December 1976: Eagles Release "Hotel California" the Album

Eagles Hotel CA
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(Warner Bros)

In 1977, there was no stopping the Eagles. If it wasn't for Fleetwood Mac and the monster LP, Rumours, the Eagles would have had the biggest album of the year with Hotel California. Still, the blockbuster full-length moved countless copies from the moment it was released on December 8, 1976.

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"I think that we were at the height of our powers. Every band has a peak, and that was ours," Don Henley told Rolling Stone. "And because of various factors – pressure to perform at peak level, pressure to deliver more of the same, the changing nature of the band dynamic, the constantly changing public tastes, etc. – it was impossible for us to take the time off that we needed in order to get our heads together, to regain a sense of perspective that we had lost."

The band was indeed in flux; Joe Walsh had taken over the lead guitar spot from Bernie Leadon, and Hotel California would be the last Eagles album to feature Randy Meisner on bass.

Hotel California produced a trio of hit singles. Lead track "New Kid in Town" was an immediate hit, soaring up the Hot 100 to land at #1 for the week of February 26, 1977.

The title track served as single number two, following "New Kid in Town" up the charts before peaking at the top spot for the week of May 7, 1977.

Third and final single, "Life in the Fast Lane," was another radio smash, rocking the Hot 100 before just missing the Top 10 with a #11 showing for the week of June 25, 1977. The #1 song in America that week: Marvin Gaye's "Got to Give It Up (Pt. 1)."

Hotel California was a regular presence at the top of the album charts, hitting #1 on the Billboard 200 no less than four separate occasions. It would hold the top spot for a five weeks straight at one point in April and May of 1977.

The record was a big hit come awards season, with "New Kid in Town" taking the Grammy for Best Vocal Arrangement for Two or More Voices. The title track was named Record of the Year at the same Grammys, while the LP would lose the coveted Album of the Year prize to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.

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