R.I.P. Glenn Frey, 1948-2016


Glen Frey, onstage at Wembley Empire Pool in London on April 26, 1977. Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot

Glen Frey, onstage at Wembley Empire Pool in London on April 26, 1977. Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot

This is a hard one to write.

Glenn Fry, co-founder of The Eagles, author and co-author of dozens of hits songs, excellent singer and sometime television actor, died Monday at age 67.

In the 1970s, when The Eagles were at the top of the charts, it was fashionable in some circles to condemn them as California sell-outs, guys cashing in on tight harmony and mushy songs. Among some of WC’s punk-loving buddies, The Eagles were the poster child for everything wrong with pop music.

WC’s punk  music-loving friends were wrong. The Eagles’ songs still remain popular today, when punk music has long since burned itself out. The Eagles, and especially Glenn Frey and Eagles co-founder, Don Henley, have a permanent place in popular music, and a very impressive list of hits. And speaking of hits, their Greatest Hits album alone has sold more than 26 million copies.

Glenn Frey and Don Henley took the nascent country rock of The Byrds, Gram Parsons and The Flying Burrito Brothers, turned down the cowboy, and honed in on lyrics and harmonies. And created an impressive songbook.  “Peaceful, Easy Feeling,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Witchy Woman,” “New Kid in Town,” and maybe the best of all, “Hotel California,” to name just a few. You can make the case that “Take It Easy,” written with Jackson Browne, should be the state song of California.

Glenn Frey, Qantas Credit Union Arena, March 2, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Don Arnold / WireImage

Glenn Frey, Qantas Credit Union Arena, March 2, 2015 in Sydney, Australia. Photo by Don Arnold / WireImage

By the by, the first song played at WC’s and Mrs. WC’s wedding reception was The Eagles’ cover of “Love Will Keep Us Alive,” off of their reunion album, Hell Freezes Over.

By all reports, Frey was a difficult, demanding perfectionist. He famously spent three days in the recording studio getting the word “city” exactly right in “Lyin’ Eyes.” Frey and Don Henley quarreled about the music, control, and the harmonies. But that perfectionism may have been why just reading the song titles to Eagles’ tunes make the music play in your head.

Part of getting old is watching your heroes, the artists you admired, and, for WC, especially the guys that wrote the soundtrack to your life, all just up and die. That wasn’t supposed to happen.

“Good night,” said the watchman
We are programmed to receive
You can check out any time you like
But you can never leave.

– “Hotel California”

Rest in Peace, Glenn Fry. Thanks for all that wonderful music.

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2 thoughts on “R.I.P. Glenn Frey, 1948-2016

  1. It’s hard for a band as successful as the Eagles to be underrated, but they are. Stone cold professional musicians who wrote most of their own material and chose covers very well. Listen to what they did with Tom Waits’s Old ’55.

  2. Saw them in 1980 at the Meadowlands. They were the headliners. Little River Band opened, Heart & the Eagles. It turned out to be their breakup tour. Saw them again in 1994 on their Hell Freezes Over tour at the Philly Spectrum. Melissa Etheridge opened. They put on a fantastic show both times. The Philly show was in question due to health concerns of “members” even then. I even remember him on the Miami Vice episode based (?) on his Smuggler’s Blues.

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