It has been more than two years since Frank Ocean produced and released his album, “Nostalgia, Ultra,” on his own, despite the fact that he knew he was going to have some issues with some of the songs he sampled. Specifically, he predicted that the Eagles would have a problem with him taking the entire musical part of “Hotel California” and replacing the lyrics with his own for the song, “American Wedding.” Sure enough, Don Henley and Co. refused to give Ocean permission to use their song and they demanded that he not release “American Wedding” OR ELSE!!! Well, two years later, Henley is still pretty pissed about it, especially since the song “leaked” online.
At the time, Ocean took to his Tumblr to claim that Henley was “intimidated” by his rendition and that he thought it was “f*cking awesome” that Henley wanted to sue, despite the fact that Ocean loves the Eagles. Henley saw that as arrogant, which is why he’s still bitching about it to the and threatening to sue.
“I heard it,” Henley said of American Wedding. “I was not impressed. He needs to come up with his own ideas and stop stealing stuff from already established works.”
“Mr Ocean doesn’t seem to understand US copyright law. Anyone who knows anything should know you cannot take a master track of a recording and write another song over the top of it. You just can’t do that. You can call it a tribute or whatever you want to call it, but it’s against the law. That’s a problem with some of the younger generation, they don’t understand the concept of intellectual property and copyright.”
“(Mr Ocean) was quite arrogant about it,” Henley said. “We tried to approach him calmly to talk reason to him via his managers and his attorneys and he wouldn’t listen. So finally we threatened to bring legal action against him. He was clearly in the wrong. I wouldn’t dream of doing something like that. What kind of ego is that? I don’t understand it.” (Via the Daily Telegraph)
Ocean’s not the only artist to “borrow” one of Henley’s songs to add some new flavor to an old hit. Okkervil River also remade “The End of the Innocence,” claiming that they love the song, but when Henley’s lawyers came calling, lead singer Will Sheff called him an “old-fashioned guy who doesn’t understand… it’s not like I was making money, I figure that’s all he f—ing cares about.” Meanwhile, Henley claimed that he wasn’t impressed by their remake, so that’s why Okkervil River had to “take it down.”
The obvious solution to this is for bands to stop paying tribute to anything that involves Don Henley. Maybe take that respect and admiration and give it to someone who deserves it, like Mr. Peter Cetera.