When The Eagles Were Accused Of Ripping ‘Hotel California’ Off From One Of Jethro Tull’s Songs
The Eagles have an exceptional music career that spans over more than three decades, during which the band released a number of monumental tracks such as ‘Take It Easy,’ ‘Desperado,’ and ‘One of These Nights.’ Thanks to these successful tracks and records, the band has managed to become one of the world’s best-selling bands, having sold more than 200 million records.
In addition to those legendary songs, the Eagles are also the creators of one of the most well-known tracks in the history of rock, ‘Hotel California.’ Over the years, the classic track has become a significant part of international popular culture and a staple in the band’s live performances. There’s no doubt that the song is phenomenal but the speculations about being stolen certainly led to some frowns.
Once fans noticed a great similarity between ‘Hotel California’ and one of Jethro Tull’s tracks named ‘We Used To Know,’ it was inevitable for the band to escape the spotilight. Therefore, Ian Anderson opened up about the matter once and implied that the Eagles might have been ‘influenced’ by them. Let’s see how Anderson strengthened the accusations of stealing the idea, only to back down within the same interview.
The Eagles Were First Blamed By Ian Anderson
During an interview with Songfacts, Jethro Tull lead singer Ian Anderson opened up about the similarity between one of his band’s tracks named ‘We Used to Know’ and ‘Hotel California.’ According to the musician, the Eagles might have been influenced by them while they were touring together and they heard the song.
As some of you might know, the Eagles were the opening act for Jethro Tull when the two bands toured together in 1972. During the interview, Ian Anderson revealed that there wasn’t any communication or interaction between both bands since they didn’t like each other. The members of the bands only saw each other for sound checks, rehearsals, and during shows.
According to the Jethro Tull frontman, the members of Eagles might have heard their track, ‘We Used To Know’ while they were touring together since they performed the track. While stating that they may be affected by the song ‘subconsciously’ and later appliedit to their track, the rocker sounded like he was trying to be polite about the situation.
During the interview, Ian Anderson stated:
“It was a piece of music that we were playing around the time… I believe it was late ’71, maybe early ’72 when we were on tour and we had a support band who had been signed up for the tour, and subsequently before the tour began, had a hit single. The song, I believe, is called ‘Take It Easy.’ And they were indeed the Eagles.
We didn’t interact with them very much because they were countrified, laid-back polite rock, and we were a bit wacky and English and doing weird stuff. And I don’t think they liked us, and we didn’t much like them. There was no communication, really, at all. Just a polite observance of each other’s space when it came to sound checks and showtime.
But they probably heard us play the song because that would have featured in the sets back then, and maybe it was just something they kind of picked up on subconsciously and introduced that chord sequence into their famous song ‘Hotel California’ sometime later.”
Ian Anderson’s following statement carries his opinion to another dimension. However, it was very clear that the musician was convinced about the heavy influence his band has over the Eagles’ track. While many fans would agree with this since the similarity is uncanny, the composer of the Eagles is the key figure related to the plagiarism accusations.
Ian Anderson Later Said There Wasn’t Any Plagiarism
During that same interview, Ian Anderson stated that there isn’t any direct plagiarism, there’s only the same chord sequence that makes two songs so similar to each other. Apparently, Anderson is just happy that the band created such a fine song and he felt nothing but flattered by the chord sequence the Eagles used.
In his own words, Anderson said:
“It’s not plagiarism. It’s just the same chord sequence. It’s in a different time signature, different key, different context. And it’s a very, very fine song that they wrote, so I can’t feel anything other than happiness for their sake, and I feel flattered had they come across that chord sequence.
It’s difficult to find a chord sequence that hasn’t been used and hasn’t been the focus of lots of pieces of music. Harmonic progression—it’s almost a mathematical certainty that you’re gonna crop up with the same thing sooner or later if you’re strumming a few chords on a guitar.”
Although there’s a similarity between ‘We Used To Know’ and ‘Hotel California,’ Jethro Tull singer’s opinion on the band’s influence during the tour doesn’t really add up with the song’s primary composer. It was Don Felder who composed the track initially and he joined the band in 1974, two years after the tour. Furthermore, Felder himself later stated that he had never heard of ‘We Used To Know’ when he wrote the song which proves how ‘Hotel California’ is a timeless track that isn’t a rip-off.
You can listen to ‘Hotel California’ and ‘We Used To Know’ below to decide for yourself.