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25 | Top 100
'Hotel California'
The Eagles
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By the time the Eagles came to record their fifth album, they were in the enviable position of being the biggest band in America but by then they were barely talking to each other. Bassist Randy Meisner recalled: “By 1976… we couldn’t sit down like guys anymore, it was all
The Eagles
Song facts
Composer Frey/Henley/Felder
Genre Rock
Album Hotel California
Year of release 1977
UK Chart Position 8
business. The friendships were kind of gone.”

Guitarist Don Felder who came up with the original riff for ‘Hotel California’, which was then developed by Don Henley and Glenn Frey. From the beginning, it had been apparent that the song was taking on a life of its own however. Because of its length - it was running at six and a half minutes - the record company was reluctant to release it as a single. Luckily, the band persisted and eventually won the argument - in March 1977, the song gave them their fourth American No.1.  In Britain it got to No.8, giving them their biggest UK hit.
‘Hotel California’ marked a departure from the band’s familiar country-rock offerings. The tale was brooding and atmospheric, marking the hotel’s sad decline from elegance to decadence. The duelling guitars of Felder and Joe Walsh were harder-edged and there was even a hint of reggae in the song’s rhythm. The lyrics might be a tad clunky (surely wine isn’t a spirit?) but they were elevated by the seamless solos that marked the song’s lengthy conclusion.


The Eagles' Glen Frey on creating Hotel California
Glen Frey
Eagles co-founder Glen Frey talks about how the band created their Rock masterpiece - "we were trying to expand our lyrical horizons and try and to take on something in the realm of the bizzare like Steely Dan had done".

 

Other versions
Gypsy Kings
 Latino strummers the Gypsy Kings provide a tinge of "rumba flamenca" to The Eagles classic rock song.

Tinged with sarcasm, wit, fear, exploitism and curiosity, the song remains a classic and always will.


Michael

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Songwriting tips

Hotel California is widely held to be an allegory for the death of the hippie dream. Why are lyrics important? Find out here.
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