Don Felder Reveals "Hotel California" Guitar Solos Were Mostly Improvised

Former Eagles guitarist Don Felder says the "Hotel California" dueling guitar leads that appeared on the song's 1977 hit studio recording were nearly the same as the parts he contemporaneously tracked when he demoed the song.

Felder says he came up with the chord progression while strumming a 12-string guitar on the couch at his Malibu beach house in 1976. He rushed to his room to record a demo.

“At the end of the demo, I made up what I thought would be a part that I would play and something that Joe would play,” Felder says in an interview with Ultimate Classic Rock.

Felder indicates he recorded the leads simply as guides with the expectation that he and Joe Walsh would further iron out the parts in the studio.

But when the two guitarists began working on new parts, Don Henley stopped them and insisted they play only what was on Felder's demo. But Felder didn't have it with him and he didn't remember what he played. 

“We were sitting in Miami in the recording studio’s doing those guitars,” Felder says. “I had left my original cassette in my studio in Los Angeles in Malibu. So I had to call my housekeeper, have her go find the cassette, put it in a blaster, play it over the phone, so we could record it in the studio in Miami. Then I had to sit down and learn what I had just made up, note for note from the hip because Don wanted it just like the demo. I would say over half of that solo on the end came off of my original demo.”

Felder went on to compliment Henley's lyric writing for the song and the singing drummer's resolve in pushing the record label to release the near seven-minute "Hotel California" as an AM radio single.

Read the whole interview here.

Felder is currently on tour with Styx and REO Speedwagon. Check out all the dates here


Photo: Getty Images

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Maria Milito

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