As the Eagles co-founder, singer and songwriter Glenn Frey mastered the mix of rock `n’ rock and country music, and the band’s hits _ including “Hotel California” and “Take It Easy,” both co-written by Frey – helped define the 1970s.
Frey died Monday of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia in New York at age 67. He was born in Detroit and formed the band with Don Henley in 1971 in Los Angeles.
Frey and Henley came from humble beginnings after playing backup to another legend, Linda Ronstadt, and later forming the Eagles when signing with David Geffen’s Asylum Records. Their sound would go on to successfully blend rock and country _ something that others tried but was mastered by the Eagles. Who else has won Grammy Awards _ stretched across 1975 and 2008 _ in the rock, pop and country categories?
The band released some of the most popular songs of the 1970s: “Take It Easy,” written by Frey and Jackson Browne, is irresistible with Frey singing lead and the band’s harmonies intact, and “Hotel California,” the moody soft rock track, is simply a classic.
And “Hotel Californial” was just one of the Eagles’ tunes to peak atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart: “Heartache Tonight,” `’New Kid In Town,” `’One of These Nights” and “Best of My Love” also went to No. 1.
Frey and Henley wrote most of their hits and were known as one of the top songwriting teams. Two of the band’s albums would go on to rank among the top-selling albums ever released: “Eagles, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)” and 1976’s “Hotel California” each sold more than 20 million copies. It’s a rare feat for any artist of any genre and made the Eagles the best-selling American group of all-time.
The band, however, called it quits in 1980 in dramatic fashion at a political fundraiser as threats were exchanged between band members during their performance, which was explored in the 2013 documentary “History of the Eagles.” Other drama followed the group: After getting a brutal business ultimatum from Frey, Don Felder left the reunited group; guitarist Bernie Leadon poured beer over Frey’s head as he exited the band; and there’s bassist Randy Meisner leaving when he didn’t want to sing “Take It to the Limit,” his signature song.
After they disbanded, Frey recorded solo albums and achieved hits with the songs “You Belong to the City” and “The Heat Is On.”
A whopping 14 years after their 1980 breakup, the Eagles were back, and they launched their “Hell Freezes Over” tour, named humorously after the band famously said it wouldn’t reunite “until hell freezes over.”
In 1998, the Eagles were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A year after that, the Recording Industry Association of America named the Eagles to its list of Artists of the Century, alongside the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Barbra Streisand, Elton John and Garth Brooks.
Henley said Frey was like a brother to him and the bond they forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the time the Eagles were dissolved.
“We were two young men who made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles with the same dream,” he said, “to make our mark in the music industry.”
And that they did.