Hotel California (Eagles album)

Hotel California
Studio album by the Eagles
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
the Eagles chronology
Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)
Hotel California
The Long Run
Singles from Hotel California
  1. "New Kid in Town"
    Released: December 7, 1976
  2. "Hotel California"
    Released: March 12, 1977
  3. "Life in the Fast Lane"
    Released: May 3, 1977

Hotel California is the fifth studio album by the 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.


Composition and theme

The first song written for the album was "Hotel California", which became the theme for the album.[1] 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.'"[2]

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."[3]


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.[4] 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.[5]

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."[6]

Cover art

The front cover artwork is a photograph of the Beverly Hills Hotel by David Alexander with design and art direction by Kosh.[7] The rear album cover was shot in the lobby of the Lido Hotel in Hollywood.



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.[8]

Original vinyl pressings of Hotel California (Elektra/Asylum catalog no. 7E-1084) had custom picture labels of a blue Hotel California logo with a yellow background. These also had text engraved in the run-out groove of each side, continuing an in-joke trend the band had started with their third album On the Border. The text reads: Side one: "Is It 6 O'Clock Yet?"; Side two: "V.O.L. Is Five-Piece Live", indicating that the song "Victim of Love" was recorded live, with no overdubbing. Joe Walsh and Glenn Frey confirm this on the inner booklet of The Very Best Of. This only referred to the instrumental track, however; vocals were added later. This was in response to those who criticized the Eagles' practice of copious overdubbing of instruments. They wanted to demonstrate that they could play together without overdubs if they wanted to.

Critical reception

Contemporary reviews indicate critics found the album well made; some found it patchy and unexceptional, others rated it highly. Robert Christgau felt it was their "most substantial if not their most enjoyable LP",[9] while Charley Walters of Rolling Stone felt it showcased "both the best and worst tendencies of Los Angeles-situated rock".[10] Both critics picked on up on the album's California themes - Christgau remarking that while it may in places be "pretentious and condescending" and that "Don Henley is incapable of conveying a mental state as complex as self-criticism", the band couldn't have written the songs on side one "without caring about their California theme down deep";[9] while Walters felt the "lyrics present a convincing and unflattering portrait of the milieu itself", and that Don Henley's vocals express well "the weary disgust of a victim (or observer) of the region's luxurious excess".[10]

Billboard gave the album high praise: "The casually beautiful, quietly-intense multileveled vocal harmonies and brilliant original songs that meld solid emotional words with lovely melody lines are all back in force, keeping the Eagles at the acme of acoustic electric soft rock." It noted however that apart from what it called the "Procol Harum-type" title track, the album did not try out any new departure, nevertheless thought that "the album proves that there's a lot more left to explore profitably and artistically in the L.A. countryish-rock style."[11][12] Robert Hilburn of Los Angeles Times, writing after the band broke up, called the album "a legitimate rock masterpiece", in which the band "examined their recurring theme about the American Dream with more precision, power and daring than ever in such stark, uncompromising songs as "Hotel California" and "The Last Resort"."[13]



Year Winner Category
1978 "Hotel California" Record of the Year
1977 "New Kid in Town" Best Arrangement For Voices


Year Nominee Category
1978 "Hotel California" Song of the Year
1978 Hotel California Album of the Year
1977 Bill Szymczyk Producer of the Year

Later retrospective reviews are mixed. William Ruhlmann writing for AllMusic, feels that "Hotel California unveiled what seemed almost like a whole new band. It was a band that could be bombastic, but also one that made music worthy of the later tag of 'classic rock', music appropriate for the arenas and stadiums the band was playing."[14] Steve Holtje writing in CultureCatch in 2012, felt that even though "an awful lot of the album is snarky whining from co-leaders Don Henley and Glenn Frey, two guys who didn't really seem like they had that much they could legitimately complain about", in the final analysis "Hotel California and the underrated concept album Desperado stand as the group's greatest statements".[15] John Alroy of Wilson & Alroy feels that the album is "one of the biggest LPs of the entire decade, but only a few tracks are solid enough to have merited the hype".[16] The album was listed in 2003 at the number 37 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, and it noted: "The highlight is the title track, a monument to the rock-aristocrat decadence of the day and a feast of triple-guitar interplay."[17]

Commercial performance

The album first entered the Billboard 200 at No. 4,[18] reaching No. 1 in its fourth week in January 1977.[19][15] The album stayed on the top of the chart for eight weeks (non-consecutively), and it was certified Platinum by the RIAA in a week of release.[20] In its first year of release it sold nearly 6 million copies in the United States,[21] and by July 1978 it has sold 9.5 million copies worldwide (7 million in the US and 2.5 million elsewhere internationally).[22] In 2001, the album was certified 16× Platinum by the RIAA, denoting shipment of 16 million in the United States,[20][23] and has sold over 17 million copies in the US by 2013.[24] Worldwide, the album has sold 32 million copies.[25]

The album produced two No. 1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100: "New Kid in Town", on February 26, 1977, and "Hotel California" on May 7, 1977.[26]


Hotel California was the Eagles' sixth album (including Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975)), and fifth of original material. It became a critical and commercial success. In 2001, the TV network VH1 placed Hotel California at number 38 on their 100 Greatest Albums of All Time list. Hotel California was ranked 13th in a 2005 survey held by British television's Channel 4 to determine the 100 greatest albums of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked number 37 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.[17]

The song "Hotel California" was ranked number 49 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". The guitar duet at the end of the song was performed by Don Felder and Joe Walsh.

Track listing

Side one
No. TitleWriter(s)Lead vocals Length
1. "Hotel California"  Don Felder, Don Henley, Glenn FreyHenley 6:30
2. "New Kid in Town"  Henley, Frey, J. D. SoutherFrey 5:03
3. "Life in the Fast Lane"  Henley, Frey, Joe WalshHenley 4:46
4. "Wasted Time"  Henley, FreyHenley 4:55
Side two
No. TitleWriter(s)Lead vocals Length
1. "Wasted Time (Reprise)"  Henley, Frey, Jim Ed NormanInstrumental 1:22
2. "Victim of Love"  Felder, Henley, Frey, SoutherHenley 4:11
3. "Pretty Maids All in a Row"  Walsh, Joe VitaleWalsh 3:58
4. "Try and Love Again"  Randy MeisnerMeisner 5:10
5. "The Last Resort"  Henley, FreyHenley 7:28
Total length:


Adapted from AllMusic.[27]



Chart positions

Weekly charts

Chart Position
Australian Kent Music Report[28] 1
Austrian Albums Chart[29] 9
Canadian RPM Albums Chart[30] 1
Dutch Albums Chart[31] 1
French SNEP Albums Chart[32] 2
Italian Albums Chart[33] 12
Japanese Oricon LP Chart[34] 2
New Zealand Albums Chart[35] 1
Norwegian VG-lista Albums Chart[36] 1
Swedish Albums Chart[37] 3
UK Albums Chart[38] 2
US Billboard 200[39] 1
West German Media Control Albums Chart[40] 3

Year-end charts

Chart (1976) Position
Australian Albums Chart[28] 59
Chart (1977) Position
Australian Albums Chart[28] 4
Austrian Albums Chart[41] 12
Canadian Albums Chart[42] 2
Dutch Albums Chart[43] 1
French Albums Chart[44] 5
Italian Albums Chart[33] 45
Japanese Albums Chart[45] 2
UK Albums Chart[46] 9
US Billboard 200[47] 4
Chart (1978) Position
Dutch Albums Chart[48] 76


Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Austria (IFPI Austria)[49] Gold 25,000*
Australia (ARIA)[50] 8× Platinum 560,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[51] Diamond 1,000,000^
Finland (Musiikkituottajat)[52] Gold 30,933[52]
France (SNEP)[53] Diamond 1,213,000[54]
Germany (BVMI)[55] Platinum 500,000^
Hong Kong (IFPI Hong Kong)[56] Platinum 15,000*
Japan (Oricon Charts) 493,000[34]
New Zealand (RMNZ) 9× Platinum 135,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[57] 4× Platinum 400,000^
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[58] 2× Platinum 100,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[59] 6× Platinum 1,800,000^
United States (RIAA)[20] 16× Platinum 17,000,000[24]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

See also


  1. Browne, David (June 10, 2016). "Eagles' Complete Discography: Don Henley Looks Back". Rolling Stone.
  2. Vaughan, Andrew (2015). The Eagles FAQ: All That's Left to Know About Classic Rock's Superstars. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 165.
  3. Vaughan, Andrew (2015). The Eagles FAQ: All That's Left to Know About Classic Rock's Superstars. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 166.
  4. Richard Buskin (September 2010). "The Eagles 'Hotel California' Classic Tracks". Sound on Sound.
  5. Iommi, Tony (2011). Iron Man: My Journey Through Heaven and Hell with Black Sabbath. Da Capo Press. ISBN 978-0-30681-9551.
  6. "The Eagles Biography". Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
  7. Ochs, Micheael. 1000 Record Covers. Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-4085-8.
  8. Warner Premium Sound series website (in Japanese). Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  9. 1 2 Robert Christgau. "Hotel California".
  10. 1 2 Charley Walters (24 Feb 1977). "Hotel California".
  11. Spotlight. Billboard. December 18, 1976. p. 66.
  12. Gary Trust (May 7, 2014). "Rewinding The Charts: Eagles' 'Hotel California' Checks In At No. 1". Billboard.
  13. Robert Hilburn (May 23, 1982). "The Eagles - The Long Run is Over". Los Angeles Times.
  15. 1 2 Steve Holtje (January 14, 2012). "ANNIVERSARIES: Hotel California hits No. 1 on LP Chart 30 Years Ago".
  16. John Alroy. "The Eagles".
  17. 1 2 "37 Hotel California - The Eagles". Rolling Stone. November 1, 2003. Archived from the original on April 28, 2007.
  18. An Eagles Sellout. Billboard. January 15, 1977. p. 43.
  19. Billboard Top LPs and Tape. Billboard. January 15, 1977. p. 86.
  20. 1 2 3 "American album certifications – Eagles – Hotel California". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved June 27, 2012. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH
  21. Warner Record Group Posts $528 Mil in Best Sales Year. Billboard. January 21, 1978.
  22. Elektra/Asylum Intl Sales. Billboard. July 29, 1978.
  23. Jill Pesselnick (May 5, 2001). "Eagles, Madonna Achieve Historic Certification". Billboard.
  24. 1 2 Sullivan, Steve (October 4, 2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Volume 2. Scarecrow Press. pp. 135–137. ISBN 978-0810882959.
  25. Mark Savage. "Glenn Frey: How Hotel California destroyed The Eagles". BBC.
  26. Colin Larkin (27 May 2011). The Encyclopedia of Popular Music (5th Concise ed.). Omnibus Press. ISBN 9780857125958.
  27. "Hotel California - Eagles | Credits | AllMusic". AllMusic. Retrieved 1 December 2016.
  28. 1 2 3 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  29. " Eagles – Hotel California" (ASP). Hung Medien (in German). Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  30. "Top Albums/CDs - Volume 27, No. 1" (PHP). RPM. April 2, 1977. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  31. " Eagles – Hotel California" (ASP). Hung Medien (in Dutch). MegaCharts. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  32. "InfoDisc : Tous les Albums classés par Artiste > Choisir Un Artiste Dans la Liste" (in French). Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  33. 1 2 "Hit Parade Italia – Gli album più venduti del 1977" (in Italian). Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  34. 1 2 Oricon Album Chart Book: Complete Edition 1970-2005. Roppongi, Tokyo: Oricon Entertainment. 2006. ISBN 4-87131-077-9.
  35. " Eagles – Hotel California" (ASP). Hung Medien. Recording Industry Association of New Zealand. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  36. " Eagles – Hotel California" (ASP). Hung Medien. VG-lista. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  37. " Eagles – Hotel California" (ASP) (in Swedish). Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  38. "Eagles > Artists > Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  39. "allmusic ((( Hotel California > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums )))". Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  40. "Album Search: Eagles – Hotel California" (ASP) (in German). Media Control. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  41. " - Jahreshitparade 1977" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  42. "RPM Top 100 Albums of 1977". RPM. December 31, 1977. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  43. "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1977". Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  44. "Les Albums (CD) de 1977 par InfoDisc" (PHP) (in French). Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  45. 年間アルバムヒットチャート 1977年(昭和52年) [Japanese Year-End Albums Chart 1977] (in Japanese). Oricon. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  46. " UK Year-End Album Charts". Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  47. "Pop Albums". billboard. December 24, 1977.
  48. "Dutch charts jaaroverzichten 1978". Retrieved April 24, 2014.
  49. "Austrian album certifications – Eagles – Hotel California" (in German). IFPI Austria. Retrieved June 27, 2012. Enter Eagles in the field Interpret. Enter Hotel California in the field Titel. Select album in the field Format. Click Suchen
  50. "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1997 Albums". Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  51. "Canadian album certifications – Eagles – Hotel California". Music Canada. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  52. 1 2 "Eagles" (in Finnish). Musiikkituottajat – IFPI Finland. Retrieved 2013-08-28.
  53. "French album certifications – Eagles – Hotel California" (in French). InfoDisc. Retrieved June 27, 2012. Select EAGLES and click OK
  54. "Les Albums Diamant :". (in French). Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  55. "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Eagles; 'Hotel California')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved June 27, 2012.
  56. "IFPIHK Gold Disc Award − 1978". IFPI Hong Kong.
  57. "Spanish album certifications – Eagles – Hotel California" (PDF) (in Spanish). Productores de Música de España. Retrieved June 27, 2012. Select the "Chart", enter 2001 in the field "Year". Select '' in the field "Semana". Click on "Search Charts"
  58. "The Official Swiss Charts and Music Community: Awards (the Eagles; 'Hotel California')". IFPI Switzerland. Hung Medien. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  59. "British album certifications – Eagles – Hotel California". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved June 27, 2012. Enter Hotel California in the field Keywords. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Select Platinum in the field By Award. Click Search
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