Hotel California – The Eagles

THIS DAY IN MUSIC……………………….on May 7th of 1977 ten weeks after entering the Billboard singles chart, The Eagles’ masterpiece, “Hotel California” became the band’s fourth US #1 hit. It made #8 in the UK. In 2009, the song was certified Platinum by the RIAA for sales of 1,000,000 digital downloads. Written by Don Felder, Glenn Frey and Don Henley, this song is about materialism and excess. California is used as the setting, but it could relate to anywhere in America. California is seen from the perspective of an outsider here. Bernie Leadon was the only band member at the time who was from the state (Timothy B. Schmit, who joined in 1977, was also from California). Joe Walsh came from New Jersey; Randy Meisner from Nebraska; Don Henley was from Texas; Glenn Frey was from Detroit, and Don Felder was from Florida. In our interview with Don Felder, he explained: “As you’re driving in Los Angeles at night, you can see the glow of the energy and the lights of Hollywood and Los Angeles for 100 miles out in the desert. And on the horizon, as you’re driving in, all of these images start coming into your mind of the propaganda and advertisement you’ve experienced about California. In other words, the movie stars, the stars on Hollywood Boulevard, the beaches, bikinis, palm trees, all those images that you see and that people think of when they think of California start running through your mind. You’re anticipating that. That’s all you know of California.” Don Henley put it this way: “We were all middle-class kids from the Midwest. Hotel California was our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles.”Don Felder came up with the musical idea for this song. Felder says they recorded the song about a year after he did the original demo, and in the session, he started to improvise the guitar part at the end. Henley stopped him and demanded that he do it exactly like the demo, so he had to call his wife and have her play the cassette demo over the phone so Felder could remember what he played.This was recorded at three different sessions before the Eagles got the version they wanted. The biggest problem was finding the right key for Henley’s vocal. This won the 1977 Grammy for Record of the Year. The band did not show up to accept the award, as Don Henley did not believe in contests. Timothy B. Schmit had just joined the band, and he says they watched the ceremony on TV while they were rehearsing.