Jimmy Buffett on Glenn Frey: 'A True Friend and Inspiration'

Musician recalls first meeting, decades-long friendship with Eagles guitarist in touching tribute

Jimmy Buffett remembers his friendship and first meeting with Glenn Frey, and how important the Eagles were to his own success Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty, R. Diamond/Getty

Jimmy Buffett fondly recalled his first meeting with Glenn Frey and their decades-long friendship in a touching tribute to the Eagles guitarist and co-founder, who died Monday.

The two musicians met backstage at a concert at the Columbia Coliseum in South Carolina in August 1975: Buffett and his Coral Reefer Band had been tapped to open for the Eagles — "the best American band of my generation and many to follow," the musician declared — and were well aware how important a gig like this was to their burgeoning career. After watching the Eagles soundcheck, Buffett told his band, "That is the kind of band we want to become.

"Waiting to go on that night seemed like an eternity," Buffett continued. "Mixed emotions were flowing, fear, excitement, and a lot of 'what if's' were running through my head, when the door suddenly opened and in walked Glenn Frey. That was the first time we met. He greeted me and the band warmly, thanked us for being there (duh?) and said to me how much he loved 'A Pirate Looks at 40.' He wished us luck and then went back out the door. That was the beginning of a long and lovely friendship."

Buffett went on to credit Frey and Don Henley for playing a huge role in his rise, linking him with their manager, Irving Azoff, and asking him to serve as opener on the Eagles' Hotel California tour. In the coming decades, Frey and Buffett became neighbors in Aspen and frequent collaborators, and when the Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they asked Buffett to deliver the induction speech.

"Glenn was a true friend, a true professional, an inspiration and sometimes could be a handful," Buffett wrote. "I cherish great memories of our time spent together and will never forget his kindness that first night and our friendship for all these years."

Jimmy Buffett's Full Statement on Glenn Frey

In August of 1975, I was sitting in a dressing room in the Columbia Coliseum in South Carolina, about ready to go onstage. It wasn't your ordinary gig by any stretch of the imagination, and still gives me "chicken skin" as I write about this morning. We were opening for the Eagles, the best American band of my generation and many to follow. Any band worth their salt started out as an opener for somebody. Opening for the right band at the right time, could be your stairway to heaven.

Earlier in the afternoon, Tommy Nixon, one of their road managers, had invited us to watch the Eagles sound check. I sat there with all the members of the Coral Reefer Band in awe, and when it was over, we strolled back through the empty arena towards our dressing room, and I said to my band, "That is the kind of band we want to become."  

Waiting to go on that night seemed like an eternity. Mixed emotions were flowing: fear, excitement and a lot of "what if's" were running through my head, when the door suddenly opened and in walked Glenn Frey. That was the first time we met. He greeted me and the band warmly, thanked us for being there (duh?) and said to me how much he loved "A Pirate Looks at 40." He wished us luck and then went back out the door. That was the beginning of a long and lovely friendship.

Only a few people really know how significant Glenn, Don, Irving and the Eagles were to my rise through the ranks of bands trying to achieve just a sliver of the success that they had achieved. After that first night, Glenn and I went on to become close friends, songwriting collaborators and neighbors in Aspen. He and Don were instrumental in getting Irving Azoff to become my manager, and eventually open for the Eagles on the Hotel California tour of America, which was the rocket ship we rode to eventually becoming a headliner.

When the Eagles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, they asked me to give their induction speech. I was humbled. Glenn was a true friend, a true professional, an inspiration and sometimes could be a handful. I cherish great memories of our time spent together and will never forget his kindness that first night and our friendship for all these years. My heart goes out to Cindy, Deacon, Taylor and Otis. He rocked all our worlds.