Welcome to the 'Hotel California' Lawsuit

Criminal case begins for three men accused of trying to illegally sell draft lyrics by the Eagles
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 20, 2024 12:47 PM CST
Welcome to the 'Hotel California' Lawsuit
Members of The Eagles, from left, Timothy B. Schmit, Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Joe Walsh pose with an autographed guitar in 2013.   (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)

In the mid-1970s, the Eagles were working on a spooky, cryptic new song. On a lined yellow pad, Don Henley, with input from band co-founder Glenn Frey, jotted thoughts about "a dark desert highway" and "a lovely place" with a luxurious surface and ominous undertones. And something on ice, perhaps caviar or Taittinger—or pink Champagne? The song, "Hotel California," became one of rock's most indelible singles. And nearly a half-century later, those handwritten pages of lyrics-in-the-making have become the center of an unusual criminal trial set to open Wednesday, per the AP. Clashes over valuable collectibles abound, but criminal trials like this are rare.

Rare-book dealer Glenn Horowitz, former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator Craig Inciardi, and memorabilia seller Edward Kosinski are charged with conspiring to own and try to sell manuscripts of "Hotel California" and other Eagles hits without the right to do so. The three have pleaded not guilty, and their lawyers have said the men committed no crime with the papers, which they acquired via a writer who'd worked with the Eagles. But the Manhattan district attorney's office says the defendants connived to obscure the documents' disputed ownership, despite knowing that Henley said the pages were stolen.

The prosecutors' star witness is Henley himself, who is expected to testify between Eagles tour stops. The non-jury trial could offer a peek into the band's creative process and their '70s stardom. At issue are over 80 pages of draft lyrics from the blockbuster 1976 "Hotel California" album, including words to the chart-topping, Grammy-winning title cut. The pages also include lyrics from songs including "Life in the Fast Lane" and "New Kid in Town." Eagles manager Irving Azoff has called the documents "irreplaceable pieces of musical history." The AP has the full background of the somewhat convoluted case.

(More The Eagles stories.)

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