There have been thousands of American bands, but precious few defined a sound, a scene, a time. Truly quintessential American bands or artists. Elvis, the Beach Boys, Nirvana. If you’re talking about the 70’s, you’re talking about The Eagles. You can make arguments for Bruce or KISS, and they would be good arguments, but my response would to simply be, “Take it Easy” and “Hotel California”.
Glenn Frey died today at the age of 67 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia according to a statement made by the band. He takes with him a voice that helped shape a moment. Frey formed The Eagles with Don Henley in 1971, and the duo led the group to massive album sales and world tours until everything famously fell apart in 1980. One decade to make an enduring legacy.
Yes, the band reformed and put out “Hell Freezes Over” in 1994 and have successfully toured on and off since then, but it has always been on the backs of those long-haired guys in well-worn jeans.
The 80’s were a successful, if not a somewhat weird time for Frey. He guest-starred on Miami Vice and put out a companion track, “Smuggler’s Blues”. He had hits with “The Heat is On” and “You Belong to the City” from the Beverly Hills Cop Soundtrack.
Over the years, he did some acting and released solo work, but Frey was always at his best when he was on stage with the rest of The Eagles.
Any casual Eagles fan can tell you that the band’s first single started as a Jackson Browne song. He and Frey were roommates in the early 70’s, and Browne couldn’t get past the first line in the second verse. Browne ultimately gave the song to Frey to finish. Browne said the lyric he came up with to finish that line epitomized the late singer-songwriter.
“‘Girl, Lord, Ford’. I mean, all the redemption – girls and cars and redemption, all in this one line.”