The sudden death of Glenn Frey earlier this month almost certainly means that the Eagles are finished. They carried on after Bernie Leadon, Randy Meisner and Don Felder left the fold, but the Eagles without Glenn Frey? It's impossible to imagine. As the years went by, Don Henley may have taken on a greater share of lead vocal duties, but Frey remained the soul of the group. He left behind an amazing catalog of songs, both solo and with the Eagles, and we asked our readers to vote on their favorites. Here are the results.
Bill Hader and Fred Armisen were inspired by create their own spoof of a 1970s soft rock band the Blue Jean Committee after watching the riveting 2013 documentary History of the Eagles and noticing the hysterical contrast between the band's mellow music and their extreme alpha male personalities. Their mellowest song, and that's saying a lot, must be their 1972 single "Peaceful Easy Feeling," written by Jack Tempchin. The song hit Number 22 on the Hot 100, and in The Big Lebowski, the Dude was forced out of his cab when he asked that this song be turned off. "Jesus, man, can you change the station?" he said. "I had a rough night, and I hate the fuckin' Eagles." Years later, Glenn Frey confronted Jeff Bridges about the scene. "I can't remember what he said exactly," Bridges said. "But you know, my anus tightened a bit."
When the Eagles split in 1980, nobody knew how they'd do on their own. As Mick Jagger, Jimmy Page and many others have proven, fame in a mega-band doesn't always translate to solo success. It can even work against you since fans are unwilling to accept you in another context. Glenn Frey proved he could stand on his own with the release of "The One You Love," the first single from his solo debut, No Fun Aloud. He teamed up again with songwriter Jack Tempchin again for the collection, and this sax-driven track reached Number 15 on the Hot 100. Just months later, Don Henley responded with I Can't Stand Still and the "Dirty Laundry" single. The heat was on, and the former bandmates were now competing for slots on AOR radio stations.
A few months before Beverly Hills Cop hit theaters in 1984, Glenn Frey was called into the studio to watch an early cut of the film with temporary music. European songwriting team Harold Faltermeyer and Keith Forsey had written "The Heat Is On," and they needed someone to sing it. "I look over my shoulder – Quincy Jones. OK. I look over my shoulder – Stevie Wonder," Frey said. "Look back over here, it's the Pointer Sisters. I'm sitting there going, 'I'm dead. There's no way I'm getting a song in Beverly Hills Cop.' " Much to his surprise, about two months later, they asked him to cut a vocal. The movie was an an enormous hit, launching the song to Number Two on the Hot 100. It was the biggest hit of his solo career.
If it was the mid-1980s and you were making a movie or TV show about daring police station officers stationed in warm-weather vacation destinations, Glenn Frey was the guy you called for the soundtrack. One year after "The Heat Is On" appeared in Beverly Hills Cop, Michael Mann tagged him for Miami Vice. He acted on a first season episode, and wrote "You Belong to the City" for the second season opener. The sax-driven song was kept out of the Number One spot on the Hot 100 by fellow 1970s survivors Starship and their song "We Built This City" (a big week for "city" songs), but it was still such a big hit that the Eagles felt compelled to feature it in their live show when they reunited in 1994. (Take time to watch the video. It's a great look at mid-1980s New York City.)
It's largely forgotten now, but the Eagles went through a minor slump after Desperado failed to sell as well as their debut LP. They came roaring back in March of 1974 when they dropped On The Border, which had a harder sound thanks to new guitarist Don Felder and new producer Bill Szymczyk. The lead-off song was "Already Gone," written by Jack Tempchin and Robb Strandlund. It reached Number 32 (their first Top 40 since "Peaceful Easy Feeling") and helped the record sell over two million copies. It was the beginning of a whole new era for the group.
The first Eagles album didn't feature a single song written by Don Henley and Glenn Frey. Outside writers Jackson Browne, Gene Clark and Jack Tempchin contributed a bit, and the rest were penned by individual members of the group. When it came time to write songs for Desperado, Frey and Henley realized they made a good team. One of the first tracks they wrote was "Tequila Sunrise." The title came from a popular orange juice and vodka cocktail from the era. It stalled at Number 64 on the Hot 100, but it's had a long afterlife.
Glenn Frey's 1984 tune "Smuggler's Blues" not only gave him a huge radio hit, but it caught the attention of Miami Vice creator Michael Mann. He thought the tale of a drug smuggler sounded like the perfect plot for his new television series, and he named the 15th episode after the song, even using some of the lyrics as actual dialogue. Glenn Frey was hired to portray an airplane pilot despite his complete lack of acting experience. It helped drive the song up the charts, and it gave Frey an entirely new career in Hollywood.
Don Henley, Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther were hanging out at Dan Tana's bar in Hollywood when they saw a gorgeous, young blond woman with an older man. Frey laughed to his buddies and said, "Look at those lyin' eyes." The phrase instantly struck a chord, and they took out a napkin and began scribbling down lyrics about a cheating girlfriend. The song became the second single from 1975's On The Border. It reached Number Two and won a Grammy for Album of the Year. If the woman from the bar is still alive, she certainly has no idea what she inspired.
The population of Winslow, Arizona, is a mere 9,479. It's a three-hour drive from Phoenix through mostly empty desert, yet every year, scores of tourists flock to the tiny town in Navajo County to take photos of a street corner and imagine a young girl in a flatbed Ford slowing down to take a look at Glenn Frey. The Eagles singer and his "Take It Easy" co-writer Jackson Browne made the town so famous that the city erected a statue of a guy on a corner near a mural of a girl in a Ford. The song was the Eagles' first single back in May of 1972. They had a ton of hits afterward, but the opening notes never failed to make audiences scream with pure delirium. In many ways, it is their signature song, more iconic than even "Hotel California." If Jackson Browne had done nothing else with his life other than write half of it, he'd still be a very wealthy man.
The Eagles had only been on the scene for four-and-a-half years when they released "New Kid in Town" as the first single from Hotel California, but punk and disco (not to mention Bruce Springsteen) were threatening to make them seem passé. The song is about the pain of watching your girlfriend take off with a new man, but they admitted it was also about their fears of fans moving on to newer, hipper acts. Thankfully for them, the success of this song and the entire Hotel California album showed them they had nothing to worry about. Eagles fans were never going to leave the band. Their real problems came a few short years later when the Eagles decided to move on from the Eagles.