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 on February 22, 1977.
The song Hotel California was performed live for the first time 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.
Michael Dunn of the Rock Star Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ is in a photo below with Randy taken at the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction in Las Vegas in 2008. He told me he had a very nice and fun visit with Randy that day. Thank you Michael for telling me the story that goes along with that photo.
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”. Directly below that audio is an audio of Randy’s isolated bass part for Hotel California. There are also several other interesting audios and videos related to the Hotel California album, including a couple from the Pawn Stars TV show.
“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.) Also, a follow-up article was published in the Palm Beach Post of South Florida in 2016.
Randy Meisner with Michael Dunn of the Scottsdale Arizona Rock Star Gallery – October 2008
This photo was taken at the Rock Star Gallery booth set up at the Barrett-Jackson Car Auction at the Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas. The car auction took place October 16-19, 2008, and it was the first of the Barrett-Jackson auctions to be held in Las Vegas. I talked with Michael Dunn, owner of the Rock Star Gallery, by phone, and he told me that Randy happened by the booth. Randy was by himself, and there was a jam session going on behind those gallery walls, and Randy walked in just as they were playing Hotel California. When Randy walked around the corner he was surprised and excited at seeing the framed display of the Eagles albums, and he started pointing out all his autographed signatures. Michael said that as Randy was leaving he stopped and sincerely thanked him for having this rock star gallery available for people to visit in person and to view online.
The Barrett-Jackson website honored Randy on August 1, 2023 with a photo of him from an auction in 2017. Bryan Frank, standing in front of the car Randy is in, is the son of Roger Frank. Roger and Randy were long-time friends, and Roger owned the Frank Implement John Deere dealership in Scottsbluff where Randy was employed for a time at the parts counter.
Hotel California album front (Beverly Hills Hotel on Sunset Blvd.) and back (Lido Apartment building)
Album sleeve front and back
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.”
“Setting out with photographer David Alexander, the designer shot a shortlist of three locations. Henley chose a dusk shot of the Beverly Hills Hotel at 9641 Sunset Blvd.”
The cover designer, Kosh, adds a little more to the story in this Goldmine article of Mar. 8, 2011.
Birth Of A Record: Hotel California
Bill Szymczyk and Joe Walsh were interviewed at NAMM (National Association of Music Merchants) in January 2016 at the Anaheim Convention Center. As Bill mentions, Glenn Frey had died a few days earlier, so this was a sad week for the Eagles.
Bill and Joe explain the process of making the Hotel California album, and, of course, Joe has some entertaining stories about that to tell.
Don Felder writing “Hotel California” at his rented Malibu beach house
From Don Felder’s book “Heaven and Hell My Life in the Eagles” pg. 166
Hotel California album
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”
Randy Meisner’s isolated bass in Hotel California
John Kosh – Designer of Hotel California album cover
Hotel California Live at the Capital Centre
March 21-22, 1977
Hotel California Live at the Forum
Don Felder sat down with Dan Rather for an interview. Don describes the process of how Hotel California was written.
Pawn Stars Season 18 Episode 3 – Part 1
A test pressing of the Hotel California album is brought in to sell
Pawn Stars Season 18 Episode 3 – Part 2
A test pressing of the Hotel California album is brought in to sell.
Fil from his Wings of Pegasus YouTube channel analyzes the guitar playing between Don Felder and Joe Walsh on Hotel California.
More audios (including Take It To the Limit) from the 1976 Forum show on the Forum page
Cameron Crowe interviewed Don Henley and Glenn Frey about the history of some of the Hotel California album songs – Aug. 2003
Hotel California album photo shoot
Norman Seeff, photographer
A very short video of the Hotel California photo shoot with Norman Seeff, photographer
Full-page ad on back cover of Sounds magazine – Dec. 11, 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.)
Independent (Long Beach, CA) – July 31, 1977
The Scene (Cleveland, OH) – Aug. 18-24, 1977
Record World magazine – June 26, 1976
WNEW-FM radio station visit
Cashbox – Aug. 28, 1976
“Which brings us to Hotel California, ‘I like to think that it’s not a bitter song,’ says Henley. ‘There’s a little compassion in it somewhere, I hope. Because I don’t feel totally that way about California. I love it and I hate it at the same time. But we’re just saying, look what’s happening’.”
Kingsport Times-News (Kingsport, TN) – Nov. 27, 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
The Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) – Dec. 9, 1976
“The biggest single is ‘Take It To the Limit,’ released last December and sung by Randy Meisner.”
Tulsa World (Tulsa, OK) – Dec. 24, 1976
LA Times (Los Angeles, CA) – Dec. 26, 1976
Kingsport Times-News (Kingsport, TN) – Jan. 1, 1977
“For both the Eagles and Ronstadt (in her last few albums) have shown a tendency to dwell on themes of lost love, love gone wrong and other sour subjects in a cynical way.”
“‘Victim of Love,’ ‘Pretty Maids All in a Row’ and ‘Try and Love Again’ follow. The latter is the lp’s most hopeful upbeat song with Randy Meisner vowing to forget a lost love for a new one.”
Atlanta Constitution (Atlanta, GA) – Jan. 8, 1977
“The Eagles, however, can keep coming back with good ones in the style of ‘The Best of My Love.’ On ‘Hotel California,’ there’s a song called ‘Try and Love Again’ and it may well be the best they’ve done.”
Columbus Ledger (Columbus, GA) – Jan. 9, 1977
Star-Gazette (Elmira, NY) – Jan. 15, 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
“Glenn Frey jumps out for a brief solo and then Randy Meisner breaks in for a beautiful falsetto similar to his in ‘Take it to the Limit’. It’s Meisner’s falsetto that turns the number from only mediocre to a winner.”
Blazer – Joliet Junior College student newspaper – (Joliet, IL) – Jan. 21, 1977
Record World – May 28, 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.”
Cover of Mar. 31-Apr. 6, 1977 issue
The Scene (Cleveland, OH) – Mar. 31-Apr. 6, 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
Bill Szymczyk talks about recording the Eagles’ albums
Tapeop.com – Sept-Oct 2014
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
How Eagles Classic “Hotel California” was recorded in South Florida
“The band and crew rented several homes in the area, the most popular being 461 Ocean Blvd. in Golden Beach, where Eric Clapton had stayed while recording his classic 1974 album, which he named after the address. ‘Everyone wanted to stay in Eric Clapton’s house,’ Szymczky recalls.”
The Palm Beach Post (Palm Beach, FL) – Dec. 5, 2016