Inspiration: Don Felder Tells the Story Behind The Eagles' "Hotel California"

  • Don Felder (The Eagles)
  • “Hotel California” Hotel California (1976)

“I had just leased this house out on the beach at Malibu -- I guess it was around 1974 or ‘75.

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. I had a TEAC four-track set up in one of the back bedrooms and I ran back there to put this idea down before I forgot it.

I also had one of those Rhythm Ace [a Sixties-era drum machine made by Acetone] things, and I remember it was set to play this cha-chat beat. I play the 12 string on top of that.

A few days later I came up with bass line and mixed the whole thing to mono. Flenn had this idea [for the lyrics] -- the fantasy of California. It’s supposed to be microcosm of the world."

Find out what Felder is up to these days at

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Acoustic Nation

Acoustic Nation is written by Laura B. Whitmore, a music industry marketing veteran, music journalist and editor, who has contributed to, Guitar World, and others. She has interviewed hundreds of musicians and hosts the She Rocks Podcast. As the founder of the Women’s International Music Network, she advocates for women in the music industry and produces the annual She Rocks Awards. She is the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Positive Grid, making the world safe for guitar exploration everywhere! A guitarist and singer/songwriter, Laura is currently co-writing an album of pop songs that empower and energize girls.