days, my son has gone to Berklee College of Music. The city has changed a lot, especially Commonwealth Avenue. I think our address used to be 342 Comm. Ave., and one night I brought Peter Green, who’d already left Fleetwood Mac, home to sleep on our couch a few nights.

“It’s funny, when I wrote the book I realized how these threads of people’s lives continued to pass through my life,” Felder added. “Tom Petty is a great guy, and I’m thrilled with his success. I had dinner with Stephen Stills two weeks ago, and we play golf often – he lives about a mile away. I just saw Graham Nash, too. When you go through hard times like I did, with being fired by the Eagles, and going through a painful divorce from Susan at the same time, you find out who your real pals are, and some of mine really came through for me.”

Felder’s exile from the Eagles is still a painful subject. Shortly after Bernie Leadon, the old friend who convinced him to go west in ‘74, had helped find the Felders a home near his, The Eagles called him in to add some guitar tracks to their third album, “On the Border.”
 
The band, until then a four-man equal partnership, was so impressed they offered Felder a full partnership the next day, he said. Papers drawn up then had the group sharing all revenues in a five-way split.

But by the “One of These Nights” album, songwriters Don Henley and Glenn Frey were moving the band away from its country roots, for a more hard-rocking sound. Ironically, as Felder’s guitar added more punch to the sound, Leadon’s country/bluegrass flavorings were needed less and less, and eventually he quit the band. The Eagles popularity continued to rise, and Joe Walsh replaced Leadon, adding even more guitar muscle.
 
The band broke up in 1980, as members sought solo careers. But they reunited in ‘94, and have been touring sporadically. The reformed band was much more of a Frey/Henley act, and Felder and the other members had less input.

Somewhere around the year 2000, a new contract was drawn up, allegedly giving Frey and Henley the bulk of the income, and negating the previous equal five-way split. If you read the Rolling Stone article a couple months back on the current Eagles, you read that Frey and Henley basically considered Felder a hired hand, and simply felt he was getting too cantankerous about business matters.

“I don’t want this to be a rebuttal of the Rolling Stone piece,” Felder said. “But I think it was just difficult for them to say why I was fired in any way that could make themselves look good. Why was I fired? I showed up on time, wrote more songs for every record than anyone, sacrificed time with my wife and four kids, to help make the band the best we could.

“I only asked where all the money was going. There’s an old axiom in the music business, among agents, that you should pay your acts enough so that they don’t ask questions. ... When my lawyers asked their lawyers what’s going on, if they have nothing to hide, why try and hide anything? That was my basic question, and my answer was ‘you’re fired.’ Wouldn’t it have been a lot simpler to just show the accounts?

“They said in that piece that I was trying to seize control of the band,” Felder said. “That’s just preposterous. It was hard for them to come up with a storyline that makes them look innocent, so I had to read that article with a smile. That was a pretty far stretch.”

Felder filed suit for breach of contract, and once the word got out that he was working on a book, Henley and Frey countersued. The cases were settled, and Felder seems to feel somewhat satisfied, although reports are that his book’s American edition had to be slightly toned down from its initial British version, which was more critical.

“Writing a book like this was my only possible response,” Felder said. “Doing this book became extremely cathartic. Going back through my life, realizing again where I’d come from, and how far I’d gone, and taking stock of it all, and what it meant, was really a big break for me ... Examining how I got from where I’d been, to where I was, was almost a spiritual experience.”

These days, Felder has his own band and plays occasional gigs. He “tinkers around” in his home studio and continues to write new material. Felder is also penning another book, this one a collection of Hollywood tales, and he is coy about whether it is based on real stories.

Jay N. Miller covers popular music in the Boston area for The Patriot Ledger. If you have information or ideas for Jay about the music scene, send it to him by e-mail to features@ledger.com. Attn: Music Scene in the subject line.