Joe Satriani Says Don Henley Pushed The Eagles To Re-record ‘Hotel California’
During a recent appearance on The Jasta Show, Joe Satriani reflected on the importance of dropping a song’s key for a lead singer. The guitarist recalled a story regarding the Eagles song ‘Hotel California’ and said that Don Felder and Joe Walsh had to re-record the song for Don Henley after it was completely finished.
The Eagles released ‘Hotel California‘ as a single from their fifth studio album of the same name on February 22, 1977. The song is considered the band’s most famous track thanks to its extended guitar coda that earned it the informal title of best guitar solo of all time by Guitarist readers. It was also awarded the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978.
As for its commercial success, ‘Hotel California’ reached the no. 1 position on the Billboard Hot 100 and reached the top ten of several international charts. The band has performed the song more than 1,000 times during their live shows, and although its sound is one of their fans’ favorite, the band members experienced a long and tangled journey as they recorded the song.
The Eagles recorded the track with Don Henley on lead vocal three times, twice at the Record Plant in Los Angeles and finally at the Criteria Studios in Miami. The band first recorded a riff, but its key was too high for Don Henley’s voice. Therefore, Felder lowered the key from E minor, eventually settling on B minor.
At the Criteria Studios, the band fine-tuned the song’s instrumentation and the lyrics. The Eagles also recorded numerous takes of ‘Hotel California’ in Miami. Eventually, they selected the five or six best takes, and their best parts were then spliced together to create the released version we all know today.
During a recent interview, Joe Satriani opened up about having a perfect song to play on the guitar. The guitarist also reflected on adjusting the key to the lead singer as he has worked with numerous vocalists over his music career. The first song he came up with to give an example to this situation was the Eagles classic, ‘Hotel California.’
Satriani told the story of how Don Felder and Joe Walsh finished recording the song’s guitar parts, only to be informed by Don Henley that they needed to re-record it in a different key. The musician sounded as if he felt terrible for Felder and Walsh since the duo had to perform and re-record the entire song to match it to Henley’s vocals.
Satriani’s story about ‘Hotel California’ follows:
“Sometimes, you bring in a song that’s perfect for the guitar. It’s like ‘Hotel California.’ I don’t know if you know this, but Don Felder and Joe Walsh worked out and recorded all the guitars in an entirely different key. It was a beautiful work of art, and Don Henley comes in and says, ‘That’s really great. Now, I think we gotta do it in this key.’ They were like, ‘What!‘ They literally had to re-record the whole song in an entirely different key, all those guitar parts.”
You can watch the interview below.