Don Felder Reveals the Roots of "Hotel California" and Shows You How to Play It

The Eagles' 1976 song "Hotel California" makes just about every list of top guitar solos, including ours.

Credit for the guitar majesty of “Hotel California” is often given to Joe Walsh, who toughened up the Eagles’ laid-back California sound when he joined the band just prior to the Hotel California album’s recording.

Actually, the primary guitar heard throughout the solo belongs to Don Felder, who wrote the music for the track and actually conceived and played the solo’s intricate harmonies on his initial, instrumental demo.

“Every once in a while it seems like the cosmos part and something great plops into your lap,” Felder says.

In the video below, Felder explains the inspiration behind the song, which he co-wrote with Don Henley and Glenn Frey, who died in Jaunary at age 67. He also shows you how to play it in the middle video.

The interview was presented by The Jeff Probst Show. Felder starts by talking about his early guitar influences and the Eagles' working relationship before Probst asks him about the inspiration behind "Hotel California" at the 3:55 mark. In the setup, Probst mentions that Henley and Frey have suggested they turned Felder's rough demo into a finished song. He then invites Felder's wife, who's in the audience, to share a story about the original demo, which she says "is the whole song," thus negating Henley and Frey's claims.

Probst then hands things over to Felder, who explains how he wrote the song at a beach house and recorded the song on his tape deck, eventually finishing up the demo before presenting it to his band mates. He concludes the interview by performing the song on acoustic guitar. We've also included an excellent classic live performance of "Hotel California" from a 1977 Eagles show at the Capitol Centre.

The performance features Felder on his Gibson EDS-1275 double neck, and you can get some great views of him and guitarist Joe Walsh performing the guitar harmonies on the song's coda.

For more about this classic song, be sure to check out:

100 Greatest Guitar Solos: No. 8 — The Eagles' "Hotel California" (Don Felder, Joe Walsh)

Don Felder's "Hotel California" Guitar Lesson

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Guitar World Staff

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