Cool Covers: Listen to These Interesting Renditions of the Eagles’ “Hotel California”

With a trial over an allegedly stolen collection of Don Henley’s handwritten lyrics and notes to “Hotel California” starting Wednesday, February 21, the enduring 1976 Eagles song is back in the spotlight.

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Filled with enigmatic imagery about a man who stumbles on a remote desert hotel experiences a series of surreal and troubling encounters, the song has inspired quite a few artists to cover it.

[RELATED: 3 Men Charged with Stealing Don Henley’s Lyrics, Notes to Eagles’ 1976 Album Hotel California]

Here’s a look of a few interesting versions of “Hotel California.”

Gipsy Kings (1990)

Perhaps the best-known cover of “Hotel California” comes courtesy of the Gipsy Kings, a French-founded group whose members are from the Catalonia region of northeastern Spain. The band’s flamenco-style rendition first appeared on the 1990 compilation album Rubáiyát, which celebrated the 40th anniversary of Elektra Records.

The cover later was used in the classic 1989 Coen Brothers film The Big Lebowski. The song is played during a scene featuring John Turturro as a cocky bowler named Jesus Quintana.

The Gipsy Kings’ energetic rendition “Hotel California” showcases the group’s speedy Latin-flavored acoustic guitar licks, and shouted vocals sung in Spanish and English.

The Killers with Rhythms del Mundo (2009)

Alternative rockers The Killers teamed up with Rhythms del Mundo, a collective of talented Cuban musicians that included members of the legendary Buena Vista Social Club, to record a version of “Hotel California” in 2009. The song was the lead track on the album Rhythms del Mundo Classics.

Killer frontman Brandon Flowers delivers quavery yet powerful vocals, with music driven by rhythmic percussion and piano, acoustic guitar, and horns. The instrumental finale of the tune adds electric guitar to the horn-filled finish.

Frank Ocean, “American Wedding” (2011)

Singer-rapper Frank Ocean used the original version of “Hotel California” as the backing track for his song “American Wedding,” which appeared on his 2011 mixtape Nostalgia, Ultra. “American Wedding” features Ocean singing completely original lyrics, but using the same exact melody as “Hotel California.”

Henley didn’t take kindly to Ocean’s use of his band’s famous song. He threatened legal action against the younger artist, and called Ocean a “talentless little prick” in a 2015 interview.

Passenger (2017)

British indie-folk singer/songwriter Passenger, a.k.a. Michael Rosenberg, recorded a slightly stripped-down version of “Hotel California” for his 2017 covers album The Sunday Sessions.

Passenger’s rendition stays mostly true to the original, although the instrumentation is a bit quieter. For the instrumental finale, the track features an electric guitar paired with a keyboard, rather than two guitars dueling it out.

About “Hotel California”

The title track and centerpiece of the Eagles’ classic 1976 album hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in May 1977. It was co-written by Henley, Glenn Frey, and Don Felder, and featured a memorable dual guitar solo by Felder and Joe Walsh. The song won Record of the Year honors at the 1978 Grammys.

About the Trial over Stolen “Hotel California” Lyric Sheets

In July 2022, three men were criminally charged in a New York City court with possessing nearly 100 pages of Henley’s stolen handwritten notes and lyrics for songs from the Hotel California album, including its title track.

The men were charged with attempting to sell the materials, with an estimated value of more than $1 million, and lying to prospective buyers and law enforcement about how they obtained the materials.

When Henley learned of the pending sales, the artist filed a police report and demanded the materials be returned to him, according to court records.

The trial finally began on Wednesday, February 21, in a New York City court. Henley was expected to attend the proceedings.

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