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Is this the Hotel California from the song?
Fact or Fiction?
I have to write this story about the Hotel California as a fiction because I don't have any evidence besides my wife's story and this very old photograph of a burning building to back me up. The only things I can assure you is that it was a burning building, and that all the cars and trucks in the photograph are in the right age group to be in a photograph from 1969.
A little history.
I met my wife over thirty years ago. A few months after we met she brought out one of her photo albums. While we were browsing through her photographic history, we came across an old photograph of a burning building. Hotel California, February 1969 was written on the back of the photo.
I asked her about the photograph and she said "oh that was the Hotel California." I asked her if it was the Hotel California from the Eagles song? She said "what song?" I went out to my van and found my 8-track tape of The Eagles and put it in her stereo. After she had listened to the song, she said "I don't know if it's the hotel in the song, but the song does fit the description of the hotel."
The burning building
My future bride told me about what led up to her taking photographs of this burning building.
She was living in El Centro, Ca. at the time the building burned down. She heard the siren from a fire truck go past her apartment. So she went outside to see where the fire truck was going. When she saw that it was the hotel burning, she ran to try to save the "giant size, round, Leopard skin sofa" that was in the hotels lobby. The police wouldn't let her go into the burning building, so she ran back to her place (about two blocks away) and grabbed her camera and took several pictures of the fire.
She said the only part of the hotel left standing after the fire was over was the fire escape.
The coincidences with the song
Like the desert highway in the song, the main highway coming into El Centro was called The Desert Highway.
My wife said "At night, coming into El Centro from the Desert highway, the first thing you saw was the lights of the Hotel California." Quoting from the song. "Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light."
The Hotel California in El Centro was accidentally burned down in 1969 by a wino's candle. Quotes from the song, "Please bring me my wine." "We haven't had that spirit here since 1969"
The hotel in El Centro had a courtyard. A quote from the song, "How they danced in the courtyard, Sweet Summer sweat"
At the time of the fire, the hotel was closed for the season and there were derelicts and wino's living in the basement.
The electricity to the building had been off about a month before the fire.
The fire in El Centro was accidentally caused by candles lit by derelicts and winos living in the basement. A quote from the song, "She lit up a candle, and she showed me the way."
All the winos and derelicts living in the basement of the building in El Centro died in the fire.
When you look at the photo, it looks like the building has what appears to be a bell tower. A quote from the song, "I heard a mission bell"
Do you believe?
I am aware that The Eagles say the song wasn't based on any real hotel.
I know that many of you won't believe this story. Many of you will.
For those that do believe. Please be advised. All I have as proof is a forty year old photograph of a burning building and my wife's description of what the building was. I haven't even been able to find anything about the fire or the building on the Internet.
In other words, you should take this story with a grain of salt.