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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

From "Hotel California" To "The Chilton Hilton," Contracts Are Void When Reached Under Duress


Don Felder
Guitarist Don Felder, who wrote the music for "Hotel California," was ejected from the Eagles in 2001 in the fallout of a contract he signed under duress.

Clanton, Alabama, resident Bonnie Cahalane was unlawfully incarcerated for almost five months at the Chilton County Jail--known to locals as "The Chilton Hilton"--and since has been forced out of her home. The house now is up for sale, all because of an agreement she reached under duress in Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds' courtroom.


The Felder episode is one of the key story lines in History of the Eagles: The Story of American Band, a three-hour film that has been running on Showtime since February and now is available on DVD. Produced by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney, History of the Eagles probably will be one of the most watched documentaries of 2013.


At the heart of the film is a 40-year journey of an iconic band, the group that came to define the Southern California sound of the 1970s. But tucked between tales about the birth of classic songs--and numerous internal squabbles--are insights about this important legal concept: A contract that is reached under duress is void. (For Alabama law on the subject, see Claybrook v. Claybrook, Ala., Civ. App., 2010.)


Felder sued band leaders Glenn Frey and Don Henley, seeking more than $50 million in past earnings and potentially lost income. The case ultimately was settled, and Felder must have received some measure of justice because his net worth is estimated at $60 million.


Will Bonnie Cahalane achieve justice? If the rule of law still means anything in Alabama, she will. That's because the so-called agreement to sell her house was reached while she was in prison clothes and under threat of returning to "The Chilton Hilton" if she didn't cave in.


Don Felder forever will be known as the guy who gave birth to "Hotel California," which is the Eagles' signature tune and ranks No. 49 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." But Felder, through years of turmoil and courtroom unpleasantness, has taught us that contracts reached under duress are void and cannot be enforced.


How did Felder's legal saga unfold. The roots of it were planted when he was invited to play slide guitar for two songs ("Already Gone" and "Good Day in Hell") as a "late arrival" on the band's third album, 1974's On the Border. Felder's role was to toughen up the band's sound and help them transition from a country-rock band to an edgier rock band.


Felder filled that mission so well that he was invited to become a full band member for 1975's One of These Nights, which went quadruple platinum and became by far the band's biggest selling album at that point. Felder joined founding members Frey, Henley, Bernie Leadon, and Randy Meisner as equal partners in the band's business affairs.


That "five equal partners" concept started to fray when Leadon left the band in 1975. His replacement, Joe Walsh, was hired as a band member, but he was not a partner in its business entity, Eagles Ltd.


Felder's songwriting and guitar work were central to the seminal Hotel California album in 1976, with the disc going 16 times platinum and becoming one of the most beloved and influential LPs of all time. Another founding member, Randy Meisner, left after that album--and his replacement, Timothy B. Schmit, was hired under terms similar to those for Walsh.


That left only three partners in Eagles Ltd, and the band broke up in 1980 following tension-filled sessions for 1979's The Long Run.


Frey has called the breakup a "14-year vacation," and during the split, he and Henley had the most successful solo careers of any band members. When the Eagles reconvened in 1994, Frey decided that it should be on terms that were favorable to the two partners who had become the best-known lead singers and songwriters. Frey and Henley were to become "the Gods" of the band, while Felder was to accept a substantially smaller piece of the pie.



Bonnie Cahalane
Perhaps the most dramatic moment in History of the Eagles comes when Frey describes placing a phone call to Felder's representative and saying, in so many words, "If your client doesn't agree to the new contract by sundown, he's out of the band . . . click."

Felder wound up signing the re-arranged deal, but it clearly was done under duress--and, under the law, such a contract is no contract at all. As Felder continued to question Frey, Henley and manager Irving Azoff about the group's finances, he finally was forced out of the band. 


Lawsuits and countersuits began to fly, and Yahoo! News' Bruce Simon described the issues in a 2006 article:



Felder, who says he was an equal partner and shareholder in Eagles, Ltd., claims that Henley and Frey began abusing him in 1994 on the Hell Freezes Over tour, when new business entities were formed that gave Henley and Frey a majority position. When he protested, Felder was told to "take it or leave it" and was threatened with firing.

Felder further alleges that several of the group's business dealings in the past 10 years have been compromised by outside interests. Among other things, he says the Hell Freezes Over album was placed with Geffen Records to help satisfy Henley's legal battles with the label; that Azoff and Peter Lopez, Frey's personal attorney, were paid to act as tour promoters, rather than having independent promoters bid on the project; and that the merchandising licensing fee for the Hell Freezes Over tour was "substantially below the market price."


The suit goes on to say that "the greed of Henley and Frey became more insatiable with each new project." They formed yet another company to handle the business dealings related to the Eagles boxed set Selected Works: 1972-1999, and that this new company totally excluded Felder, Walsh, and Schmit from an ownership stake. When Felder once again complained, he was sent a letter by Azoff that said he was out of the Eagles, which led him to sign the papers under duress.

Here is how Jeff Leeds, of the Los Angeles Times, described the case in 2002:



Felder's lawsuit accuses Henley and Frey of bullying him into "one-sided" agreements divvying up band profits, withholding financial information and firing him without cause. . . .

The lawsuit, filed last year in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks past earnings and potentially lost income totaling more than $50 million. Felder is seeking to dissolve Eagles Ltd., the corporation that holds rights to the band's name, some unreleased recordings and other property.

I've been a fan of Don Henley and Glenn Frey for 40-plus years and have enormous respect for their status as one of the great songwriting teams of the modern era. But their treatment of Don Felder reveals them to be pretty sorry human beings. Felder should still be in the Eagles, but short of that, it's an encouraging sign that Frey and Henley had to pay substantial sums for their abusive actions.

Speaking of sorry individuals, that brings us back to Chilton County Circuit Judge Sibley Reynolds. He might be protected by judicial immunity, but his associates who have helped bully Bonnie Cahalane could wind up facing serious civil liability. And if Reynolds is found to have gone beyond his judicial capacity to engage in a conspiracy to deprive Ms. Cahalane of her civil rights . . . well, the good judge might find his own wallet to be considerably lighter.


Don Felder has proven that you can successfully fight back against bullies in court. Let's hope Bonnie Cahalane drives home the same lesson.



Previously in the series:


From "Hotel California" to "The Chilton Hilton," Bonnie Cahalane and Don Felder Share Legal Woes (May 21, 2013)



27 comments:

Coyote Lane said...

On point, your blog is about the local corruption and you choose to keep the 'merits' in the fact checking category of on point, so to speak - my interpretation.

Bonnie suffers from what the agenda was supposed to be.

DEMOCRATIC LIBERALS, Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, et al, women that should be very ashamed at what goes on with women and rights' in America. But, no, Diane Feinstein in the book by Jeff Connaughton turns her thumb down to save Main Street over Wall Street. How shocking that a billionaire would do that. Liberal Democrat and all.

Am I on POINT? Do we not want our liberal democracy to work?!

Study our MODEL ISRAEL and Bonnie nor I have the diamonds on the souls of our shoes to be a rock star and get the attorneys that get paid by the billionaire musicians .. people in America are continuing to not get it, we are collapsing because of this:

"... For a large majority of those over whom the Israeli state rules directly or indirectly, Israel is already not a democracy. It consists of four categories of residents: Jewish Israelis who, as the ruling caste, are full participants in its political economy; Palestinian Arab Israelis, who are citizens with restricted rights and reduced benefits; Palestinian Arabs in the West Bank, who are treated as stateless prisoners in their own land; and Palestinian Arabs in the Gaza ghetto, who are an urban proletariat besieged and tormented at will by the Israeli armed forces. The operational demands of this multi-layered, militarily-enforced system of ethno-religious separation have resulted in the steady contraction of freedoms in Israel proper.

The United States has assumed the role of protecting power for Israel, which depends heavily on the ability of American Jews to mobilize subsidies, diplomatic and legal protection, weapons transfers, and other forms of material support in Washington. This task is made easier by the sympathy for Zionism of a large but silent and mostly passive evangelical Christian minority as well as lingering American admiration for Israelis as the pioneers of a vibrant new society in the Holy Land. It is noteworthy, however, that those actually lobbying for Israel are almost without exception Jewish. Their efforts exploit the unscrupulous venality and appeasement of politically powerful donors that are essential to political survival in modern America to assure reflexive fealty to Israel’s rightwing and its policies. When it’s not denying its own existence, the Israel Lobby boasts that it is the most effective special-interest advocate in the country. Official America’s passionate attachment to Israel has become a very salient part of U.S. political pathology. It epitomizes the ability of a small but determined minority to extract tax resources for its cause while blocking efforts to question these exactions. see part 2

Coyote Lane said...

Part2

"... The United States has assumed the role of protecting power for Israel, which depends heavily on the ability of American Jews to mobilize subsidies, diplomatic and legal protection, weapons transfers, and other forms of material support in Washington. This task is made easier by the sympathy for Zionism of a large but silent and mostly passive evangelical Christian minority as well as lingering American admiration for Israelis as the pioneers of a vibrant new society in the Holy Land. It is noteworthy, however, that those actually lobbying for Israel are almost without exception Jewish. Their efforts exploit the unscrupulous venality and appeasement of politically powerful donors that are essential to political survival in modern America to assure reflexive fealty to Israel’s rightwing and its policies. When it’s not denying its own existence, the Israel Lobby boasts that it is the most effective special-interest advocate in the country. Official America’s passionate attachment to Israel has become a very salient part of U.S. political pathology. It epitomizes the ability of a small but determined minority to extract tax resources for its cause while blocking efforts to question these exactions.

http://mycatbirdseat.com/2013/06/chas-freeman-israels-fraying-image-and-its-implications/

PRAY AMERICA AWAKENS IN TIME EAF AND MSM ISN'T ABOUT TO BE IN THE SAME POWER AS LEGAL SCHNAUZER

Anonymous said...

in our minds

every ideology and idea

scary to be free and Bonnie Wyatt's situation proves we need to be much better schooled about our idea of freedom

ideologies come and go because stuck 'thoughts-thinking' fixed in time

Bonnie as a free thinker would never have been in this ideology of a bunch of white crackers stealing her to death

USA EDucation failed Bonnie, her children and all that share the same fate of no freedom idea in the ideologies of 'corporate fascism' AND

LS understands

Anonymous said...

LS, love the connections you find between "Hotel California" and "The Chilton Hilton." Might be a stretch, but hey, it makes for entertaining reading.

MyMan said...

This is one of the most clear and concise explanations I've read on what happened with Don Felder and the Eagles. I'm one of the Eagles' many fans who feel the band never has been the same since DF left. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

The Felder and Cahalane stories, at their hearts, are about bullying. We do it to each other in third grade. And it continues when we are adults--except it gets expensive because lawyers are involved.

Anonymous said...

http://www.monbiot.com/2013/06/03/innocent-until-proved-dead/

my other favorite writer besides you, LS.

Real writers of the world have been titled 'journalists', however the truth told is the writers of the world in real genius are the conscience of our future, thank you!

enjoy "innocent until proved dead"

... Global powers have an antisocial habit of bringing their work back home. The British government, for example, imported some of the methods it used against its colonial subjects to suppress domestic protests and strikes. Once an administrative class becomes accustomed to treating foreigners as if they have no rights, and once the domestic population broadly accepts their justifications, it is almost inevitable that the habit migrates from one arena into another. If hundreds of people living abroad can be executed by US agents on no more than suspicion, should we be surprised if residents of the United States began to be treated the same way?

.... George Monbiot

JamesDean said...

Don Felder and the double-neck guitar. Classic and uber cool.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Schnauzer:

A die-hard Eagles fan here, who just discovered your blog. Love the post, especially because I can tell that you, too, are a hard-core fan of the band. You don't know that Don Felder was a "late arrival" for "On the Border" without being seriously into the band. Great work, and all my best to Ms. Cahalane.

TLR said...

Entertaining post, LS, with an important message. I suspect many Americans are bullied into unlawful legal agreements such as these. Thanks for the education on an important subject.

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 9:53--

Yes, I am a big-time Eagles fan. Probably could name the writers and lead singers on each song in their catalog. Best American band ever, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

This Bonnie Cahalane case continues to be an outrage. Judge Sibley Reynolds needs to be investigated--now!

Anonymous said...

I've been to "The Chilton Hilton." Would rather stay at "The Hotel California."

Anonymous said...

seen the Eagles live many times and stayed more than once in the Hotel California, what are we going to do in the future absent our culture of rock & roll

legalschnauzer said...

Anon at 10:54--

I share your concern about the future of meaningful rock and roll. I don't see bands like the Eagles in our future.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget Don Felder's other contributions to the Eagles' canon:

"Victim of Love"
"Those Shoes"
"Disco Strangler"
"Visions"
"Too Many Hands"

His guitar solo on "One of These Nights" helped send that song to the top of the charts and turned the Eagles into a mega band.

He's more than just the "Hotel California" guy.

Anonymous said...

It's a shame the "five equal partners" concept couldn't have lasted. Glenn Frey's greed took over.

Anonymous said...

http://americanfreepress.net/podcast/JimTraficantPreBB128.mp3

this could be for Bonnie and lots of the Alabama corruption, Jim Traficant was also put into jail unlawfully.

wonder whether or not he has been contacted about Don.

thinking he would be definitely interested in Bonnie and Sherry and what a concept, Freedom of Information Act releases for what is going on?

TD said...

Thanks for the reference to Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner. Many people have forgotten the major contribution of those two founding Eagles.

Anonymous said...

How exploited our musicians have been. When thinking about how great California is, it's because of the music and the whole world knows this to be the truth.

Then the state has to have the Feinstein Blum Pelosi and other crime mafia

http://www.thedailysheeple.com/keeping-it-in-the-family-senator-feinsteins-husband-stands-to-make-millions-from-usps-contract_062013

Coyote Lane said...

LS

I have to say the young are very talented. They are smarter than the older generations, thankfully.

Watching they've been, seeing the collapse a long time ago, most all that were literally raised on technology of higher IT, than when just the good ole DOS computer was assisting like a sophisticated typewriter.

The younger generation now considered in the olden day saying, over 30, ha ha ha ha how it all goes around.

Yes they, under 40 and 30 and over, can write and play music as well as perform far greater than the Eagles, yes indeed.

Also, many of these young are fine artists, poets, can draw, paint, speak many different languages and aren't racist like the olden non higher IT introduced.

This aught 30s-40s generation has been quiet, waiting with EQ not the IQ of past, both IQ and EQ but Emotional Quotient in those that didn't take the 'white drugs', is quite old in the power of wise.

Should America get through this 'birthing a new Middle East' as Condi said, then we are to know just how much 'culture' has been hiding in the patience of the right time.

Discouraged, not as bad as the poor Palestinians however, thankfully we've been spared the worst of ghetto hell.

jeffrey spruill said...

LS:

Judge Henry Coke Morgan split the statute the incompetent feds charged me with into separate offenses 11 days before my trial violating the 5th amendment grand jury clause.

Judge Robert G. Doumar lets my case proceed to trial KNOWING it would violate the 5th amendment grand jury clause and this subterfuge is rewarded with this case:

http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-18567_162-515096.html

*

Will and should I receive any relief for the time I spent in federal prison?

Anonymous said...

When will you interview Bonnie Cahalane?

legalschnauzer said...

Not sure, but I have much more coming on what amounts to the court-sanctioned theft of her house.

Anonymous said...

One would think that Bonnie Cahalane would want to her story to anyone and everyone willing to listen.

e.a.f. said...

Great title for a movie, from Hotel California to the Chilton Hilton, a review of american music and justice. ya that works. would make a good documentary. Go for it.

The article is great and you gotta love how you work it through.

Ms. Culhane must find all of this very difficult. She is to be commented for her courage to continue.

To all the decent lawyers in Alabama, your work must be difficut, operating in such a climate.

Now coyote, I would suggest you keep with the Alabama theme, here, not Israel, etc. The theme here is Alabama injustice, bullying and how it can affect out comes in court and lead to settlement out of court. It demonstrates the classic example of you don't just have to be female to be bullied. It is everywhere, including your comments.

Anonymous said...

Eaf you bore me!