Hotel California (Eagles album)

Released December 8, 1976
Recorded March – October 1976
Studio Criteria Studios, Miami, FL and Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles, CA
Genre Rock
Length 43:28
Label Asylum
Producer Bill Szymczyk

Hotel California is the fifth studio album by American rock band the Eagles, and is one of the best-selling albums of all time. Three singles were released from the album, each reaching high in the Billboard Hot 100: “New Kid in Town” (No. 1), “Hotel California” (No. 1), and “Life in the Fast Lane” (No. 11). The album became the band’s best-selling album after Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975), with over 16 million copies sold in the U.S. alone and over 32 million copies sold worldwide. The album was ranked number 37 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time”.

The album was recorded by Bill Szymczyk at the Criteria and Record Plant studios between March and October 1976, and then released on Asylum in December. It was their first album with guitarist Joe Walsh, who had replaced founding member Bernie Leadon, and is the last album to feature bassist Randy Meisner. It is their sixth album (including Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)), and fifth of new material. The front cover is a photograph of the Beverly Hills Hotel by David Alexander. The album topped the charts and won the band two Grammy Awards for “Hotel California” and “New Kid in Town”. The album was nominated for Album of the Year but lost to Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours.

The first song written for the album was “Hotel California”, which became the theme for the album. In an interview with the Dutch magazine ZigZag shortly before the album’s release, Don Henley said: “This is a concept album, there’s no way to hide it, but it’s not set in the old West, the cowboy thing, you know. It’s more urban this time (…) It’s our bicentennial year, you know, the country is 200 years old, so we figured since we are the Eagles and the Eagle is our national symbol, that we were obliged to make some kind of a little bicentennial statement using California as a microcosm of the whole United States, or the whole world, if you will, and to try to wake people up and say ‘We’ve been okay so far, for 200 years, but we’re gonna have to change if we’re gonna continue to be around.'”

Glenn Frey on the “Hotel California” episode of In the Studio with Redbeard spoke about “The Last Resort”, saying it was “the first time that Don took it upon himself to write an epic story and we were already starting to worry about the environment… we’re constantly screwing up paradise and that was the point of the song and that at some point there is going to be no more new frontiers. I mean we’re putting junk, er, garbage into space now.

The album was recorded between March and October 1976 at Criteria Studios, Miami, FL and Record Plant Studios, Los Angeles, CA, and produced by Bill Szymczyk. While the band were recording the album, Black Sabbath were recording Technical Ecstasy in an adjacent studio at Criteria Studios in Miami. The band were forced to stop recording on numerous occasions because Black Sabbath were too loud and the sound was coming through the wall.

According to Henley in a 1982 interview, the Eagles “probably peaked on Hotel California.” Henley said: “After that, we started growing apart as collaborators and as friends.”

The album was released by Asylum Records on December 8, 1976 in vinyl, cassette and 8-track cartridge formats. It was considered for quadraphonic release in early 1977, but this idea was dropped following the demise of the quadraphonic format. On the album’s 25 anniversary in 2001, it was released in a Multichannel 5.1 DVD-Audio disc. On August 17, 2011, the album was released on a hybrid SACD in Japan in The Warner Premium Sound series, containing both a stereo and a 5.1 mix.

Track listing

Side one

“Hotel California” (Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn Frey) – 6:30
Lead vocals by Don Henley, percussion by Don Henley, guitar solos by Don Felder and Joe Walsh
“New Kid in Town” (Henley, Frey, J. D. Souther) – 5:04
Lead vocal by Glenn Frey, electric guitars by Don Felder, electric piano and organ by Joe Walsh, guitarrón by Randy Meisner
“Life in the Fast Lane” (Henley, Frey, Joe Walsh) – 4:46
Lead vocal by Don Henley, clavinet by Glenn Frey, lead guitar by Joe Walsh
“Wasted Time” (Henley, Frey) – 4:55
Lead vocal by Don Henley, guitar by Don Felder, organ by Joe Walsh, piano by Glenn Frey

Side two

“Wasted Time (Reprise)” (Henley, Frey, Jim Ed Norman) – 1:22
Strings arranged and conducted by Jim Ed Norman
“Victim of Love” (Felder, Henley, Frey, Souther) – 4:11
Lead vocal by Don Henley, lead guitar by Don Felder, slide guitar by Joe Walsh
“Pretty Maids All in a Row” (Joe Vitale, Walsh) – 4:05
Lead vocal by Joe Walsh, piano by Joe Walsh, synthesizer by Glenn Frey and Joe Walsh
“Try and Love Again” (Randy Meisner) – 5:10
Lead vocals by Randy Meisner, lead guitar by Glenn Frey, Gretsch guitar by Joe Walsh
“The Last Resort” (Henley, Frey) – 7:25
Lead vocal by Don Henley, pedal steel guitar by Don Felder, synthesizer by Don Henley and Joe Walsh


Don Felder – guitars, pedal steel guitar, slide guitar, vocals
Glenn Frey – guitars, piano, clavinet, synthesizer, vocals
Don Henley – drums, percussion, synthesizer, vocals
Randy Meisner – bass, guitarrón, vocals
Joe Walsh – guitars, slide guitar, piano, electric piano, organ, synthesizer, vocals

Bill Szymczyk – producer, mixing
Allan Blazek, Bruce Hensal, Ed Mashal, Bill Szymczyk – engineers
Jim Ed Norman – string arrangements, conductor
Sid Sharp – concert master
Don Henley, John Kosh – art direction
John Kosh – design
David Alexander – photography
Kosh – artwork
Norman Seeff – poster design
Kevin Gray – CD preparation
Ted Jensen – mastering and remastering
Lee Hulko – original LP mastering