Don Henley Threatens to Sue Frank Ocean


Don Henley, the drum-playing lead singer of The Eagles, is allegedly unhappy with Odd Future crooner Frank Ocean. Last night, Ocean wrote on his Tumblr that Henley has threatened to sue if Ocean’s “American Wedding,” which samples The Eagles’ “Hotel California,” is ever played live again. Ocean reacted:

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.

Ocean’s live rendition of “American Wedding” includes him jamming out to the guitar solo bridge via the video game Guitar Hero. Live clips of him performing “American Wedding” on YouTube are now muted, bearing the disclaimer: “This video contains an audio track that has not been authorized by all copyright holders. The audio has been disabled.”

Last summer, Def Jam planned to re-release Ocean’s Nostalgia, Ultra mixtape. Speaking about the re-packaged project—referred to as Nostalgia, Lite and ultimately never released—Ocean told MTV, “The Eagles sample has no chance in hell of being cleared. Coldplay sample, possibly.”

UPDATE, Thursday, 3/1/12: Don Henley’s spokesperson, Larry Solters, has issued a statement regarding Ocean’s claims that Henley has threatened to sue over “American Wedding.”

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.

POSTED February 29, 2012 11:31AM IN MUSIC NEWS Comments (8) TAGS: , ,




  1. The Dude says:

    I hate the Eagles even more now.

  2. Zeke Venegas says:

    HAHAH, Thats low, people are just upset at the new talent thats taking over.

  3. Hetal says:

    This is exactly why I never was impressed by Frank Ocean’s much lauded “writing skills” in hip-hop circles.

    “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…”

    And yes, Frank did the same thing with the Coldplay song on “Strawberry Swing.” I think hip-hop fans’ unfamiliarity with non-rap classics makes them think he’s a genius for “writing dope melodies.”

  4. Chris says:

    I like frank ocean but the eagles have every right to say this. It’s almost embarrassing how uncreative he is on these songs anyway.

  5. disphunk says:

    Hetal summarized it well. Although I will add, that one should give Frank credit for his ear. He has the talent in hearing good melodies and harmonies, and his own spin often adds a chilling pathos.

    To “hate” the Eagles though? Without artists like the Eagles, CCR, Dylan, Janis Joplin, etc. – question whether people like Coldplay or Frank would even exist in the capacity they do today. Nobody is truly original, everyone is influenced by something. It’s what you do with those influences that set you apart – but you can’t just NOT give credit to your influences either.

    To sample someone’s work – their hard work – without permission, is simply wrong. Musicians from Henley’s era poured a lot of heart and soul into their work, and a serious musician pays respect to that.

    For the record, There Will Be Tears is also a direct, unedited sample.

  6. lw says:

    is it OK for don henley or anyone else to stop def jam from (re-)releasing this frank ocean recording?

    what if he said, “alright, you can use this song but you have to give me $1,000,000 plus 100% of future revenues?”

    was it “wrong” for frank ocean to create the song in the first place?

    just so i make my position clear: “originality” is a myth. no one makes up melodies out of thin air. be cool to each other.

  7. Thumperton says:

    Frank credits the Eagles, AND he credited Mr. Hudson, as well as Coldplay & everybody else he sampled.

    he also never SOLD nor ATTEMPTED to sell any of his renditions of their songs. he put them out on a mixtape that he gave away for free. precisely because he knew they could’nt get cleared officially, & just put them out for the free for the sake of the art.

    I still want them to release the Nostalgia LITE ep, all properly mixed & mastered, without the unclearable mixtape songs + a few new bonus tracks added in.

    I personally never really liked that ‘American Wedding’ track, — it’s average compared to most of his shit & it’s over a played out ass sample, but most his shit is amazing & very original…

  8. xdonx says:

    Heh heh heh heh… Well, I do like to check out to see what Eagles fans’ opinions are.

    (Seriously, people? This isn’t the Rolling Stone site; Eagles/Henley apologists should probably bookmark other sites for their music news, if this kind of thing is unsettling to you in 2012.)

    Anyhow: Frank Ocean developed new lyrics & a new vocal melody for an existing song. Saying that’s not creative means you don’t know what “creative” means. Sure, he jacked an entire song to use as his backing track. It’s not the first, or the last time this will have happened. Doesn’t mean it wasn’t a creative endeavor. If you want to say that it’s not, ask any singer/guitarist pair (Plant/Page, Jagger/Richards, etc.) if they never wrote a song where the music came first.

    As for Hetal’s talk about “non-rap classics,” I’ll give you “Hotel California” in terms of classic rock posterity, but Coldplay, dude? Put it this way: I listen to a lot of music. I literally have probably four or five thousand CDs & albums. I’m not saying I’m the world’s foremost expert on music, or even close—but I’m not about to concede a song is a “classic” if I don’t even recognize it under Frank Ocean’s vocals. If it’s some kind of Hall of Fame-level song, I should have heard it somewhere.

    Plus, we’re talking about Coldplay & the Eagles, here. These are not the names one looks to for musical or artistic innovation. They’re multi-national corporations in & of themselves, who make music for beer & car commercials.

    But that brings me back to where I came in, pretty much.