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Myths About The Eagles' Hotel California

Updated on June 30, 2015

Front Album Cover

Truth Or Myth


You can’t kill some myths although they’ve been disproved time and again. The lyrics and album cover photo of the Eagles' signature tune “Hotel California” are some of these. The popular 1970’s song tells the story of a weary traveler who checks into a luxurious, upscale hotel only to discover all may not be as it appears.

But according to some, even the album cover photographs depict eerie images of satanic characters…images that didn’t appear on the original negatives but did on the album cover.

In fact, the average listener might deduce there are hidden dark-sided overtones with hints to evil satanic activities going on there. Here’s an example of the lyrics pointing to this is "You can check out anytime you like/ But you can never leave."

The music to the song is lively and entertaining so many people might not listen to the lyrics closely. If they did they would be introduced to words like "colitis" and "Tiffany-twisted" The casual listener, before listening closely, might conclude Hotel California might really be a “lovely place” to spend some R&R.

Back Album Cover

Satanic Overtones

Eagles’ guitarist Don Felder wrote the tune for "Hotel California". He explained the song was inspired when arriving in Los Angeles filled with high expectations and dreams that were later shattered. "If you drive into LA at night you can just see this glow on the horizon of lights and the images that start running through your head of Hollywood and all the dreams that you have", Felder said.

Therefore, the song must be warning about the overindulgences of the rock n' roll lifestyle, right? Maybe not, at least according to rumor mongers, who continually insist the music has sinister connotations.

Myths Abound

There are many myths and stories floating around about “Hotel California”. Very few, if any, have any substance. For instance, one myth claims the name refers to a mental hospital in Camarillo, CA.

Other stories actually turned out to be nothing more than fraud. Take the case of the “Hotel California in Todos Santos, Mexico. In the 1980s, rumor had it Todos Santos was THE “Hotel California” mentioned in the famous Eagles' song.

As journalists learned of the rumor, the story soon became legend. Sensationalism was the name of their game. No true investigative reporting was done about digging up the facts. The writers already knew what they were going to write before beginning their investigative tour of the small town.

The truth of the matter was, a man in town claimed to have started the rumor. The town was poor and he figured the story might lure tourists and bring some prosperity to their community. He told the story to everybody who would listen that this was indeed THE “Hotel California”. That the Eagles had stayed there and Don Henley wrote the song right there, while renting a room for $2.00 a night.

In 1997, the famous travel writer Joe Cummings decided something about the story didn’t seem kosher. So, he asked Don Henley about the hotel in Todos Santos. His reply was "I can tell you unequivocally, that neither myself nor any of the other band members have had any sort of association, business or pleasure, with that establishment."

It's a theme running throughout American history…the American dream and those that never found it. Like the gold miners who never found their fortune or those who came to America seeking a better life and found only misery in overcrowded cities. And yet, they held on to that dream. Maybe, just maybe, the music is only an allegory for broken dreams.

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    • Say Yes To Life profile image

      Yoleen Lucas 

      5 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

      As a native Californian, this album has always been special to me. Regarding the last phrase, "You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave" - that's because "Hotel California" is a state of mind. Once your mind is "Tiffany Twisted", it's virtually impossible to straighten out. You realize drug addiction is part of that...

      If I had that kind of money, I'd definitely put it to better use!

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Variety is the spice of life Alastar. To be a good writer one must be versatile. But, usually, I write about things which capture my interest. If I don't know about something, I'm sure there are many others...so I write.

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow John. You probably have more interesting hubs on a wider variety than any other writer on HP. Was looking for the Valentich one but saw this and had to check it out. You do a good research on dis-pealing a lot of the rumors about this album. One though, unless mistaken- had Henley admitting that Anton LaVey and his satanic church might have been inferred in the lyrics or something similar. Not sure but folk will read a lot into these hit songs. Remember Paul is dead from Beatles..lol Voted up!

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      It could very well be...stranger things have happened.

    • miss_jkim profile image

      miss_jkim 

      7 years ago

      Could it be, just maybe, that the band itself started all the wild stories and rumors? Great way to keep those sales up and to get non-stop airtime for. . . how many years now?

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 

      7 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      This is GREAT! JY...I love your style. You write so intelligently and with facts to support your hypothesis. BTW, I love this music; the Eagles, this particular selection. Over the door of my cabin which was situated in the hills above St. Helena, Ca....was a hand carved in wood sign made by a friend....

      "HOTEL CALIFORNIA"

      hmmmmmmmmmmm....who could have done that???

    • JY3502 profile imageAUTHOR

      John Young 

      7 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Hey! Ain't you the one who thinks there was a JFK conspiracy?

    • profile image

      SuperDave 

      7 years ago

      Interesting. Still, you have to wonder about all those references in one song.

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