Glenn Frey, a founding member of and guitarist with of the Eagles, has died at the age of 67.
The band confirmed the news on Monday January 18 with a statement on its website: “Glenn fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks but, sadly, succumbed to complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia. 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’s battle with intestinal issues caused the band to postpone its Kennedy Center Honors last year. It was said then that the problem would require ‘major surgery and a lengthy recovery period.’
Eagles drummer and vocalist Don Henley has issued the following statement: “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.”
J.D. Souther, frequent Eagles songwriter also released a statement: “Glenn Frey was my first songwriting partner and best friend when we set out to realize our dreams of making great music in Los Angeles. Our first year together will always seem like yesterday to me. His amazing capacity for the big joke and that brilliant groove that lived inside him are with me, even now, in this loss and sorrow. I will miss him every day but then…he is always here, isn’t he? I can’t say any more than that for now. The music and the love are indestructible.”
Irving Azoff, the Eagles’ manager since the band’s earliest days told Billboard that he was “heartbroken” over Frey’s death, adding, “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
“I can’t believe everything we accomplished,” Azoff continued. “It was a staggering body of work and just an amazing run. I don’t think there will ever be another American band [that’s] as successful.”
Azoff described Frey as “a great father and a great humanitarian who cared” and Azoff credited him for having “taught me much of what I know. He and Don [Henley] and [the late]Dan Fogelberg and I all started together. In addition to being an incredible musician, he had a great sense for the business, and a lot of that rubbed off on me.”
Born on November 6, 1948 in Detroit, Frey was raised in nearby Royal Oak and played in a succession of local bands in the city. He first connected with Bob Seger and convinced him to write a song for Frey’s band The Mushrooms and later sang backing vocals Seger’s first hit (also Frey’s first recorded appearance) 1968’s ‘Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.’
In 1971, Linda Ronstadt hired Frey, who had moved to Los Angeles, along with his friend, drummer Don Henley for her backing band and the pair decided to form their own band on the night of their first show with her. They had previously been working together in the unsuccessful band Longbranch Pennywhistle.
They recruited ex-Poco bassist Randy Meisner and former Burritos guitarist Bernie Leadon and formed The Eagles – one of the first signings to David Geffen’s new label, Asylum. The group’s first single, ‘Take It Easy,’ co-written by Jackson Browne and Frey, was an immediate hit. There followed a long string of hits in the ‘70s, culminating in the 1976 monster hit album Hotel California, by which stage Leadon had left and Don Felder and Joe Walsh had joined the band.
The Eagles’ 1976 collection Their Greatest Hits 1971-75 vied with Michael Jackson’s Thriller as the top-selling album of all time — and has been certified 29 times platinum by the RIAA. Hotel California is certified 16 times platinum.