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Eagles Camp Releases Statement Regarding Frank Ocean’s ‘Hotel California’ Sample

Eagles Frank Ocean
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images /

A spokesperson for the Eagles wants to set the record straight on the group’s opposition to Frank Ocean‘s sample of their hit ‘Hotel California.’ The group believes that Ocean’s song is “illegal” and the Eagles as a whole, not just singer Don Henley, are considering filing a lawsuit.

Ocean initially 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 f—in awesome.” While courts have ruled that many instances of sampling are legal, Eagles spokesperson Larry Solters says Ocean’s use of the song on his ‘American Wedding’ track goes way beyond that:

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.

The lawsuit threat sounds a bit more intimidating coming from Warner Music Group rather than just Don Henley, but would the group really want to take this matter to court? Besides the question of whether Ocean’s use could truly be described as a legal sample, the ‘American Wedding’ song appeared on a free mixtape called ‘Nostalgia, Ultra,’ so Ocean didn’t profit from his recording. Ocean wrote in his defense, “Why sue the new guy? I didn’t make a dime off that song. I released it for free. If anything I’m paying homage.”

All eyes are on Frank Ocean now. Things might get really interesting if he chooses to continue performing the song in concert!

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