Eagles co-founder Don Henley has lashed out at younger artists who have recently covered his work. In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, Henley specifically accused R&B singer Frank Ocean and folk-rock group Okkervil River of “stealing” his music and refusing to understand American copyright laws.
In 2011, Henley took legal action against Ocean in response to a song the latter recorded that sampled the entirety of “Hotel California” without Henley’s permission. The song, “American Wedding” has since leaked online, but has never seen an official release. That didn’t stop Henley from going off against the singer for using his work. “Mr. Ocean doesn’t seem to understand US copyright law,” Henley said. “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.” Henley also accused Ocean of being “arrogant” for refusing to meet with Henley’s representatives over the song.
Henley’s more recent spat with Okkervil River came after the band covered his solo hit “The End Of Innocence,” which the band had intended to release online. Henley’s gripe with the band came down to singer Will Sheff’s decision to alter the lyric of the song, which he says made the cover a legal matter. “You can’t re-write the lyrics to somebody else’s songs and record it and put it on the internet,” he said. “I’m sorry, but it wasn’t an improvement.” Henley then mused about how Sheff would react if Henley were to take one of his songs and alter the lyrics.
Both Ocean and Sheff have responded to Henley’s claims: Ocean, who seems to be taking the whole situation as a joke, said it was “awesome” that Henley threatened to sue him while wondering, “ain’t this guy rich as fuck?” Sheff took to Twitter to argue that adaptation has always been part of the creation of art, and he then added that he’d be happy to have Henley cover one of his songs.