Don Henley Files Lawsuit for Return of Handwritten "Hotel California" Lyrics

The documents were the subject of a criminal case that began in 2022 and remain in the custody of the District Attorney's Office in New York (DANY)

Photo: Derek Russell

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Jun 28, 2024

Shortly after a brawl poetically broke out while they were performing "Take It Easy" at one of their shows in 2022, the Eagles were implicated in a criminal case. Former Rock and Roll Hall of Fame curator Craig Inciardi and two other men were charged with alleged possession of Don Henley's stolen handwritten lyrics and conspiring to sell the documents at auction.

The charges against Inciardi and co. were dropped in March of this year, but the manuscripts — almost a hundred pages of Henley's notes and lyrics to songs like "Hotel California," "Life in the Fast Lane" and "New Kid in Town" — have remained in the custody of the District Attorney's Office of New York (DANY). The songwriter has now filed a lawsuit seeking to regain ownership of the lyric sheets.

"Don Henley has filed suit today in a New York federal court for return of property that was stolen from him — his private handwritten notes and lyrics to the iconic songs from the Hotel California album," Henley's lawyer, Daniel Petrocelli, said in a statement to Rolling Stone. "These 100 pages of personal lyric sheets belong to Mr. Henley and his family, and he has never authorized defendants or anyone else to peddle them for profit."

Inciardi, rock memorabilia dealer Edward Kosinski and rare books dealer Glenn Horowitz (who went unnamed in Henley's lawsuit) had acquired the documents from writer Ed Sanders, who had been given them decades earlier while working on a never-completed book on the Eagles, never returning them to Henley and the late Glenn Frey.

"Because Kosinski and Inciardi have wrongly claimed ownership of Henley's lyric sheets, a declaration from this Court that Henley is the lawful owner is needed to supply 'satisfactory proof of his title' and facilitate the DANY's return of Henley's lyric sheets to Henley," the filing reads. "Because Kosinski and Inciardi have also claimed title over Henley's lyric sheets, the issue must be decided in a civil court with appropriate jurisdiction." 

The songwriter is demanding a jury trial. The Eagles recently announced a residency at the Sphere, set to begin this September.

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