In 2019, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame joined forces to present an exhibit that promised a rare glimpse into the instruments that shaped some of the most cherished songs in cultural history. Among the iconic guitars on display was a white double-neck that belonged to none other than Don Felder, the maestro behind the timeless ‘Hotel California’ guitar solo.
During the exhibit’s opening in New York, Felder found himself in the company of guitar legend Jimmy Page, who had loaned seven guitars for the occasion, including one that was a red counterpart to Felder’s double-neck.
“I am an absolute monstrous fan of him,” Felder expressed to WOUB. “Both as a person, and his musical creations and the things he’s brought to this planet for everyone to enjoy.”
Despite having perfected his blend of southern rock with the Eagles, it was evident that the presence of the Led Zeppelin guitarist left Felder starstruck. However, there wasn’t much time for contemplation, as exhibit staff quickly requested Felder to perform ‘Hotel California’ live.
Undeterred by the lack of a band, Felder agreed, confident in the song’s crowd-pleasing prowess.
A makeshift stage was set up, with an audience of 200 press members eagerly awaiting the impromptu performance. Cameras of all kinds were poised to capture the moment.
Everything seemed in order until Felder stepped onto the stage and noticed Jimmy Page sitting in the front row.
“I’ve got to stand there and sing and play the solos on ‘Hotel [California]’, the whole thing, just spotlessly,” he recalled. “Because if I make a mistake, I would turn over in my sleep every night for the rest of my life, agonizing over that moment.”
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For someone who had never been scared of taking the stage, the prospect of playing in front of Jimmy Page set Felder on edge.
“I got a gasp inside,” he admitted. “[I] took a deep breath and go, ‘Well, this is gonna be interesting.’”
The fear of making a misstep haunted him throughout the performance, picturing Page scrutinizing every note.
After the show, Felder approached Page to share his apprehensions.
[“I told [Page] how frightened I was by him sitting right there listening to every note,” he said.
Page, in response, laughed and revealed he had experienced similar nervousness himself.
“We became bonded there, at that event, to connect ‘Stairway to Heaven’ and ‘Hotel California’,” revealed Felder. “The two double-neck guitar players.”
In the end, the unexpected duel with Jimmy Page turned out to be a memorable bonding experience for the two guitar legends, proving that even seasoned musicians can still feel the jitters when playing for a fellow master of the strings.