Obituary: Glenn Frey (1948 – 2016)

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By Gary Cordwell

The Grim Reaper continues to cut a swathe through the rock community in 2016. Today we find ourselves mourning the loss of Glenn Frey – founder, singer, songwriter and guitarist of The Eagles. According to the bands website, Frey died from “complications arising from rheumatoid arthritis, colitis and pneumonia”. He was 67.

Frey was born in Detroit and as a teenager found himself being mentored by and performing with Motor City legend, Bob Seger. He then moved to L.A. and, along with Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon, formed The Eagles. The band epitomised the ‘California Sound’ – laid back, sun drenched and possessed of an innate cynicism and knack for an unforgettable melody. They were perhaps the perfect American MOR band, virtually draughting the blueprint. They seemed to be hardwired to the decades zeitgeist.

They went on to rule the 70’s – filling aircraft hangars and stadiums the world over while snorting various expensive powders and sipping boat drinks. They were, and still are, one of the best selling bands of all time, shifting over 150 million albums. Their classic ‘Hotel California’ alone notching up 32 million sales. Frey co-wrote, along with Henley, most of the too-numerous-to-mention classics and took lead vocals on hits such as ‘Take It Easy’, ‘Tequila Sunrise’, ‘Lyin Eyes’ and ‘Heartache Tonight’.

After the bands split in 1980, Frey launched straight into a successful solo career – helping to define the sound of 80’s soft rock…slick production, smooth vibes and almost ever-present mournful sax. ‘Smugglers Blues’ and ‘You Belong To The City’ were huge hits on TV’s ‘Miami Vice’ while ‘The Heat Is On’ sold millions on the ‘Beverly Hills Cop’ soundtrack.

But it had to happen, The Eagles reformed in 1994 for their brilliantly named ‘Hell Freezes Over’ album and tour. They remained a going concern and mega selling ticket machine until the present day, playing in Birmingham as recently as 2014 (from which gig the picture below was taken). Plans were afoot to write an eagles musical stage show.
According to Don Henleys touching tribute, Glenn was “the one who started it all. he was the spark plug, the man with the plan”. Determined, driven, likeable and supremely gifted, he leaves us a legacy of hits that will never grow old.

“You can check out any time you want, but you can never leave”.

RIP Glenn Frey

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Image courtesy of Lisa Billingham

 

 

 

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