“In the beginning, we were the underdogs,” Glenn Frey once said of the Eagles‘ formative days on the L.A. rock scene of the early Seventies. “Being in close proximity to Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell, and Crosby, Stills and Nash, this unspoken thing was created between Henley and me, which said, ‘If we want to be up here with the big boys, we’d better write some fucking good songs.'”
Mission accomplished, sir. The music Frey made in the Eagles is some of the most beloved and successful in rock history. Frey was a triple threat phenom: a gifted guitar player, dazzling singer and powerful songwriter. The hits he co-wrote with Henley and the rest of the Eagles — “Desperado,” “One of These Nights,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Hotel California,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “New Kid in Town” — came with melodies that were perfect for the easygoing mood of the Seventies and lyrics that reflected the decade’s sense of world-weariness and cynicism.
When the Eagles wound down their initial run, Frey made the transition to Eighties solo status better than many of his peers, scoring hits like “You Belong to the City” and “Smuggler’s Blues.” He only recorded sporadically during the past couple decades, but his music remained with us — whether in Eagles concerts or on classic-rock radio. Here are some of his most indelible moments.