Don Henley Threatens Frank Ocean with Legal Action over "Hotel California" Sample
Published Feb 29, 2012Odd Future have incited plenty of controversy with their rowdy shenanigans and profane subject matter, but their latest squabble is of a decidedly more musical variety, as the group's R&B crooner Frank Ocean is apparently embroiled in a copyright battle with Don Henley of the Eagles.
Henley is apparently unhappy that Frank sampled the Eagles' smash hit "Hotel California" for the song "American Wedding" from last year's Nostalgia, Ultra. mixtape. Frank wrote on his Tumblr, "DON HENLEY IS APPARENTLY INTIMIDATED BY MY RENDITION OF HOTEL CALIFORNIA.. He threatened to sue if I perform it again. I think that's fuckin awesome."
These aren't just empty words from Henley. If you try to listen to "American Wedding" on YouTube, you'll find that all versions (even live performances) have been muted. One clip now says "This video is no longer available due to a copyright claim by Warner Music Group."
While we can't say for certain whether this complaint came from the Eagles, it's worth noting that "Hotel California" came out on Asylum Records, which is a subsidiary of Warner.
Although there aren't any official versions of the song left on YouTube, you can watch a cover by a dude named Jamai below.
UPDATE: In a statement to Exclaim!, Don Henley's spokesperson Larry Solters has clarified the Eagles member's position over Frank Ocean's use of the song. The statement is as follows:
Frank Ocean did not merely "sample" a portion of the Eagles' "Hotel California"; he took the whole master track, plus the song's existing melody, and replaced the lyrics with his own. This is not creative, let alone "intimidating." It's illegal. For the record, Don Henley has not threatened or instituted any legal action against Frank Ocean, although the Eagles are now considering whether they should. Any further questions regarding this matter should be directed to Warner Music Group as it is the entity that currently owns the master recording and made the contact with Frank Ocean's representatives concerning his infringement of the master recording.