The Record Plant Diaries Project
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Birth of a Record: “Hotel California”


From from the interview transcript:

Bill Szymczyk, “Hotel California” Eagles Producer/Engineer

I was working at the Record Plant, and Joe Walsh was the one who said, “You’ve got to really talk to these guys (the Eagles).” I said, “I don’t want to do a country band. I want to do rock band,” and he said, “No, they want to rock, really. They want to rock.” I said, “Okay, we’ll talk.” It was Joe and the band and myself and their manager Irving Azoff.  We met at Chuck’s Steakhouse, which was the meeting place just down the street from the Record Plant. You went out of the studio to the back alley and into the back door of Chuck’s, and there was a big table there. We called that the Record Plant table. We had a meeting and they grilled me and I grilled them. The next day they called and said, “You’ve got the job.” I said, “Great, let’s go.”


Joe Walsh, Eagles’ Guitarist, and Bill Szymczyk

Bill:  I was cutting dubs in the early days and I remember getting a record and wondering how in the world did the producer (Phil Spector)  get seven minutes on a 45 single? It had to be mashed together. I started looking at it through the microscope on the lathe and I come to the closeout grooves and it reads, “Phil and Annette.” What — you can write stuff in there? That was it for me.

Joe:  That’s called a scribe and it’s usually a record company ID number or a pressing plant batch number in case they pressed a bad batch. We started doing that in the James Gang, writing a secret message just outside of the label where the groove is in the middle, where it goes around and around.

Bill:  Every time it would have something specifically to do with that particular album and I would never tell anybody what I was going to put in there, till I mastered it. They would get the staff pressing and go, “Oh, okay,” or “What?”

Joe:  What was on Hotel California? Do you remember?

Bill: “Is it 6 yet?”

Joe:  Because we didn’t drink until it was 6 o’clock.

Bill: I made a rule after it got a little unruly on Hotel California. Whenever you’re unruly, you need rules. I said, “All right, guys, we have to get in here at 2 o’clock in the afternoon and we’ve got to get work done until 6, so I don’t want any ingestion of anything other than coffee. You know what I mean.  So, In the middle of doing takes they’re all out in the studio and I’m maybe changing reels in the control room and you’d hear them muttering over the monitors “Is it 6 yet?” And somebody else would say, “It’d better be.” Or “It’s 6 in New York.”

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