Glenn Frey, a rock ‘n' roll rebel from Detroit who journeyed West, co-founded the Eagles and with Don Henley became one of history’s most successful songwriting teams with such hits as “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane,” has died.
Frey, 67, died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, the band said on its website. He died on Monday in New York. He had fought the ailments for the past several weeks, the band said.
“The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery,” a statement on the band’s website said. “Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community & millions of fans worldwide.”
Guitarist Frey and drummer Henley formed the Eagles in Los Angeles in the early 1970s, along with guitarist Bernie Leadon and bassist Randy Meisner. Their popularity grew through much of the decade, and they embodied for many listeners the melodic Los Angeles sound despite having no native Californians in the group. Critics often dismissed them as slick and unadventurous, but their blend of mellow ballads and macho rockers, and of pop and folk and country, gave them unusually broad appeal.
An Eagles greatest-hits collection from the mid-1970s and “Hotel California,” released in 1976, both have sold more than 20 million copies and are among the best-selling albums of modern times. Their many hit singles included “The Best of My Love,” “Desperado,” “One of These Nights” and “The Long Run,” a prophetic boast from 1979 that they would “go the distance” in the long run.” The impulsive Frey and more cerebral Henley shared songwriting and singing duties, with Frey’s drawling tenor featured on “Heartache Tonight,” “Already Gone” and the group’s breakthrough hit, “Take it Easy.”
Their popularity well outlasted their breakup in 1980 and the 14-year hiatus that followed. Their records remained consistent sellers, and they were a top touring act over the last 20 years even though Frey and Henley were the only remaining original members. They were joined on stage by guitarist Joe Walsh, who replaced Leadon in the mid-1970s, and bassist Timothy B. Schmit, who stepped in after Meisner quit in 1977. Guitarist Don Felder was added in 1974 but parted ways with the band in 2001 amid disputes over money.
The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and was supposed to have been honored at the Kennedy Center last month, but the appearance was postponed because of Frey’s health problems.
Frey had occasional success as a solo artist, with songs including “The One You Love” and “You Belong to the City,” and he had careers in movies and television. He appeared on episodes of “Miami Vice” and “Nash Bridges,” both featuring his friend Don Johnson, and appeared in the film “Jerry McGuire,” directed by Cameron Crowe, who had befriended him after he interviewed the Eagles for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Frey’s “The Heat Is On” was a hit from the “Beverly Hills Cop” soundtrack, and his “Smuggler’s Blues” inspired a “Miami Vice” episode of the same name.
Frey, known for his oversized jaw, big grin and wavy dark hair, loved music, girls and the rock ‘n' roll life. He would meet up with Henley, Meisner and Leadon while all were trying to catch on in the Los Angeles music scene, and for a time the four backed Linda Ronstadt.
The bandmates harmonized memorably on stage and on record but fought often otherwise. Leadon and Meisner departed after run-ins with Frey, and Felder ended up in legal action with the Eagles. The band’s breakup in 1980 happened after Felder and Frey nearly came to blows after a concert in Long Beach, California.
Frey and Henley also became estranged for years, their breach a key reason the band stayed apart in the 1980s. Henley had vowed the Eagles would reunite only when “hell freezes over,” which became the name of the 1994 album they had never imagined making.
Despite the occasional discord, Henley said Frey was like a brother to him.
“The bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved,” Henley said in a statement. “Glenn was the one who started it all. He was the spark plug, the man with the plan. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that wouldn’t quit. He was funny, bullheaded, mercurial, generous, deeply talented and driven.”
Musicians, other celebs react to death of Glenn Frey
– “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 in a statement.
– “Shocker. My friend from the early days, and important member of Eagles, has died. We loved you, Glenn Frey.” – Steve Martin on Twitter.
– “One of Lady A’s biggest influences has always been The Eagles. Heartbroken to hear we lost another great music icon. (hash)rip (hash)glennfrey” – Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum on Twitter.
– “sigh Glenn Frey belongs to the city still. damn man. all these legends man…..(hash)TheEagles” – Questlove on Twitter.
– “SHOCKED to report the death of GLENN FREY. Eagle & brilliant songwriter. We shared some memories at RRHOF. Shocked.” – Paul Stanley of KISS on Twitter.
– “His music was personally inspirational, his impact immeasurable, his legacy timeless. (hash)glennfrey (hash)heartachetonight” – Tim McGraw on Twitter.
– “Glenn Frey was an integral part of one of the most storied bands in pop history. His songwriting, especially with bandmate Don Henley, resulted in some of the biggest hits and standards of the ‘70s… Glenn’s untimely passing is a huge loss for the music community, and we offer our condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and fans.” – Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow in a statement.
– “One of the greatest voices, musicians, contributors and collaborators to rock n roll music has passed away. RIP Glenn Frey” – Actor Miles Teller on Twitter.
– “RIP Glenn Frey. It seems like forever that the Eagles music coincided with my entire adult life. Say it ain’t so.” – Comedian Richard Lewis on Twitter.
– Glenn Frey, founding member of the Eagles, a band I just loved, has died. His songs, those sounds, perfectly captured those days. 70s LA…” – Bette Midler on Twitter.
– “Now we have Lost Glenn Frey who was a member of the Eagles. The Eagles released my favorite album of all time “Hotel California.” His talent will be missed. We also lost a magnificent actor and true human being Alan Rickman who was in all the Harry Potter films plus gave amazing performances many of his 50 plus other films. My heart has been broken with the loss of so much great talent. Please remember both of them for the Great contributions they have given all of us and the entertainment world.” Singer Meat Loaf on Facebook.
– “Glenn Frey. I’m shocked. A brilliant songwriter and a really good guy. Talented, funny, cynical and sweet.” – Singer Huey Lewis on Twitter.