Wednesday, December 8, 1976

The Eagles released Hotel California: December 8, 1976

Originally posted 12/8/11. Updated 3/1/13.

left to right: Don Felder, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Glenn Frey, Randy Meisner

Release date: 8 December 1976
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) Hotel California (2/26/77, #1 US, #8 UK, #10 AC, sales: 0.5 m) / New Kid in Town (12/18/76, #1 US, #20 UK, #2 AC, #43 CW, sales: 0.5 m) / Life in the Fast Lane (5/14/77, #11 US) / Wasted Time / Wasted Time (Reprise) / Victim of Love / Pretty Maids All in a Row / Try and Love Again / The Last Resort

Sales (in millions): 16.8 US, 1.5 UK, 31.4 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 18 US, 2 UK


Review: Hotel California proved a major milestone for the already immensely popular Eagles. The departure of Bernie Leadon and the arrival of guitarist Joe Walsh shifted the group’s sound from its original more country-rock leanings to a more straightforward rock sound. Walsh and guitarist Don Felder give the Eagles “arena-rock heft” WR and have much to do with this becoming “the Eagles’ biggest-selling regular album release, and one of the most successful rock albums ever.” WR

Life in the Fast Lane

Nowhere is that stylistic shift more apparent than on Life in the Fast Lane, a song which “drew a line between the band’s country-tinged past and rock and roll future” TL as it “captured coke culture in a catchphrase.” BL

That song was one of six which Don Henley either wrote or co-wrote, signaling another main shift for the Eagles. He was now “the band’s dominant voice, both as a singer and a lyricist.” WR Though his songs, he “sketches a thematic statement that begins by using California as a metaphor for a dark, surreal world of dissipation; comments on the ephemeral nature of success and the attraction of excess; branches out into romantic disappointment; and finally sketches a broad, pessimistic history of America that borders on nihilism.” WR

Those themes are clearly on display on the title track, “a sprawling epic” TL that “framed Hollywood…in terms so impressively vague they seemed mythic.” BL The song had “Satanic undertones that might have been subconsciously cribbed from Jethro Tull’s ‘We Used to Know’ when the bands toured together. As for the warm smell of colitas, fans are split on whether the word is Spanish slang for cannabis buds or an easy lay. Given the band and the era, the safest guess is both.” TL

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