Glenn Frey: An Oral History
Ambitious Midwestern kid learns to play guitar, moves to California and strikes gold with a rock & roll band: In many ways, that was the basic tale of Glenn Frey, who died at 67 on January 18th of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. The band, of course, was the Eagles, which Frey co-founded with his longtime, on-and-off partner Don Henley 45 years ago, and that was Frey’s lead voice, of course, on “Tequila Sunrise,” “Take It Easy,” “New Kid in Town,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Already Gone” and other songs that have become a part of the band’s — and rock & roll’s — canon.
Yet his stormy tenure with the Eagles — and the way the cocky, surefooted Frey and the more analytical Henley worked together to write songs and steer the band — was only part of his saga. Frey’s journey mirrored that of many members of his generation: a wild rock & roll lifestyle that led to a good-health makeover, settled-down family life, and reconciliation with his past and former partners. (And, in Frey’s case, with stops in between for movie and TV acting roles and solo hits.) In their own words, Frey’s friends, colleagues and business associates recall the Eagle’s life and times.
Bob Seger (longtime friend who co-wrote “Heartache Tonight” with Henley, Frey and J.D. Souther): Glenn was like the kid brother I never had. We met around Detroit when he was 17 or 18 and I was 20 or 21. He had long hair, was really hippie-ied out. We were both dating girls who were in a band called the Mama Cats, and we were both in bands. He brought me home to his house in 1967, and we played Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced. At the end, we looked at each other and said, “Are we out of a job?” His mom caught us smoking pot together.
Glenn was in a band called the Mushrooms, and I produced and wrote their first single. One day, we were going to become a band of our own — he and I and a drummer practiced all day. Glenn was singing “Substitute” — he loved that Who song — and we were working out vocal harmonies. My manager Punch [Andrews] called me the next day and said, “You’ll never make it — you’re both too headstrong. It’s better you’re in separate bands.”
I knew Glenn was going to be something. We recorded [Seger’s first major hit] “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” — his voice on the first chorus, that says it all. He blurts out above everybody, just wailing. “Ramblin’ man!” — it’s louder than shit.
Glenn Frey (on moving from Michigan to California, Rolling Stone, 1975): Well, the truth was that I was gonna buy drugs in Mexico and see a girlfriend who’d moved out here with her sister. My parents told me that if I was going to California, they weren’t gonna give me a goddamn dime. They would send me five or 10 bucks in every letter: “Buy yourself a nice breakfast and a pack of cigarettes.”
Diddy Accuses Spirits Company Diageo of Racial Discrimination in Lawsuit
- 'Illusion of Inclusion'