Three men are being put on trial in New York for their alleged involvement in the theft of the manuscript for the Eagles’ song “Hotel California”.

Three men are being put on trial in New York for their alleged involvement in the theft of the manuscript for the Eagles’ song “Hotel California”.

During the mid-1970s, the Eagles were in the process of creating a mysterious and enigmatic new song.

Don Henley, accompanied by his bandmate Glenn Frey, wrote down ideas on a yellow notepad about a “dark desert highway” and a “lovely place” that had both opulent features and unsettling undertones. He also mentioned something cold, potentially caviar, Taittinger, or pink Champagne.

The song, Hotel California, became one of rock’s most indelible singles. And nearly 50 years later, those handwritten pages of lyrics-in-the-making have become the centre of an unusual criminal trial due to open on Wednesday.

Glenn Horowitz, a dealer of rare books; Craig Inciardi, a former curator at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Edward Kosinski, a seller of memorabilia, have been accused of collaborating to possess and attempt to sell manuscripts of the song “Hotel California” and other hits by the Eagles without proper authorization.

The trio has entered a plea of not guilty, and their attorneys have stated that the individuals did not commit any wrongdoing regarding the documents. They obtained the papers through a writer who had collaborated with the Eagles. However, the Manhattan district attorney’s office claims that the defendants schemed to conceal the ownership dispute of the documents, despite being aware of Henley’s statement that the pages were stolen.

(From left) Glenn Horowitz, Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinski in court after being indicted

Display the image in full screen mode.

Disputes over prized possessions are common, but legal proceedings such as this are infrequent. Often, conflicts are settled through confidential means, such as court cases or agreements to relinquish the objects.

Travis McDade, a law professor at the University of Illinois who specializes in rare document disputes, explained that in order to avoid prosecution, many individuals choose to simply surrender the item in question.

The situation regarding the Eagles manuscripts is unique in other aspects as well.

The main witness for the prosecution is Henley, who is set to testify during breaks in the Eagles’ tour. The trial, which does not have a jury, may provide insight into the band’s artistic methods and their glamorous lifestyle in the 1970s.

The subject at hand involves a collection of over 80 pages of preliminary song lyrics from the highly successful 1976 album Hotel California, which includes the lyrics to the popular and award-winning title track. This song is known for its iconic riff, famous guitar solo, and frequently referenced – some may say overused – line: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

According to Henley, the song explores the negative aspects of the American dream.

The pages also feature song lyrics such as “Life in the Fast Lane” and “New Kid in Town.” According to Eagles manager Irving Azoff, the documents are invaluable pieces of musical history.

Horowitz, Inciardi, and Kosinki have been accused of conspiring to hold stolen goods and committing other related crimes.

The individuals are not accused of physically taking the documents. No one else is accused either, however, the prosecution must still prove that the documents were stolen. The defense argues that this is not accurate.

The Eagles’ interactions with Ed Sanders, a writer and co-founder of the 1960s rock band the Fugs, played a significant role. Sanders had collaborated on an authorized biography of the Eagles in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but it was never released.

Sanders is not facing charges in this case. A voicemail requesting a response was sent to him.

He divested the pages to Horowitz, who subsequently transferred them to Inciardi and Kosinski.

Horowitz has experience managing large transactions involving rare books and archives, and has previously been involved in disputes over ownership. One such dispute involved documents related to Margaret Mitchell, the author of Gone With the Wind, which was eventually resolved.

According to the indictment, in 2005, Sanders informed Horowitz that he was given access to any necessary documents from Henley’s residence in Malibu, California while working on the Eagles book.

In 2012, Kosinski’s company put some pages up for auction. Henley’s lawyers approached them. According to the indictment, Horowitz, Inciardi, and Sanders discussed different versions of where the manuscripts came from.

Sanders discovered the pages in a dressing room backstage in one instance. In other cases, he acquired them from a stage assistant or by gathering various materials related to the Eagles from different individuals. In another situation, Horowitz proposed in 2017 that Frey provided them, with the intention of resolving the matter once and for all. However, Frey had passed away the year prior.

According to the indictment, Sanders may have provided or approved different explanations, but it is not clear what he may have said verbally. However, he seems to have rejected the story about the dressing room.

According to the indictment, Kosinski shared a possible reason, which was authorized by Sanders, with Henley’s attorney. He also reassured Sotheby’s that Henley had no rights to the papers and requested that any potential buyers be kept unaware of Henley’s objections.

In 2016, Sotheby’s included the lyrics of “Hotel California” in an auction, but later removed them upon discovering the ownership was uncertain. Sotheby’s is not facing any charges in relation to this matter and has chosen not to provide a statement.