According to a statement posted to the band’s website, Frey “fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks but, sadly, succumbed to complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis, and Pneumonia.
“The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery,” the statement adds. “Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community and millions of fans worldwide.”
While many fans often view bandmate Don Henley as the more prominent frontman, many of The Eagles’ best known hits were actually sung by Frey, from songs that turned carefree travel-logging into an art form (“Take It Easy”, “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, “Tequila Sunrise”) to chugging kiss-offs such as “Already Gone” and “Heartache Tonight”. It’s no wonder why Henley deemed Frey the band’s “spark plug, the man with the plan.”
These songs and many others propelled The Eagles into rock and roll stardom. To date, the band has sold 150 million albums worldwide and earned six Grammys. Two of their albums, Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975) and Hotel California, are among the 20 best-selling albums in US history. For their efforts, they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Frey also had a successful solo career as a TV and film composer. His songs for Beverly Hills Cop (“The Heat Is On”) and Miami Vice (“You Belong to the City”) both reached No. 2 on the charts in the US. Another one of his tracks, “Flip City”, appeared on the soundtrack to Ghostbusters II.
Frey’s influence — however inadvertently — extended to the comedy world as well. When recent Oscar nominee Adam McKay landed a writing gig on Saturday Night Live back in 1995, one of his early projects was a short film where Ben Stiller attempts to bed Glenn Frey (played by Will Ferrell) at a bar. Then of course, there’s The Dude’s famous line from The Big Lebowski about hating The Eagles (and the irate taxi driver who defends them), all while “Peaceful Easy Feeling” plays softly in the background. Frey even served as one of the inspirations for guitarist Russell Hammond in Cameron Crowe’s love letter to rock and roll, Almost Famous.
“He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that wouldn’t quit,” Henley said of Frey in an issued statement. “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.
“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.”
Stay tuned to Consequence of Sound for a more extensive tribute to Frey. Below, revisit some of his best known tracks both with The Eagles and as a solo musician.