I had a simple question for former Eagles guitarist Don Felder. “The Bernie Taupin credited with the artwork on your new album. Is that THE Bernie Taupin?” “That’s the only Bernie Taupin I know,” Felder answered laughing.
Don Felder’s ‘American Rock ‘N’ Roll’ album has quite the Rock ‘N’ Roll roll-call, and artwork by Bernie Taupin is just one of the well-known credits. “I went to a hotel opening in Nashville, walking around the lobby and there was all this crazy art on the walls of smashed guitars with American flags wrapped around them,” Don tells Noise11.com. “There were these beautiful American flags soaked and wet and looking like they were about to be ignited. I said to the guy who built the hotel, “who did all this work?” and he said “Bernie Taupin”. I said, exactly like you, “THE Bernie Taupin, the Elton John Bernie Taupin?”
Don Felder and Bernie Taupin first crossed paths more than 40 years ago when Eagles were opening for Elton. “I knew Bernie back in 1975 at Wembley was Elton was playing. We were on the bill with him. So I reintroduced myself and said ‘this stuff is beautiful. I would love to use some of this stuff for my album artwork’ and he said (putting on a very bad English accent) “Absolutely mate, you tell me what you need”. He offered to let me use one of his flags which I thought was a beautiful rendition of the flag. Everybody on this record, music, mixing, mastering, including the artwork, has been a critical part of the history of Rock and Roll”.
The roll-call for ‘American Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is the Who’s Who of rock. “Everybody on this record, Sammy Hagar, Joe Satriani, Bob Weir, Sambora, Orianthi (my favourite female guitarist on the planet) Peter Frampton, Mick Fleetwood, Chad Smith, all of those amazing players on this record were all influenced from the music from the very end of the 60s and the early 70s, the artists who were at Woodstock,” Don says. “A lot of the people that I mention in the song ‘American Rock N Roll’ influenced all of those artists. Whether it was vocals from Crosby Stills Nash & Young or the Eagles, Slash was influenced by Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana. A lot of the people on this record were influenced by the history and evolution of rock and roll music since 1969. I tried to collect those people all the way down to Bob Clearmountain who is probably the most noted audio hi-fi mixing engineer in the business. Bernie Grundman, who mastered the record, when I was sitting in his studio he brought out the original two-track mix of Hotel California. He mastered it back then for vinyl and cassette. Every time there has been a remastering process for all of the Eagles project, Bernie has done it”.
‘American Rock ‘N’ Roll’ is only Felder’s third solo album. ‘Airborne’ was released in 1983, ‘Road To Forever’ came out in 2012.
The album also features the song ‘Sun’, written by Felder in 1974 for Eagles ‘One of these Nights’ album but rejected by Glenn Frey and Don Henley.