We all know “Hotel California”. The opening guitar riff, the killer solo, and the haunting lyrics make it one of the most legendary songs of all time. It was a Billboard chart-topper with 19 weeks on the Hot 100. It has sold over 16 million copies in the United States alone and even earned a Grammy® for Record of the Year. While you may know every single word to the song (and can air guitar along perfectly with the solo), here are a few facts that you might not have known about the huge hit!
The Eagles spent eight months in the studio polishing take after take after take. Don Henley also said, “We just locked ourselves in. We had a refrigerator, a ping pong table, roller skates, and a couple cots. We would go in and stay for two or three days at a time.”
The line, “They stab it with their steely knives but they just can’t kill the beast” is a reference to Steely Dan. The bands shared the same manager (Irving Azoff) and had a friendly rivalry. The year before, Steely Dan included the line “Turn up the Eagles, the neighbors are listening” on their song “Everything You Did”.
In the final recording session, Don Felder said 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 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, who had just joined the band as their bassist, said they watched the ceremony on TV while they were rehearsing.
It is well known that Hotel California is actually a metaphor and the song is actually about excess in America, or in the words of Don Henley, “Hotel California was our interpretation of the high life in Los Angeles.” However, there are several strange Internet theories and urban legends about the “real” Hotel California. Some include suggestions that it was an old church taken over by devil worshippers, a psychiatric hospital, an inn run by cannibals, or Aleister Crowley’s mansion in Scotland. It’s even been suggested that the “Hotel California” is the Playboy Mansion.
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