Don Felder’s Explanation On “Hotel California” Accusations

Don Felder’s Explanation On “Hotel California” Accusations | Society Of Rock Videos

via Eddie steady 19 / Youtube

Truly, the Eagles’ “Hotel California” in 1976 was a major success. Be it the album or the song itself, it both topped the national and international charts. It is regarded as one of the best rock tracks that have ever been produced. However, its popularity was followed by accusations regarding where the song initially came from.

One of the most controversial being thrown at the band was the accusation made by Ian Anderson, the frontman of another major band Jethro Tull. It all started when the audience heard the resemblance between “Hotel California” and one of Jethro Tull’s songs.

Formerly, Eagles shared the stage with the same band as their opening act for Jethro Tull in 1972 when the two bands toured together. At the time, Jethro Tull was already a critically acclaimed band while the Eagles, on the other hand, were just starting. On the said tour, Jethro Tull performed their hits, which includes their 1969 song “We Used To Know” which is later on people realized that the song was similar to 1976’s “Hotel California.”

For Anderson, maybe the band was subconsciously affected by “We Used To Know” when they heard it from them. He added that maybe they liked the melody, they reflected the sound into their music without being fully aware of it. Anderson said:

“The Eagles probably heard us play the song because that would have featured in the sets back then, and maybe it was just something they kind of picked up on subconsciously and introduced that chord sequence into their famous song ‘Hotel California’ sometime later.”

Meanwhile, the composer of “Hotel California,” Don Felder, debunked the accusations. Felder explained:

“I remember sitting in the living room on a spectacular July day with the doors wide open. I had a bathing suit on and was sitting on this couch, soaking wet, thinking the world is a wonderful place to be. I had this acoustic 12-string and started tinkling around with it, and those ‘Hotel California’ chords just kind of oozed out.”

Anderson noted that these types of resemblances are natural between artists, saying:

“It’s not plagiarism. It’s just the same chord sequence. It’s in a different time signature, different key, different context… It’s difficult to find a chord sequence that hasn’t been used and hasn’t been the focus of lots of pieces of music. Harmonic progression—it’s almost a mathematical certainty that you’re gonna crop up with the same thing sooner or later if you’re strumming a few chords on a guitar.”

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