PSYCHO SANTA STORY
a term used in the Don Felder autobiography, “Heaven And Hell My Life In The Eagles 1974-2001”
(first written on this website in 2008, amended in 2014, and now amended since)
On a Saturday morning November 28, 1993 on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, I wore a Santa Claus suit, along with some pre-painted signs and a bell, attempted a continued effort to obtain the autograph of Don Felder, then, of the band Eagles on some very rare European album pressings and other rare items of memorabilia.
However now, after almost 25 years, it’s time to put this story to some rest and move on past it. Without going into all the full details over and over again, here is basically my detail of what happened and why:
To begin, I starting attempting to collect autographs from the band Eagles during a time where was no eBay, no Internet, no such words as “selfies”, and collecting signatures was often as easy as simply asking a celebrity for one, if you could ever find him or her. It was another era, a very early infancy of collectability, and completely different than from the madness and business we see today in the world of memorabilia collecting.
Finding where Don Felder may be appearing, or any live concerts he was in, outside of a few NAMM Conventions where I did see him, was very, very difficult, unlike the other 6 members of this band who were literally all over and everywhere around Los Angeles during the years of 1984-1994. For a time, it seemed Don Felder had all but retired.
In 1992, I came back from vacationing in Europe with several German and Italian Greatest Hits albums that were never sold here in the U.S. I immediately went to work trying to obtain all 7 members of the band on the covers of these LP’s. One by one, and through many attended concerts and long night and day vigils of waiting, I started to obtain band member signatures on these unique Eagles albums. They were so rare, that some members either argued about signing them (claiming that they were bootlegs) or, in the case of Glenn Frey, wanted to know if I had extras as he had never seen them or heard of them either. These albums, I found out, were extremely limited.
With Don Felder’s signature still needed on each one, and with no information on any type of public appearance of any kind in or around the L.A. area, I decided to write to him and ask if we could meet somewhere public and comfortable for him so I could get these albums signed. He offered to receive, sign and return them via U.S. mail, but such personal signing was out of the question.
I wrote back to him with my reasons for not wanting to risk loss or damage of these items in the mail. I even sent a video tape of my collection, showing him my items.
Looking back, I should have fully accepted his generous offer and been thankful for the kindness. However, to attempt any risk of damage of loss of these items through the mail, was not an avenue at that time, I was willing to take.
Instead, I had another idea…
On Saturday November 28, 1993, I took some pre-painted wooden signs asking Don Felder to either contact me and or sign my items for me. I dressed up as Santa Claus and, for a few hours, danced and rang a Christmas bell on Pacific Coast Highway hoping Mr. Felder might find such efforts from a fan both entertaining and flattering. Well, he did not. It turned out both he, the Malibu Police and his team of lawyers all found no humor in my little stunt. Instead it evolved into quite a terrible mess and misunderstanding. Lost now, was any possibility that this man, who I truly had admired, would ever believe in any way that I was truly just a fan trying to get my albums signed.
In fact, it got worse.
Starting on May 27, 1994, the Eagles were scheduled for 6 nights of reunion concerts at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater and were staying nearby at The Four Seasons on Fashion Island, in Newport Beach. Knowing the band was staying at this hotel, I booked my wife and me there, too, for several nights as I had tickets to four of their six opening night concerts. I was informed shortly after my arrival at the hotel by their road and security manager Mr. Smokey Wendall that there would be no autographs, no attempts for any autographs and that it may be best that I simply check out of the hotel. After the concert that night, I took the advice of Mr. Wendall and did check out of the hotel the following morning.
It was later on the following week, I was served a restraining order from the legal camp of Don Felder instructing me through the terms of this order, to stay away from Don Felder. Thus, I strictly complied. At least I did for the next 14 years. It was at this time I felt perhaps enough time had gone by whereas I can meet this man, again, on an entire new set of terms. It was his book signing.
On May 6, 2008, Don Felder, Don Felder appeared at Barnes and Noble Bookstore at the Santa Monica Third Street Promenade, for the opening night of a month-long book tour.
I took my turn in line with the 30 or so others that were there getting Don Felder’s just-released autobiography book, Heaven and Hell: My Life In The Eagles (1974-2001), to be signed. After the book signing was over, I walked up to him where he was seated at a table, along with his staff and staff from the bookstore. I introduced myself, finally, on my terms, explained myself, and apologized, as best and honestly as I could. In the case of Mr. Don Felder, I simply wanted to right a wrong and show him that I was nothing more than a fan.
When I had finished saying what I came to say, Mr. Don Felder reached out his arm, and the two of us shook hands. I don’t know if he fully believed me, or fully accepted my apology, but, whatever he reasons where for shaking my hand, he certainly was under no obligation to do so. I just hope to this day he does believe me. Sometimes, things do work themselves out.
I have seen Don Felder since the day of his book signing, at other book signings and events.
Such events as the Katrina Benefit concert, at The Grammy Museum, and other very public occasions. Don Felder graciously has signed autographs for me since. Whatever his reasons are, I thank Mr. Don Felder. More so, I thank him for a career of so much amazing music, and for so many incredible songs, riffs, concerts and smiles put on my face as well as fans all over the world.
Though I do care what a celebrity may think of me as I ask and seek his or her signature, I cannot control what they think. But I do have complete control on how I act. I have always held a very high level of respect when encountering a celebrity. At least, I feel I always have. I have a tremendously warm opinion of Mr. Don Felder. A man that has made Rock and Roll music a much better place to enjoy.
Hopefully, and with a little trust and faith, he knows that I am Just A Fan.