The Hotel California album is the Eagles’ 5th studio album, and it was recorded by Bill Szymczyk at both Criteria Studios and the Record Plant during March-October 1976. The album was released Dec. 8, 1976. The song Hotel California was released as a single in February 1977.
The song was first performed live at Arizona State University in a concert on Oct. 15, 1976, which was four months before the song was officially released as a single.
Both a news story and a video about that 1976 concert and the Hotel California Arizona connection are on the Phoenix 12News site of Apr. 1, 2022.
The album was Joe Walsh’s first album and Randy’s last Eagles album. Was the Hotel California chord progression copied from a Jethro Tull song? An audio interview with Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull and an audio of Jethro Tull’s song is near the bottom of this page. The Eagles received many awards for this album, and photos are below.
Randy’s interview of years ago with Ken Sharp appeared in Rock Cellar magazine in November 2016. This is an excerpt from that interview of just the portion relating to the Hotel California album. 40 Years Later: Where is the Hotel California? is a short article about the Beverly Hills Hotel, which became the icon for the Hotel California.
At one time a movie producer was trying to convince the Eagles to make a movie centered around Hotel California. An article about that appeared in Ultimate Classic Rock magazine February 25, 2021.
There is a very interesting and entertaining audio below of the Eagles rehearsing in the studio for Hotel California and One Of These Nights. It includes them playing and singing and talking in between songs… “Randy’s gonna play his bass.”
“Home At Last”…it’s all in the details
When the Eagles were in Miami recording at Criteria Studios, they rented a house to stay in from “Home At Last”, which had become very popular and well known among bands staying in Miami. (Story is below.)
Hotel California album front (Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Blvd.) and back covers
Inside of album gatefold cover (Hotel California lyrics in right-hand margin) and photo used for inside cover
Randy Meisner, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Don Henley, Don Felder
“According to Don Henley, the sleeve of the Eagles’ 1976 album Hotel California was intended to convert an atmosphere of faded glory, loss of innocence and decadence.”
The cover designer, Kosh, adds a little more to the story in this Goldmine article of Mar. 8, 2011.
Album Song Listing
Bill Szymczyk talks to Colorado Music Experience about meeting the Eagles (29:55) and producing Hotel California (31:39). Actually, the entire podcast is very interesting to listen to, as Bill Szymczyk shares many stories about his producing career.
career-changing session with B.B. King (7:53), encouraging Joe Walsh’s move to Colorado (15:59), recording Barnstorm, the first album recorded at Caribou Ranch (17:20), producing the classic song “Rocky Mountain Way” (22:02), launching Tumbleweed records in Denver (27:30), meeting the Eagles (29:55), producing Hotel California (31:39), decoding vinyl graffiti (36:55), working with Bob Seger (43:12), and battling with the Who (44:02)
Studio rehearsals for Hotel California and One Of These Nights
– includes the talking and silly stuff in between songs –
“Randy’s gonna play his bass”
Hotel California live at the Forum – Oct. 1976
Hotel California album photo shoot
Norman Seeff, photographer
A very short video of the Hotel California photo shoot with Norman Seeff, photographer
Record World magazine front cover – May 8, 1976
This is the article on pg. 86 of Record World magazine that features the Eagles on the front cover. There is no writer credited for the article.
Record World magazine – May 8, 1976
History of Rock magazine – 1976
This is a very interesting 4-page interview with Glenn Frey & Don Henley. On the 4th page there are a lot of complimentary mentions of Randy.
(Click on each image to enlarge. The pdf version is better for reading the text.)
Record World magazine – June 26, 1976
Cashbox – Aug. 28, 1976
Melody Maker magazine – Dec. 1976
“And there’s times, says bassist Randy Meisner, when like, if I’m tired, sometimes I have to concentrate, and my concentration comes off like this.” He makes a mean look. “The guy that’s mad at everybody. But it’s really not. If you’re tired, sometimes it will come out like that.”
The Scene (Cleveland, OH) – Dec. 2, 1976
LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – Dec. 26, 1976
Kingsport Times-News (Kingsport, TN) – Jan. 1, 1977
“The biggest single is ‘Take It To the Limit,” released last December and sung by Randy Meisner.”
Clarksdale Press Register (Clarksdale, MS) – Jan. 16, 1977
“Take It To the Limit put Randy Meisner at the lead vocal mike for what was to be his strongest performance with the group.”
The Scene (Cleveland, OH) – Mar. 31, 1977
Record World – May 28, 1977
“One night while we were in New York on some business, Joe Walsh came into the studio and put in a guitar lick in ‘Thicker Than Water’. He came in again to do another track a couple of days later.”
Abilene Reporter-News (Abilene, TX) – June 12, 1977
Tampa Tribune (Tampa, FL) – July 8, 1977
“The Eagles are a rock and roll band and they are also very mellow at times. So some things the stations can play and others they can’t.”
Cashbox – Oct. 1, 1977
Billboard magazine ad – Nov. 26, 1977
Following their concert at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto on Mar. 30, 1977 the Eagles were presented with a platinum record for the Hotel California album.
Radio & Records magazine – Apr. 29, 1977
Cashbox magazine – May 7, 1977
The Eagles were presented with silver and gold discs for UK sales of both “Hotel California” and “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)” backstage after the Wembley concerts Apr. 28, 1977.
Don Felder, Joe Walsh, Randy Meisner, John Fruin (Managing Director of WEA UK), Don Henley, and Glenn Frey
Don Felder, Joe Walsh, Randy Meisner, Don Henley, and Glenn Frey (in front)
Cashbox magazine – May 28, 1977
The Eagles received a total of 85 platinum, gold, and silver records for overseas sales. An elaborate Hotel California party was held at Chasen’s Restaurant in Los Angeles in Nov. 1977.
Cashbox magazine – Nov. 26, 1977
Radio & Records magazine – Nov. 18, 1977
Billboard magazine – Nov. 26, 1977
Chasen’s Restaurant in Los Angeles – Nov. 1977
Plaque honoring the multiplatinum success of Hotel California hangs on the wall of Criteria Studios
Record World magazine – Jan. 21, 1978
LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – Feb. 24, 1978
LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – Feb. 25, 1978
Billboard magazine full-page ad – Mar. 11, 1978
Cashbox magazine – Feb. 25, 1978
The Eagles didn’t attend the 1978 Grammy ceremony, because they didn’t think they would win. Irving Azoff was there, however. The band also did not go to the Grammy party at the Biltmore Hotel with the other winners, but held their own Grammy party at the Bistro to meet with members of the press.
Glenn Frey and Randy Meisner at the Bistro
Glenn Frey and Randy Meisner at the Bistro
Was “Hotel California” based on the Jethro Tull song, “We Used To Know”?
“We Used To Know”
Hotel California album 40th Anniversary promo video & special CD set – 2017
Footage includes Randy
Bonus Disc Song Listing
The Eagles rented a house from “Home At Last” in Miami during the Hotel California recording at Criteria Studios in 1976.
“For them, Jenkins and Johnson noted the band’s preferences, went out and bought the stuff, including the appropriate beds and bedding, and swapped it with whatever was in the house the Eagles were to use. After the band left, anticipating future visits, the women rented a warehouse and put everything in storage. Every time the Eagles traipsed back into Miami to cut an album, Home At Last would do the switcheroos.”
Miami Herald (Miami, FL) – Oct. 28, 1983