Trial against Hotel California Don Henley from the Eagles takes.com2Fb02Fe02Fe81f5e969c468d28664ec92256922F2ae76e7404794a689e2c7cd3cd9eb8c5

Trial against “Hotel California”: Don Henley from the Eagles takes the stand

NEW YORK (AP) — Don Henley testified Monday that a “poor decision” led to authorities finding drugs and a 16-year-old sex worker suffering from an overdose at his Los Angeles home in 1980, which led to the arrest of the Eagles co-founder.

Henley was asked about the arrest while testifying in a criminal trial involving allegedly stolen handwritten draft lyrics to “Hotel California” and other Eagles hits.

Henley said he called a sex worker one evening in November 1980 because he wanted to “escape the depression I was in” over the breakup of the superstar band.

“I wanted to forget everything that happened with the band and made a bad decision that I still regret to this day. I have had to live with this for 44 years. I still live with it today, in this courtroom. Bad decision,” said the 76-year-old in a rough voice.

As in the past, Henley said he did not learn the girl's age until after his arrest and that he did cocaine with the girl and went to bed with her but never had sex with her.

He said he called the fire department, who checked the girl's health, determined she was fine and left, promising to take care of her.

He said she had recovered and was about to leave with a friend he had called when police arrived hours later.

Authorities said at the time they found cocaine, Quaaludes and marijuana at his Los Angeles home.

Henley pleaded no contest in 1981 to the charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was sentenced to probation and a $2,500 fine and applied for a drug education program to get some drug possession charges dismissed.

Henley was in the New York courtroom Monday to talk about something else – his version of how handwritten pages from the development of the band's blockbuster 1976 album made their way from his Southern California barn to New York auctions decades later.

But a prosecutor inquired about the arrest early, apparently to do so before defense attorneys could.

The Grammy-winning singer, drummer and vocal artists' rights activist is the prosecution's star witness in the trial in which three collectibles professionals are charged with, among other things, criminal possession of stolen property.

They are accused of colluding to conceal the questionable ownership of the documents in order to try to sell them and fend off Henley's demands for their return.

The defendants – rare book dealer Glenn Horowitz and rock memorabilia specialists Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinski – have pleaded not guilty. Their lawyers say there was nothing illegal about what happened to the text sheets.

It's about 100 sheets of notebook paper with the lyrics in preparation for several songs of the album “Hotel California”, including “Life in the Fast Lane”, “New Kid in Town” and the title song that became one of the most enduring Hits in rock. Famous for its long guitar solo and startlingly poetic lyrics, the song is still streamed hundreds of millions of times a year.

The defendants acquired the pages through writer Ed Sanders, who began working with the Eagles on a band biography in 1979, but it was never printed.

He sold the documents to Horowitz, who sold them to Kosinski and Inciardi. Kosinski has an auction site for rock and roll collectibles; At the time, Inciardi was a curator of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

In a 2005 email to Horowitz, Sanders said Henley's assistant sent him the documents for the biography project, according to the indictment.

However, according to court documents, Henley testified before a grand jury that he never gave the biographer the lyrics. He reported it stolen after Inciardi and Kosinski began offering it at various auctions in 2012.

Henley also bought back four sites in 2012 for $8,500. Kosinski's lawyers argued that the transaction implicitly recognized his ownership. By contrast, Eagles manager Irving Azoff testified last week that Henley just wanted the material back and was unaware at the time that more pages were available and would appear at additional auctions over the next four years.

Musician Don Henley, left, surrounded by security, arrives to testify at the Supreme Court on Monday, February 26, 2024, in New York.  The process of creating pages of draft text "Hotel California" and other Eagles hits, there will be a star witness: Don Henley.  The co-founder of the Eagles is scheduled to testify on Monday in the criminal trial against three professional collectors.  (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Musician Don Henley, left, surrounded by security, arrives to testify at the Supreme Court on Monday, February 26, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Meanwhile, Horowitz and Inciardi began fabricating alternative stories about how Sanders obtained the manuscripts, Manhattan prosecutors say.

Alternate stories included that they were left backstage at an Eagles concert, that Sanders received them from someone he couldn't remember, and that he got them from Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey, as per Emails in the indictment show. Frey had died by the time Horowitz raised this last option in 2017.

According to the emails, Sanders contributed to or signed some statements. He has not been accused of a crime and has not responded to messages seeking comment on the case.

Kosinski forwarded one of the various statements to Henley's attorney and then told an auction house that the rocker had “no claim” to the documents, the indictment says.

Henley is a vocal advocate for artists' rights to their work.

He clashed with Congress over a 1999 copyright change that affected musicians' ability to reclaim ownership of their old recordings from record labels. After complaints from Henley and other musicians, Congress repealed the change the next year.

Meanwhile, Henley helped form a musicians' rights group that opposed online file-sharing platforms from Congress to the Supreme Court. Some popular services at the time allowed users to share digital recordings for free. The music industry alleged that the exchanges violated copyright laws.

Henley and some other major artists welcomed a 2005 Supreme Court ruling that cleared the way for record companies to sue file-sharing services.

Henley also sued a Senate candidate over the unauthorized use of some of the musician's solo songs in a campaign ad. Another Henley suit hit a clothing company that made T-shirts emblazoned with a pun on his name. Both proceedings ended with settlements and apologies from the defendants.

Henley also testified before Congress in 2020, calling for copyright updates to combat online piracy.