Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder talked about writing and recording the iconic “Hotel California,” telling Ultimate Classic Rock:
“I was sitting on the couch and out came that chord progression over and over and over.
“So I went into the back bedroom and recorded a little demo of it.[metalwani_content_ad]
“I [later] re-recorded the whole thing where I played acoustic 12-string, electric guitar and bass. I had a drum machine that played a reggae cha-cha beat and made a pretty complete demo.
“I gave a copy – along with 14 or 15 other songs, one of which was the track and the melody of ‘Victim of Love,’ and a bunch of other song ideas – to [the band] and said, ‘Hey, is there anything on here that anybody likes that want to finish writing with me?’
“I get a call from [drummer Don] Henley saying, ‘I kind of like that track, sounds like a Mexican reggae. So that became the working name of the song, ‘Mexican Reggae,’ we went into the studio and started recording it.”
“We had conversations since it was my basic track about how no one from the band was from California.
“We’ve all had that experience of driving into LA. When we got there and got into the entertainment business, it became a different tale along the way.[metalwani_content_ad]
“And I thought the imagery of Henley’s lyrics were just fantastic, he was sending like little visual postcards, snapshots of scenes along the way.
“I thought it was brilliantly put together with Glenn’s conception, our conversations that we have had, and Don’s lyric ability.”
Focusing on the compositional aspect, Felder noted:
“It the end of the demo, I made up what I thought would be a part that I would play and something that Joe would play.
“[The two guitarists got into the studio, plugged in their guitars and started playing. But then, according to Felder, Henley came in and told them] ”Stop! That’s not like the demo. You got to make it like the demo.’
“We were sitting in Miami in the recording studio’s doing those guitars. I had left my original cassette in my studio in Los Angeles in Malibu.
“So I had to call my housekeeper, have her go find the cassette, put it in a blaster, play it over the phone, so we could record it in the studio in Miami.[metalwani_content_ad]
“Then I had to sit down and learn what I had just made up, note for note from the hip because Don wanted it just like the demo. I would say over half of that solo on the end came off of my original demo.”
The guitarist further explained:
“We had a playback party for the record company. After ‘Hotel California’ played, Don turned around and said, ‘That’s gonna be our single.’
“In those days AM radio would only play something that was under three minutes and 30 seconds long [and] it had to be a rock track or a danceable track or a ballad of some kind.
“‘Hotel California’ was none of those. It was the absolute wrong format for radio. So I said to Don, ‘I think that’s an FM cut, it’s something that’ll play on FM radio, not AM radio.’
“Don said, ‘Nope, this gonna be our single.’
“We all went with it. I’ve never been so happy to have been so wrong.”