How ‘Hotel California’ led to the Eagles’ downfall

The Eagles

The 1970s produced some of the best rock bands of all time, as well as some of the genre’s most popular songs. Half a century later, the decade’s contributions to rock have only grown in popularity. Across continents and cultures, Led Zeppelin’sStairway to Heaven” ignites a shared passion for the guitar in the souls of aspiring musicians. Queen’s epic ‘Bohemian Rhapsody‘ is any rocker’s go-to karaoke song. However, in the 1970s, the Eagles’ downfall resulted from their most significant contribution to rock history, unlike other bands.

Despite a prolific six-album run, the Eagles‘ name remains forever intertwined with a singular musical masterpiece. That song, one album, and two words: ‘Hotel California‘. ‘Hotel California’ instills pride in the band, the name of their chart-topping fifth album and most iconic single. Guitarist and vocalist Glenn Frey attributes the success of Hotel California to the band’s separation in 1980.

Until recently, I’ve explained The Eagles’ break-up in two words, ‘Hotel California’, and left it at that,” Frey reminisced. The Eagles achieved unprecedented critical and financial success with the album and its title track, which was released in 1976. The album sold over 32 million copies, and ‘Hotel California’ became one of the most recognizable rock songs of all time.

However, rather than relishing their popularity, the band struggled under the burden. “There’s only a handful of artists per decade that have success on that scale,” he said. “But the underside of it is following it up and The Long Run was the most difficult album I’ve ever been involved with.” The follow-up album, three years in the making, finally saw the light of day in 1979, eager to share its story with the world.
By that point, they had lost interest in their craft.

“It had stopped being fun,” Frey confessed. A dearth of touring, addiction struggles, and an embrace of lavish living intensified the band’s creative conflicts. “Going to the studio was like going to school – I simply didn’t want to go,” Frey said.

The band realized they were “not a replenishable source.” The strain to equal Hotel California’s lyrical prowess became overwhelming.

Frey explained, “We, especially Don, said a lot on Hotel California, and a large part of the challenge was, ‘What do we talk about now’? Then, because of our status as members of The Eagles, we had significantly fewer real-life experiences to draw from.”

Though they eventually finished their sixth record, it was to be their last. The band decided they didn’t want to go through the process again: “We figured it was the right time to call it a day.” I felt so relieved after making that decision.”

Despite reservations, The Long Run, though not matching Hotel California’s success, served as a fitting farewell for the rockers.

Visit Hotel California below.

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