Frey performing with the Eagles in 2008
November 6, 1948|
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
|Died||January 18, 2016
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Cause of death||Complications from pneumonia, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis|
Glenn Lewis Frey (//; November 6, 1948 – January 18, 2016) was an American singer, songwriter, producer and actor, best known as a founding member of rock band the Eagles. During the 1970s, Frey played guitar with the band, as well as piano and keyboards. Alongside Don Henley, Frey was one of the primary singers of the Eagles; he sang lead vocals on songs such as "Take It Easy", "Peaceful Easy Feeling", "Tequila Sunrise", "Already Gone", "Lyin' Eyes", "New Kid in Town" and "Heartache Tonight".
After the breakup of the Eagles in 1980, Frey embarked on a successful solo career. He released his debut album, No Fun Aloud, in 1982 and went on to record Top 40 hits "The One You Love", "Smuggler's Blues", "Sexy Girl", "The Heat Is On", "You Belong to the City", "True Love", "Soul Searchin'" and "Livin' Right".
As a member of the Eagles, Frey won six Grammy Awards, and five American Music Awards. The Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998, the first year they were nominated. Consolidating his solo recordings and those with the Eagles, Frey released 24 Top 40 singles on the Billboard Hot 100.
Glenn Lewis Frey was born in Detroit, Michigan. Growing up in Royal Oak, Michigan, he studied piano at 5, later switched to guitar and became part of the mid-1960s Detroit rock scene. One of his earliest bands was called the Subterraneans, named after Jack Kerouac's novel, and included fellow Dondero High School Class of '66 students Doug Edwards (later replaced by Lenny Mintz) on drums, Doug Gunsch and Bill Barnes on guitar and Jeff Hodge on bass.
After graduating from Dondero High School in 1966, Frey played for a while with the local band The Four of Us, modeled after The Byrds. In 1967 he formed the Mushrooms with Jeff Burrows, Bill Barnes, Doug Gunch and Larry Mintz. Bob Seger, who was a friend of Frey, wrote and produced their first single, and the band made television appearances to promote it. In the later part of 1967, Frey pulled together another band called Heavy Metal Kids with Steve Burrows (piano), Jeff Alborell (bass), Paul Kelcourse (lead guitar) and Lance Dickerson (drums).
His first professional recording experience, at age 19, was performing acoustic guitar and background vocals on Seger's single, "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" in 1968. Frey has said that Seger strongly encouraged and influenced him to focus on writing original songs. They remained good friends and occasional songwriting partners in later years.
Frey then moved to Los Angeles to follow his then-girlfriend, Joan Sliwin, who was an aspiring singer. He was introduced to J. D. Souther by her sister, Alexandra Sliwin of Honey Ltd., a friend from his Detroit days and Souther's girlfriend at the time. Frey debuted as a recorded songwriter while fronting Longbranch Pennywhistle, a duo with Souther, in 1969. Frey wrote the songs "Run, Boy, Run" and "Rebecca" and co-wrote "Bring Back Funky Women" with Souther for their self-titled album. Frey also met Jackson Browne during this period. The three musicians lived in the same apartment building for a short time, and Frey later said that he learned a lot about songwriting from hearing Browne work on songs in the apartment below.
Tenure with the Eagles
Frey met drummer Don Henley in 1970. When Linda Ronstadt needed a backup band for a single gig, she hired Frey, Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon on the advice of her boyfriend, J.D. Souther. Frey and Henley later joined Ronstadt's backup band for her 1971 summer tour. Afterwards, Frey, Henley, Meisner and Leadon formed the Eagles, with Frey playing guitar and keyboards and Henley playing drums. The band went on to become one of the world's best-selling groups of all time. Frey wrote or co-wrote (often with Henley) many of the group's songs, and sang the lead vocals on a number of Eagles hits including "Take It Easy", "Peaceful Easy Feeling", "Already Gone", "Tequila Sunrise", "Lyin' Eyes", "New Kid in Town", "Heartache Tonight" and "How Long".
The Eagles broke up around 1980 and reunited in 1994, when they released a new album titled Hell Freezes Over. The album had live tracks and four new songs. The Hell Freezes Over Tour followed. In 2012 on The Tavis Smiley Show, Frey told Smiley, "When the Eagles broke up, people used to ask me and Don, 'When are the Eagles getting back together?' We used to answer, 'When Hell freezes over.' We thought it was a pretty good joke. People have the misconception that we were fighting a lot. It is not true. We had a lot of fun. We had a lot more fun than I think people realize." At their first live concert of 1994, Frey told the crowd, "For the record, we never broke up. We just took a 14-year vacation."
In 2013, the two-part documentary History of the Eagles, directed by Alison Ellwood and co-produced by Academy Award winner Alex Gibney, was aired on Showtime. The documentary won an Emmy Award in 2013 for Outstanding Sound Mixing For Nonfiction Programming. An accompanying two-year History of the Eagles world tour ended on July 29, 2015 at Bossier City, Louisiana, a concert which would be Frey's final public appearance with the band.
After the Eagles disbanded, Frey achieved solo success in the 1980s, especially with two No. 2 hits. In 1984, he recorded in collaboration with Harold Faltermeyer the worldwide hit, "The Heat Is On", the main theme from the Eddie Murphy's action comedy film Beverly Hills Cop; then, Frey performed "You Belong to the City" (from the television series Miami Vice, the soundtrack of which stayed on top of the U.S. album charts for 11 weeks in 1985). His other contribution to the soundtrack, "Smuggler's Blues", hit No. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. During his solo career, Frey had 12 charting songs in the U.S. Top 100. Eleven of those were written with Jack Tempchin who also wrote "Peaceful Easy Feeling".
Frey was the first choice to record "Shakedown", the theme for the film Beverly Hills Cop II. Frey did not like the lyrics and then came down with laryngitis, so the song was given to Bob Seger. After the song went to number one, Frey called to congratulate Seger, saying "At least we kept the money in Michigan!"
Frey also contributed the song "Flip City" to the Ghostbusters II soundtrack, and "Part of Me, Part of You" to the soundtrack for Thelma & Louise. In 2005, he appeared on B.B. King & Friends: 80 on the track "Drivin' Wheel".
In the late 1990s, Frey founded a record company, Mission Records, with attorney Peter Lopez. Frey never released any of his own work on the label and the company has since disbanded.
On May 8, 2012, he released his first solo album in 20 years, After Hours, featuring covers of pop standards from the 1940s to the 1960s.
As a television actor, Frey guest starred on Miami Vice in the first season episode "Smuggler's Blues", inspired by his hit song of the same name, and had a starring role in the "Dead Dog Arc" of Wiseguy. He was also the star of South of Sunset, which was canceled after one episode. In the late 1990s, he guest-starred on Nash Bridges as a policeman whose teenage daughter had run amok and gone on a crime spree with her sociopathic boyfriend. In 2002, he appeared on HBO's Arliss, playing a political candidate who double-crosses Arliss and must pay a high price for it.
Frey's first foray into film was his starring role in Let's Get Harry, a 1986 film about a group of plumbers who travel to Colombia to rescue a friend from a drug lord. Frey's next film appearance was a smaller role in Cameron Crowe's third film, Jerry Maguire (1996). Frey played the frugal general manager of the Arizona Cardinals football team who, in the film's climax, finally agrees to pay Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s character, wide receiver Rod Tidwell, a large professional contract.
Frey was married twice. From 1983 to 1988, he was married to Janie Beggs. He married Cindy Millican in 1990. They had three children, a daughter, Taylor and two sons, Deacon and Otis.
Illness and death
Since about 2000, Frey had suffered from rheumatoid arthritis, which affected various joints of his body. The medication that he took to control the disease led to colitis and pneumonia. In November 2015, the Eagles announced that they were postponing their appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors as Frey required major surgery for intestinal problems and a lengthy recovery period. Following surgery he was placed in a medically-induced coma at Columbia University Medical Center.
On January 18, 2016, Frey died at the age of 67 in New York City of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia, while recovering from gastrointestinal tract surgery.
Frey was acclaimed and mourned by many colleagues including Eagles management, Don Henley, Randy Meisner, J. D. Souther, Jack Tempchin, Irving Azoff, Linda Ronstadt, Don Felder, and Bob Seger.
|Year||Album details||Peak chart positions||Certifications
|1982||No Fun Aloud
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|1993||Glenn Frey Live
|2000||20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection
|Year||Single||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1982||"I Found Somebody"||31||57||27||–||–||–||93||—||No Fun Aloud|
|"The One You Love"||15||–||2||12||–||–||50||36|
|"Don't Give Up"||–||25||–||–||–||–||–||—|
|1983||"All Those Lies"||41||–||28||–||–||–||–||—|
|1984||"Sexy Girl"||20||–||23||48||12||81||76||—||The Allnighter|
|"The Heat Is On"||2||4||–||8||–||12||2||22||Beverly Hills Cop (soundtrack)|
|1985||"Smuggler's Blues"||12||13||–||37||–||22||–||–||The Allnighter / Miami Vice (soundtrack)|
|"You Belong to the City"||2||1||2||6||2||94||20||46||Miami Vice (soundtrack)|
|1988||"True Love"||13||15||2||2||–||84||49||–||Soul Searchin'|
|1989||"Flip City"||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||—||Ghostbusters II (soundtrack)|
|1991||"Part of Me, Part of You"||55||9||7||9||8||–||–||–||Strange Weather|
|1992||"I've Got Mine"||91||–||12||18||–||–||–||—|
|"River of Dreams"||–||–||27||57||34||–||–||—|
|1993||"Love in the 21st Century"||—A||–||–||–||–||–||–||—|
|1995||"This Way to Happiness"||—||–||–||54||–||–||–||–||Solo Collection|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
Takamine Guitars manufactures a Glenn Frey signature acoustic-electric guitar, the EF360GF. It is designed to replicate the Takamine Frey used for his live and studio applications. In the 1970s, Frey used Martin acoustic guitars in both six- and 12-string versions.
Frey played assorted electric guitars over the years, namely Gibson Les Paul, Gibson SG, Gibson ES-335, Epiphone Casino and Rickenbacker 230, but the electric guitar that is most associated with him was his black Gibson Les Paul Junior, nicknamed Old Black.
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