It's one of the most loved travel songs of all time. And February 26th marked the 40th anniversary of the Eagles' Hotel California.
It really was forty years ago, in 1977, the band's most popular song was released as a single from the Eagles' album of the same name, and entered the Billboard Hot 100 charts.
Hotel California quickly won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1978. But it also became a cultural icon for generations since. Its guitar solo is consistently named one of the greatest ever, and the roadtrip song is now in the Grammy Hall of Fame. Want it playing in your head the rest of the day? Here's a link to the Eagle's performing it. (Photo: The Eagles in concert performing Hotel California, 2010 tour in Australia. Photo Credit.)
So where is Hotel California? Well, the album cover art made it pretty clear. It featured a picture of the fabled Beverly Hills Hotel.
Somehow, fans with big imaginations wove conspiracies about a deeper, hidden meaning, but the band members say it's just not so. Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Don Felder share writing credits for the song, and Don Henley has made it very clear that the song was about 'a journey from innocence to experience... that's all…'
'We were all middle class kids from the Midwest, ‘Hotel California’ was our interpretation of the high life in L.A.'
The Beverly Hills Hotel is still the essence of Hollywood's luxury pedigree. The Mediterranean Revival style hotel, in its trademark pale pink and green, is one of the most renowned hotels in the world.
Constructed in 1912, in the middle of bean fields where rich polo players used to practice, the Beverly Hills Hotel was built BEFORE that city's existence. The hotel was strategically built on a prominence above the main road, and resembled a palatial, colonial mansion. Each of the rooms has its own balcony and is designed in the Beverly Hills Hotel colors. The Sunroom of the hotel, containing Californian craftsman furniture, provides vistas of the Pacific Ocean.
Polo players were quickly replaced by the cream of Hollywood society: film stars, studio bosses, celebrities, and rock stars. In its earliest days, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Rudolph Valentino, and Will Rogers flocked to the new destination, ultimately building homes nearby.
They transformed the bean fields to one of the most prestigious addresses in the world. The Beverly Hills Hotel is the prime occupant of Sunset Boulevard, in the city that established itself around the hotel, and adopted the hotel's name.
Beverly Hills became a symbol of the glamorous 50's and 60's, and the Beverly Hills Hotel welcomed royalty like Princess Margaret, Princess Grace, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who rubbed elbows with leading lights of Hollywood: John Wayne, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack, Marilyn Monroe, Lauren Bacall, the Beatles… the list goes on and on.
The Beverly Hills Hotel became known as the 'Pink Palace', with legendary stories emanating from the hotel's guest rooms, bungalows in the 12 acres of gardens, and the Sand and Pool Club, whose white sand was imported from Arizona, and made the pool area look like a beach.
Old Hollywood lives on today. The Beverly Hills Hotel had a100-million-dollar-plus renovation in the 1990's, and more remodeling and restoration for its 100th anniversary in 2012. That year, the hotel was named the first historic landmark in Beverly Hills.
Today, the Eagles' 'Hotel California' is part of the Dorchester Collection of luxury hotels, and guests can still soak in the atmosphere of legendary Hollywood glamour.
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