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.