Hotel California – Urban Legend?

Hotel California, Around San Francisco, California.

The Hotel California, Fact myth or legend?
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Review by Leaf McGowan/Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions ~

“The Hotel California” ~
A fictional place, but full of urban myths and legends.

The “California Hotel” photo above, is NOT of course the place of the legend from the Song, nor was it the headquarters for Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan. I’m actually not sure of the history of the actual hotel in this photo, but it called to mind my memories about this urban legend. (The photo above MIGHT be the California Hotel of historic landmarks, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_Hotel as it was in Oakland. The California Hotel historic is a important cultural center for the African-American community of San Francisco’s East ay during the 40’s-60’s, it experienced severe economic difficulties and turned into subsidized housing in the 80s)

I first came across the urban legend in 1990 at the Starwood festival when I was hanging out with a Satanist from the Church of Satan who first told me the tale … “one of the members of the Eagles was at this bar and got drunk with Anton LaVey’s daughter, she brought him home that night to her hotel room (at the Hotel California where supposedly the headquarters of the Church of Satan resided), they became lovers. Apparently he was so tied up in the affair with her that he disregarded showing up to band practice or responsibilities, and in a sense “never could leave” the hotel. When He snapped out of it, he apparently wrote the song about the experience hanging with the Church of Satan. A similar tale was told to me by my mentor Isaac Bonewits, founder of ADF (Ar nDraoicht Fein – A Druid Fellowship) who briefly joined the Church in his youth, but was so rambunctious and a trouble maker, the Church of Satan actually kicked him out of their group. (I do know that to be true as I’ve seen historic film reels of him in their ranks. Apparently he was recruited after creating a parodic devil’s throne upon which he proselytized on at UoC Berkeley to harass the local bible thumper on campus. They ran across him, were impressed, and asked him to join. )

I digress, back to the original legend. Some claim that Larry Salter, the Eagle’s manage admitted in the Waco Tribune-Herald (Feb. 28, 1982) that the Eagles were involved with the Church of Satan. Oddly the Church of Satan was first legally registered as “Hotel California” (legal entity name). But the Eagles claim far and wide, they were not associated with the Church and it was a leap that people jumped to. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hotel_California)

The Eagles claim that the “Hotel California” is an allegory about hedonism and greed in Southern California in the 1970s. As they first experienced California at that time, they were impressioned that California was about money, drugs, women, and fame – true hedonism, and they were disquieted by it all pushing that un-ease into their lyrics to warn others about the dark underside of such adulation – “a loss of innocence”, corruption of the artist in California imprisoned in a gilded prison that the artist freely enters that he cannot leave. It is not actually a place, but a metaphor of the west’s music industry and its effect on musicians ensnared by it. (http://www.snopes.com/music/songs/hotel.asp)

To make matters worse, many conspiracy theorists have marked that “Anton LaVey” (leader of the Church of Satan, San Francisco) can be seen in the balcony window as depicted on the album cover for the record “Hotel California”.


    Mirrors on the ceiling,
    The pink champagne on ice
    And she said ‘We are all just prisoners here, of our own device’
    And in the master’s chambers,
    They gathered for the feast
    They stab it with their steely knives,
    But they just can’t kill the beast

    Last thing I remember, I was
    Running for the door
    I had to find the passage back
    To the place I was before
    ‘Relax,’ said the night man,
    ‘We are programmed to receive.
    You can check-out any time you like,
    But you can never leave!’

The urban myth has odd facts and twisted thoughts behind it, and whether or not those with the inside knowledge are telling the truth and the Eagles are covering it up to save their reputation, or it is quite a bit of hog-wash and conjecture, we’ll never know. Frey and Henley claim that as much as people want to know what the song was about, they really don’t know themselves. It was an attempt at a “twilight zone” influence and many beliefs are abound. (http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-35347075)

Of course the fundamentalist Christian organizations still claim it is a Satanic song, the band was gifted their success by dealing with the Devil (dueling banjos) at the crossroads giving their lives for their success. They won’t let go of this urban legend regardless. (https://ministryofrock.wordpress.com/2015/10/10/is-hotel-california-satanic/, http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Wicca%20&%20Witchcraft/anton_lavey2.htm, https://www.quora.com/What-is-the-song-meaning-of-Hotel-California, https://stewartstaffordblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/does-satan-reside-at-the-hotel-california/)

And Cracked hosts a good explanation of it all here: http://www.cracked.com/article_19454_5-famous-hidden-song-meanings-that-are-total-b.s..html

If you would like to contact the author about this review, need a re-review, would like to advertise on this page, or have information to add, please contact us at technogypsie@gmail.com.

Hotel California, Around San Francisco, California. (http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/?p=33601) ~ Pacific Coast Highway 101 – Driving North to Oregon through California – Great Pacific Northwest Move 2013. Photos from Thursday, 26 September 2013. (c) 2013 – photo by Leaf McGowan, Thomas Baurley, Technogypsie Productions (www.technogypsie.com/photography/). Purchase rights and/or permissions to use can be obtained at site listed here. To follow the adventure, visit http://www.technogypsie.com/chronicles/. To read reviews visit http://www.technogypsie.com/reviews/.

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