Remembering Glenn Frey: 1948-2016

Remembering Glenn Frey: 1948-2016

—by , January 27, 2016

01-27 Feature - Remembering Glenn Frey 4 (Photo by Mark Weiss)

(Photo by Mark Weiss)

“I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet. … It will be very strange going forward in a world without him in it. But, I will be grateful, every day, that he was in my life. … Rest in peace, my brother. You did what you set out to do, and then some.”-Don Henley

 

Glenn Frey left us way too early on Jan. 18 due to rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, per the Eagles’ website.

Singer-songwriter and guitarist, he co-founded the Eagles with Don Henley after their first tour backing up Linda Ronstadt in 1970. From the opening chords of “Take It Easy” that was co-written with Jackson Browne, to their last one, Long Road Out Of Eden, they churned out the hits that defined an era. By the time they wrote their first song together, “Witchy Woman,” Henley-Frey were well on their way to becoming the Lennon & McCartney of the ’70s.

Combining Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter flare and a showdown of three electric guitars, they went from a countrified unit to a hard-driven rock outfit by the time Hotel California went down in 1977. They ended the decade a spent force with The Long Run.

After a 14-year hiatus they regrouped, unplugged, then regrouped again for another outstanding album in 2007, Long Road Out Of Eden, that took on the environment, politics and the new world order. The History Of The Eagles documentary put them on the map once again as they toured the world for two years, ending it this past summer on July 29 in Bossier City, Louisiana.

Frey was the heart and soul of the band, for sure. A Detroit-bred badass with a porn star mustache, he added some edgy grit to the band’s soaring harmonies. He funneled the intellectual weight of drummer Henley’s stone-eyed delivery to court jester Joe Walsh’s daredevil runs up and down the fretboard, Don Felder’s metallic thunder and bassist Timothy B. Schmit’s bottom end into one serious bawl-out affair of great rock and roll.

Original guitarist Bernie Leadon laid down the countrified licks that started it all as Randy Meisner took it to the limit. Frey played band quarterback as he took on the motley crew throughout their personnel changes, cheered them on and got the job done. He was the ringleader at party central and the glue to the band’s split personalities. At an Eagles show, they played the hits and did them well, all two and a half hours’ worth.

Frey threatened to kick Don Felder’s ass after the guitarist started whining onstage at a political fundraiser and eventually did kick him out of the band. Bernie Leadon poured a can of beer over his head in a fit of anger then left the band. Frey was an original. He pissed people off with a no-nonsense style as he demanded the best from his bandmates. It’s all documented in the band’s warts and all, tell-all film, History Of The Eagles.

He acted in Miami Vice, providing the 1985 hit “Smuggler’s Blues” to the soundtrack, and played a sleazy sports agent in the 1996 Cameron Crowe film, Jerry Maguire. Part-time hippie, No Fun Aloud party boy and sentimental crooner on his 2012 solo album, After Hours, but ultimately rock and roll outlaw, Frey wore more hats than a coat rack. His solo on “I Can’t Tell You Why” showcased an earthy, bluesy style as he made his guitar weep.

The Eagles’ organization was always incredibly generous to this paper and I reviewed them numerous times at shows in Atlantic City, Giants Stadium and the Garden. Watching him pacing the stage in high-top sneakers then banging out the ferocious and twisted leads ending “Hotel California” with Joe Walsh and Steuart Smith at the newly reconstructed Giants Stadium is something I will never forget.

I met him briefly at the Waldorf Astoria at a benefit for the Silver Lining Foundation in January 2001, where he provided the evening’s entertainment. I was shooting the red carpet and saw Frey hanging at the bar. I discreetly unclipped the velvet rope separating us from them, shook his hand, thanked him for the music and asked him to sign my Hotel California album. He said, “Sure, man!” It’s on my wall.

Take it easy, Glenn…

    reader responses
  1. The music of the Eagles were a huge influence on me! Glenn Frey was a genius musically and so driven to the music. He expected perfection all the time from his band mates and that caused problems! He may have been perceived as a pain in the ass but it was for success of the band and the greatness of the music! If you weren’t on board you were out, period! I can appreciate that totally! Got a chance to say hello to Glenn in Boston during his Solo days. He was very gracious! Thanks Glenn for all the music and memories! YOU ARE MISSED!

    Bob Walsh on 1/28/2016 at 01:59 PM 

  2. It is now hard for me to watch “The History of the Eagles” without tearing up. The passing of such a great talent as Genn Frey hurts deepy as did Phil Everly,Roy Orbison. I wish to thank those responsible for that documentary that put personalities to the faces of The Eages and made connections to other talents I was only vaguely familiar (Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Brown ) with. If it were not for Genn Frey, Jackson Brown would stil be standing on that corner in Winsow Arizona ! The world will miss Genn
    Frey!

    Andy B on 1/28/2016 at 12:43 PM 

  3. Oh my GOD””..I AM 51..& I love the Eagles..I was 7 when I started listening to them on radio..as a little girl with a very hard life already..they were my gate 2magic..I hear their songs & reminds me what a strong LiL girl it made me….I still tear when I remember he *Glenn* is gone…then I hear a song & IF HE IS SINGING””I cry through the whole song..”LOVE ya “Mr.Magic Man”.r.I.p …..missing U as if I knew U….your LiL Witchy Woman ;)

    Liza on 1/28/2016 at 11:20 AM 

  4. So sad gone far too soon

    Phil horn on 1/28/2016 at 07:05 AM 

  5. So sad saw you on you on the hell freezes over tour and at the NEC in Birmingham brilliant thank you for the music never forgotten

    Phil horn on 1/28/2016 at 07:01 AM 

  6. Uh, Glenn Frey played a tough NFC team general manager (not sleazy sports agent ) in “Jerry Maguire” and did not sing solo-lead on “I Can’t Tell You Why” – that was bassist Timothy B. Schmit.

    S on 1/28/2016 at 06:32 AM 

  7. Detroit music rules!

    skip gryphon on 1/28/2016 at 01:47 AM 

  8. thank you glenn

    mike on 1/27/2016 at 07:40 PM 

  9. “Music Magjic” = the EAGLES . . . Glen Frey & Don Henley the master magicans. They were the heart and sole
    of great American-born and bread Rock & Role, often with a country r&r flavor. Their big-band concerts are like nothing in the world.

    Wes Whitlock on 1/27/2016 at 05:29 PM 

  10. Holy cow. Didn’t mean to say penultimate. But rather first rate, transcendent, man, anything but penultimate. geesh, I think I’ll stick to my crayons. Sorry Glen.

    Brian on 1/27/2016 at 05:01 PM 

  11. The loss of Glenn Frey took the heart right out of me. The music of the Eagles was the soul music of my life. He, Don Henley, the great Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Smith, to my mind, were penultimate in musicianship as far as I’m concerned. The lyrics in just about all their lyrics spoke to my heart and mind. The rhythmic tones moved me to my core. And when they harmonize, man, it was just all there. The Eagles where the complete package as far as I’m concerned. Future bands should take this bad as a lesson on how to be successful in music. I love just about every genre of music. But nothing tops the Eagles. Mr. Frey I never got the chance to meet you personally. All I have left to say is that the Eagles was MY music. I heard is said a number of times before and I complete agree you created the music of my life. God Bless your soul Fly high to that ever lov’n sweet bye and bye

    Brian on 1/27/2016 at 04:39 PM 


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