'Hotel California' lyrics trial: 3 men accused of trying to sell song manuscripts

Photo of EAGLES; L-R: Randy Meisner, Glenn Frey, Don Felder and Joe Walsh performing live onstage on Hotel California tour.

One of the most popular rock songs, "Hotel California," is at the center of a criminal trial involving a noted rare-book dealer, a former Rock & Roll Hall of Fame curator, and a collectibles seller.

These three men are charged with conspiring to own and try to sell manuscripts of that song's lyrics along with other hits from the iconic Eagles without the right to do so, according to a report from the Associated Press. 

Glenn Horowitz, Craig Inciardi and Edward Kosinski ahve pleaded not guilty and their lawyers have said the men committed no crime.

How did they get the manuscripts?

Their lawyers say the men obtained the papers through a writer who worked with the Eagles. 

However, the Manhattan district attorney’s office says the defendants connived to obscure the documents’ disputed ownership, despite knowing that Henley said the pages were stolen.

What do the manuscripts contain? 

At the center of the trial is arguably some of the most historic items that would make any music fan jump out of their seat. 

There are over 80 pages of draft lyrics from the landmark 1976 "Hotel California" album.

These pages include words to the hit single which shares the name of the album and contains one of the most overquoted lines in music history – "You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave."

The pages also include lyrics from other hit songs like Life in the Fast Lane" and "New Kid in Town."

Eagles manager Irving Azoff has called the documents "irreplaceable pieces of musical history."

To be clear, the three men aren't actually charged with stealing the documents. Prosecutors will still have to establish that the documents were stolen. The defense maintains that's not true.

What is the song about?

Eagles co-founder Don Henley has said in previous interviews that the song is about "the dark underbelly of the American dream." 

It still was streamed over 220 million times and got 136,000 radio spins last year in the U.S. alone, according to the entertainment data company Luminate. The "Hotel California" album has sold 26 million copies nationwide over the years, bested only by an Eagles' greatest hits disc and Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.