“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our comrade, Eagles founder, Glenn Frey, in New York City on Monday, January 18, 2016.” A simple statement from a complex band; the announcement was made on the Eagles’ website late Monday. Frey was 67.
In recent weeks, Frey had been battling rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, conditions that also led to the postponement of a tribute at Kennedy Center last month. His family included a message to fans in the message on the band’s website:
The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery.
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.
Frey was born in Detroit in 1948. By age 19, he was under the tutelage of Bob Seger and contributed backing vocals and acoustic guitar to Seger’s hit, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” in 1969.
Upon moving to Los Angeles, Frey crossed paths with future collaborators J.D. Souther, Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon, with the latter three going on to become members of Linda Ronstadt’s 1971 backing band.
Following the Ronstadt tour, the four went on to form the Eagles and the rest is history. The Eagles went on to become one of the biggest selling artists of all time behind such Frey-penned hits as “Take it Easy,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Heartache Tonight” and “Already Gone.” Frey and Henley shared much of the songwriting and vocal duties on their biggest hits.
The Eagles broke up in 1980 after Don Felder and Frey nearly came to blows following a concert in Long Beach. Many members went on to successful solo careers with Frey scoring two number one hits in the 80s with “The Heat is On” from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack and “You Belong to the City” from the television show, Miami Vice. Frey also took a turn at acting during this period. Among his most prominent roles was in Miami Vice in an episode based upon his song “Smuggler’s Blues.”
A fourteen year band hiatus ended when it embarked upon its Hell Freezes Over album and tour in 1994. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. An album entitled The Long Road Out of Eden was released in 2007 and the band toured through the millennium.
Despite periods of animosity between them, Don Henley considered Frey a brother. Henley issued the following heartfelt statement regarding the death of his long-time friend:
“He was like a brother to me; we were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction. But, the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved. We were two young men who made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles with the same dream: to make our mark in the music industry — and with perseverance, a deep love of music, our alliance with other great musicians and our manager, Irving Azoff, we built something that has lasted longer than anyone could have dreamed. But, 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. He loved is wife and kids more than anything. We are all in a state of shock, disbelief and profound sorrow. We brought our two-year ‘History of the Eagles Tour’ to a triumphant close at the end of July and now he is gone. 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.”