Glenn Frey: This Eagle Soared

By J-Vo

“Relax, said the night man, we are programmed to receive. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave!” To the dismay of the music world, Glenn Frey has checked out and indeed left. One of the founding members and often called the heart and soul of the Eagles, Glenn Frey passed away at the young age of 67. During his years with the Eagles and as a solo artist, Frey was a consummate entertainer and driven to create and perform great music.

It’s been a pretty shitty last couple of weeks, hasn’t it? Not only did we lose musical icons such as Lemmy Kilmister and David Bowie, now we begrudgingly add Glenn Frey to that list of musicians who provided us with years of entertainment and died way too young.

Glenn Lewis Frey was born on November 6th, 1948 in Detroit, Michigan. His first musical experience was with the piano, but later he moved to the guitar. He was heavily influenced by the burgeoning Detroit rock scene and after graduating high school, he started and played in quite a few bands. He was a talented guitarist, but also was an accomplished piano and keyboard player as well. His first recording gig came when he was just 19 years old. He played acoustic guitar for Bob Seger when Seger recorded Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man. Encouraged by his recording ‘success’, Frey decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue music full time. While in LA, Frey lived with a couple of guys who he would later identify as huge influences on his musical life: J. D. Souther and Jackson Browne. That’s a roomful of talent!

About a year or so after relocating to LA, Glenn Frey met a drummer/singer named Don Henley. An instant spark started an inspiring flame and the Eagles were born in 1971. Thanks be to the musical Gods for bringing these two guys together! In 1972, the Eagles released their debut album and found almost immediate success with several singles including ‘Take It Easy’, ‘Witchy Woman’ and ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’. Riding on the success of their debut album, the Eagles recorded their second album called On the Border. Again, Frey and Henley were lauded as musical masters and bigger and bigger success followed. In 1976, the quintessential Eagles album was released: Hotel California. Easily one of the top albums in musical history, the recording brought even more accolades to the Eagles, which now had the talents of Joe Walsh on guitar as well. The Eagles continued their success with the release of The Long Run in 1979, but alas, that would be the last release from the ‘original’ Eagles lineup. The Eagles broke up…for the first time of many times to come.

With the breakup came opportunity for solo projects for several of the members. Glenn Frey being no exception. In all, Frey released five solo albums with varying degrees of success. He found more success with composing and performing soundtracks than he did from traditional album releases. Among Frey’s biggest successes was the song “The Heat Is On” which became synonymous with the Eddie Murphy movie entitled Beverly Hills Cop. He had another hit with the song “Smuggler’s Blues” which he penned and performed for the police TV drama Miami Vice. He continued to tour with his own band and occasionally made cameo appearances on recordings from other artists, including B. B. King. Being the ever-driven entertainer that he was, Frey dabbled in acting as well. He had a role on the aforementioned television series Miami Vice and was in several feature films including Let’s Get Harry and Jerry Maguire. To say Glenn Frey was a talented man would be a gross understatement.

As is the norm in this day and age, after Frey’s passing was announced, many fellow musicians, actors, friends and admirers took to social media to express their condolences. Obviously, his fellow bandmates from the Eagles chimed in, but so many others from every corner of the entertainment industry also expressed their thoughts. Among the shocked and grieving were folks like Bette Midler, Steve Martin, Paul Stanley, Travis Tritt, Brad Paisley and Sheryl Crow. I think Huey Lewis summed it up best:
Glenn Frey. I’m shocked. A brilliant songwriter and a really good guy.
Talented, funny, cynical and sweet.

On January 18th of this year, Glenn Frey lost his battle with complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia. Though he is no longer with us, his music and personality will extend well into the future. So, dust off your copy of Hotel California (or any of your favorite Eagles or solo albums) and give it a listen. And let it take you to the limit…one more time.


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