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Eagles’ Hotel California lyrics drama plays out in court

The Eagles front man Don Henley has said he was the victim of “extortion” as the trial began of three men accused of trying to sell around 100 pages of stolen notes from the band’s 1976 album “Hotel California”.

The large notebooks’ contents were the product of the band’s work and were “some of the stupid things we wrote down” before reaching final versions of hits including “Hotel California,” said Mr Henley, currently on a farewell world tour.

“They (were) not supposed to be seen,” the 76-year-old, who wore a suit and tie said.

Opposite him, three collectors were in the dock: Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinski who are charged with criminal possession of stolen goods, and Glenn Horowitz who is charged with attempted criminal possession.

All have pleaded not guilty, claiming to have legally acquired the disputed papers.

The case dates back to the late 1970s, when an author hired by the California rock band to write its biography was entrusted with the notes, which he never returned.

Mr Henley characterised this as theft, although the defence argues that the author is not on trial.

According to the Manhattan district attorney, the author eventually sold the pages in 2005 to Mr Horowitz, a rare book dealer, who in turn sold them to Mr Inciardi and Mr Kosinski.

Years after the band’s split, the musician saw a few pages surface on the internet, for the first time in 2012.
Mr Henley ended up acquiring them himself, for $8,500, because it was “the most expedient… most practical” way to reacquire the lyrics.

“I was buying my property back,” he said.

Other pages surfaced at auctions over the following years, including a batch of thirteen pages, handwritten for the song “Hotel California”.

“I was already extorted once,” said Henley, who in 2016 complained to the Manhattan prosecutor’s office, which brought the charges.

The trial will last several days.

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