He lived the American Dream.
You know, wherein your wits, smarts and pluck, never mind the gleam in your eye, take you from nothing to everything, in this case not only accumulating riches, but influencing the culture.
And there were those who hated him for it.
They lionize Steve Jobs. And Mark Zuckerberg. The techies that changed the world.
But they hate Glenn Frey and his flock of Eagles for being so damn successful, for worming their way into women’s hearts. And let me be clear, it’s always guys complaining about the Eagles, girls loved them. Because females are not into pecking order, not married to the past, they can embrace that which truly satisfies, casting preconceptions aside.
And the preconception was that you had to be English, with bad teeth and little education, or American and challenging cultural commandments, or else you didn’t matter. Gram Parsons might be the father of country rock, but he could never compose a song that penetrated the public consciousness to the point that radio stations could not stop playing it and none of us could ever forget it.
Like “Take It Easy.”
That acoustic guitar came out of the speaker in the dashboard and in the summer of ’72 all of America felt good. It was a different country back then, divided for sure, but we still believed we were winners, that if we put our minds to it we would come out on top. We were never gonna be here again, so we opened up and took across this great country of ours, lived life to the fullest, with the radio blasting all the while.
And despite the hit single, it was the era of album rock. So upon hearing the mellifluous tune you went out and purchased the Asylum LP and…you played it over and over again. Thirty seven minutes long, the debut had no clunkers, it begged to be heard. Take that modern music.
But the follow-up was a commercial dud. “Desperado” got no traction, not the LP nor the title track. The press had primed us for it, back when “Rolling Stone” was the bible of a generation, but without a hit single “Desperado” faded in an era where music dominated and we couldn’t afford to buy all we wanted.
And then “Best Of My Love” went to number one. Credit a deejay, who rejected the two authorized singles in favor of it. Suddenly, the Eagles owned the airwaves.
Of course Glenn would tell us they were called “Eagles,” and was unhappy that everyone appended the “the,” but he and the rest of the band were thrilled with the attention and the dough. They were rock stars. Raising funds for political candidates and partaking of the goodies that accompany the success. It’s one thing to be rich and famous, it’s another thing for it to be based on your creativity, your art. These are the people we exalt. The Eagles were at the pinnacle, especially with the following year’s “One Of These Nights,” they were a stadium act, the biggest band in the land.
And the hatred ensued.
But unlike today’s wimpy musicians, the Eagles barked back, owned their talent and success. Funny how we give Kanye a pass, despite not having made memorable music for years, but we excoriate the SoCal band that was bigger than the rest.
But no one was prepared for “Hotel California.” When you dropped the needle on the record you heard a sound foreign to the catalog. The guitars screamed and if they were big before, the Eagles were now America’s band.
It was “Life In The Fast Lane.” A term every baby boomer knows and said for decades, when they snorted coke, when they did what they should not do. The Eagles blasted open the highway and then we drove right down it.
And now Glenn Frey is gone.
I felt he would make it. It had been weeks, he’d made it through the dreaded holiday period, but then he passed.
And America was shocked.
The press didn’t know how to react. Because they had to be cool, they couldn’t attest to what data tells us, that the Eagles are the biggest American band in history.
Their “Greatest Hits” jockeys with “Thriller” for number one. And unlike so many albums of the past, it still sells. It’s not in the rearview mirror. The strange thing about the Eagles is they never went away. They inspired the country pickers and they still own the bars and the radio. That’s what you get what you’re that damn good.
And there’s no one better.
I know, I know, you’ll cite artists breaking convention, your favorite player, but the truth is writing catchy songs with meaning and singing them with exquisite harmonies is damn hard to do, it’s just that the Eagles made it look easy. Hell, half of Nashville walks in their footsteps, but no one’s done it nearly as well, and so many of those stars don’t even write their own material.
But the Eagles did. With help from J.D., Jackson and Jack Tempchin. But they weren’t guns for hire, but members of the club, a roaming group of musicians who owned the hearts and minds of America throughout the seventies, and didn’t let go thereafter.
So you’re either sad or you’re not.
But if you are…
67 is way too young. And although Don Henley had more solo success, it was Glenn’s band. He started it, he guided it. And every group needs a driving force.
So it’s the end of an era. And it’s a great loss. You’ll never be able to see the Eagles again. But if you did…
The sun would be setting behind the stage.
And at the appointed time, with no wait, they would take the stage and Glenn would say…
They were the Eagles from Southern California.
And the guitars would strum, the bass would pluck, the drums would pound and as the sound washed over you you’d become your best self.
America runs on California. That’s where the innovation begins, where you go to test limits, where there’s no ceiling on either creativity or success.
And people hate California the same way they hate the Eagles.
But what they really want to do is get on board.
And we all got on board with the Eagles. Even those who say they do not care. They only wish they were standing on that corner in Winslow, Arizona, with a girl checking them out.
In a flatbed Ford, made in Detroit. Where Glenn Frey emanated from.
But he remembered his roots.
And built upon them.
Want to be successful?
Need it. Study. Make friends. Seize opportunities.
And take no shit as you ascend into the stratosphere.
That’s what Glenn Frey did.
You cannot make a big enough deal about his death. Because what once was is now gone. Doesn’t mean we can’t create something new, but so far we haven’t minted stars as big as those from the seventies, never mind create music as memorable.
Glenn Frey was here for the long run. He got stuck in the Hotel California and he wasn’t eager to get out. But we all meet our demise, his as a result of side effects from arthritis drugs, he just didn’t want the pain.
None of us want the pain. We’re self-medicating every day.
But years ago the music was enough. We just turned on the stereo and a smile crossed our face.
Glenn Frey took us there.
Now we don’t know where to go.
NOTE: Feedback to this after the jump
There will be a lot said about Glenn in the coming days and I’ll be saying some of it but this tribute will be hard to top. Thank you for getting the essence, power, and influence of my first songwriting partner and best friend in LA.
Nice tribute to Glenn and the band. I am bummed, but very grateful that I got the privilege of participating in the History Of tour for the last two years, and play the music again, with Glenn and Don, Timothy and Joe. And I have stayed in touch with Randy Meisner and Don Felder as well.
There is a song that Glenn wrote before the band started, which he played for us at the very first rehearsal at S.I.R in L.A in late summer 1971, when the original four Eagles first strapped on instruments and played together as a band. The song was “Most of Us Are Sad”, which the band recorded on the first album, titled simply “Eagles”.
Randy sang the song on the album, and very well indeed. But it was Glenn’s song, and when I first heard it, I thought it was a very good and insightful song, as this was a guy saying that, back when guys didn’t admit weakness much, or vulnerability. That song was an album cut, never got airplay, and we didn’t play it on stage, since we already played several waltzes, and couldn’t do more mellow songs in the show. But listen to it now, and it might make you feel better, knowing that we’re not the only ones sad today.
One thing I learned over the years about a songwriter expressing very personal feelings, is that it turns out that since all humans feel essentially the same feelings, but that most folks don’t know how to express them, that when a songwriter talks about something very personal, it turns out to have universal appeal, because everyone can say “yeah! That’s how I feel! He understands me like no one else!” So in a very counterintuitive way, its not the large general statement which has universal appeal, but rather the most intimate and personal which does.
I am very proud of what the band achieved, and grateful for the opportunity to be part of it, both from the first rehearsals and show, to the very last one on July 29 in the Shreveport suburb of Bossier City (with a 38 year gap in the middle…..). At the end of that last show, after the first encore Hotel California, as we were preparing to return to the stage for the last three encores (Take It Easy, Rocky Mt. Way, and Desperado), Glenn gave me a big hug, said “This isn’t the end”, and another big hug. We hit the stage, took our bows, went out the back to our vehicles, and off into our separate lives again. So I am very grateful today that this was my last interaction with Glenn, and that we did achieve what he said he was aiming for, to “go out on a high note”.
None of us could quite hit the same high notes that we could in the 70’s (except maybe Henley still can…..), but it was only down about a half step, which is pretty good. Glenn was such a trouper during the History tour, as I fully realize now with my better understanding of the physical challenges he was battling every day out there. Like you said in your commentary, “they hit the stage with no delay”. The only delay there ever was on the History tour, was to maybe hold the curtain for 5 or 10 minutes, to allow more of the audience time to get seated. Then we promptly started the show, which lasted 3 and a half hours, every night.
The truth is, as you said, that Glenn was the primary energy behind the Eagles success, as he was relentless. We all had a lot of energy and drive, but Glenn was pushing it and us all the time. So hat’s off, Glenn. Job extremely well done. Millions of people have been positively affected, cheered up, supported. May your wife Cindy and your kids take comfort in that realization, and may we all be grateful as we continue to live our lives, accompanied by your soundtrack.
Vaya Con Dios
Bob, It was 1981 and my band, Jack Mack and the Heart Attack was playing every Thursday night at the Club Lingerie on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood. Even though by law the place held 325 people, we packed it with 900 hot sweaty bodies all of which were grooving to the great Soul Music played by this amazing powerhouse band.
It’s strange how unfortunate circumstances can turn out to be fortunate. I was in a car accident on Dec 31, 1981, breaking 7 ribs in half. One of the band members good friend Josh Leo subbed for me while I was recovering. As it turned out Josh was playing on Glenn Frey’s solo record at the time so one night he brought Glenn down to the club to check out the band. Most people thought of Glenn as a country rocker but he was deeply rooted in Soul music having grown up in Detroit. Glenn loved the band and decided instantaneously that he wanted to produce a record on us. Soon after, he called a lunch meeting with our lead singer Max Carl, myself and his manager, Irving Azoff. Glenn basically, over a salad, told Irving to sign us and so Irving said of course and put us on his Full Moon /Warner Bros. label. Within one week we were at Wilder Bros Recording Studios in Century City making our first album, Cardiac Party which we released in 1982. tinyurl.com/zhxl78e. The record contract had not even been drawn up yet but with Glenn a handshake was good enough. Glenn even paid for all of it out of his own pocket until the record label money kicked in. He brought in his Eagle guys, Norton, Tommy Nixon and Alan Blazek to be there every day and made sure the studio was stocked with cases of long neck Budweiser’s and a complete array of Deli food and beverages.
He was a very regimented guy. Every day we would start recording at exactly 1pm. He would say, “1 for 2”, meaning get there at 1 and start playing at 2. We had written 10 original songs and we had been performing them every Thursday night so it wasn’t a matter of learning them It was more about getting the right performance. Glenn always wanted a first take on each song so he wouldn’t let us play the songs more then once. After each take we would go out back and shoot hoops or eat or something before attempting another take. I still have a weird knuckle from jamming a finger in one of those games. He would never let us record with any echo or reverb, everything had to be super dry and so if you listen the record you will hear how dry it is. He had his way of doing things and there was no bending the rules.
One day our trumpet player John Berry (JB), was recording a track with our infamous Heart Attack horns and his horn was falling apart so Glenn, knowing we were broke musicians, offered to buy him a new horn. When JB came in the next day with a beautiful new trumpet Glenn realized the rest of us might be resentful so Glenn announced that we should each go out and buy an instrument of our choosing and he would pay for it. I found a 1959 Fender Stratocaster which to this day is still my favorite guitar. In another act of generosity, at the end of the 6 weeks of recording Glenn tossed me the keys to his house in Kauai and said, “go have a good time”. He really did have a big heart.
Glenn was like no other. He was a sport fanatic. He gave all of us what he called our monster names. I think mine was Dave. Your monster name was your alter ego. It was who you became when you were mind was slightly altered. Glenn had several; Duane, X and probably a few more. X Came out after midnight. He was super smart and funny guy but man you didn’t want to be around him when he was pissed off. He loved to get high and had everything timed. One thing at 2pm another at 5pm another at 11pm.
I will never forget something Glenn told me. He said, “every song should have a hero, someone to route for”. I still think about that when I write. I will never forget those 6 weeks in the studio with Glenn. I learned so much from him. I think of him every time I pick up my 59 Strat which he bought me. Glenn was generous, and gave us a shot when no one else would. He left the world too soon. His legacy will be his timeless, great songs
“I hate ‘Hotel California’,” said a friend of mine. “If they play the song in a bar, I’ll walk out, even if I’ve just ordered a drink.”
And now there’s a video making the rounds where Glenn Frey rants at Jeff Bridges because he said he hated the Eagles in THE GREAT LEBOWSKI.
I never saw the Eagles in performance, leaving Los Angeles in 1971, the year they formed, and by 1976 I was in Hawaii, listening to steel guitars. But I sure do know the Eagles’ music and when I hear “Hotel California” in a bar, I order a second drink and buy one for a friend and if there’s no friend, for a stranger. There are Eagles songs I prefer – “Take It Easy,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “James Dean” – but I’ll take anything that band delivered. And I treasure the telephone calls I got from Glenn in Hawaii. Why did he call? I’d written a book about Elvis, published the year the Eagles were born, and he just wanted to talk about him. So we did.
Guitar Player magazine credited Elvis with making it cool for guys to play the guitar again and by the time Glenn and his friends came along, the guitar was the key to getting laid. The Eagles were not only deservedly praised for their songs and country-rock harmonies, they were one of the greatest guitar bands of all time. They had everything. So, sure, some guys hate them. I love the great Lebowski, but that dude was envious, too.
Good column, Bob. Thanks, Jerry Hopkins
God knows I’ve got some Eagles stories, but one of my favorites comes from 1973, when I did a show with them at Michigan State in 1973 (with Gram Parsons opening!), a few weeks after the Desperado album came out.
As everyone knows, Glenn was from Detroit (Royal Oak, to be specific). So, when they played at the school, Glenn’s Mom drove the 90 miles to East Lansing to see her son play. At the time, she was a waitress in a diner called Suzie Q on Woodward Avenue, a few miles north of 8 Mile Road between Royal Oak and Birmingham. That’s the kind of world Glenn came from–middle class, blue collar-ish.
Anyway, she and I were standing at the back of the stage watching while the band sound checked.
She said, “This is really great.”
I said, “Yeah, headlining the MSU Auditorium.”
And then she looked me straight in the eyes and said, “No, you don’t understand. Glenn tried to go to school at Michigan State and couldn’t get in. And now look at him.”
My friend Steven told me a great story today. In his middle teens he hung around with the band and was a sometime roadie when they were in SoCal. Irving hooked him up with All Access passes.
He was standing on the stage next to an amp stack waiting for the show to start when Glenn slides up next to him and says “Hey kid, do me a favor. Walk out to that center front mic and stand there for a second and then come back over here”.
So Steven walks out and before he can get to the mic the building erupts. After a second he walks back and Glenn is just standing there grinning and Steven realizes he’s just been given a gift he will never forget.
I was born in February of 1960 and grew up glued to the radio. I played guitar in folk mass in the Catholic Church and when the Eagles busted out on the scene me and the other folk mass pickers would strum our out of tune guitars to Take It Easy. I was 12 years old. Holy crap, I got so into it that I’d play it over and over and over. All of those songs are in my DNA and they taught me all I needed to know about how to sing harmony.
Last night I played a show in St Petersburg Florida because that’s what I do. I travel from town to town to town on a tour that never ends and sing my songs. I’ve done it for years. So last night I was playing on stage with my pal Grant Lee Phillips and out of nowhere we busted into Take It Easy. We didn’t plan it nor did we rehearse it- it just happened. It was almost Pavlovian. I started strumming the chords and Grant Lee immediately joined in and our harmonies just happened as if we were programmed. It was almost like The Manchurian Candidate as the song began and we both started playing from our subconscious. We smiled at each other and then as I looked up every single person in that audience joined in and raised their glasses high in the air and screamed “it’s a girl my lord in a flat bed ford slowin down to take a look at me” at the top of their bloody lungs.
It was beautiful.
Thank you Glenn Frey. Rest in peace.
When we – the Christopher Cross band – opened a tour for the Eagles back in ’80, when we were a brand new act, Glenn was the one who welcomed us with open arms. He treated us newbies like part of the gang, and was always ready for a hang, some laughs, and some good old R&B.
Glenn was an open-hearted, decent guy. When i ran into him decades later, at a high school musical that his daughter was in, he was all hugs and grins and just as warm as all those years before.
I’ve done a lot of incredibly fun work with Jack Tempchin over the years, and still do, playing their songs, and I don’t like thinking of no more Glenn. My experience with him was of a kind and gracious man.
Watching our contemporaries who led the charge and played such roles in our lives slip away is painful. The music is still there but everything around it seems to be fading as if it were all done with disappearing ink. Some things just won’t be possible anymore and it almost brings into question whether what we lived through ever even happened.
As an East Coaster, the Beach Boys were alien, you had to go to California to get it. Not so the Eagles. They are the closest thing to the Beatles we’ve ever produced as a country. In the end they were not only uniquely ours, but they belonged to world as well.
It’s been a really crappy year so far.
My life will never be the same. He was “Eagles”. It’s Your World Now…
It was tough last week losing Bowie…but what a shock losing Glenn Frey today. I’ve been a southern Cal boy my whole life and they were my rock band in the 70’s.
Hotel California and The Long Run summed up the excess of the 70’s, and they foresaw the even more craziness of the 80’s.
Great songwriter….one of the best bands to come out of SoCal. He could take a off-hand statement, “Lyin’ Eyes”, and turn it in to a great song.
Thanks for this, Bob. I cannot believe the cheap cracks people are making about Frey and Henley. As I told the journalist Ed Baumgardner: It’s fine to dislike the Eagles. It is NOT fine to revise rock history to meet some asshole hipster condescending revisionist view of rock history. Sorry, kids, but like them or not, they were a hugely important band. Hell, all of contemporary country is a tribute to them…. And Frey is central to that…. props where props are due, what I say, to paraphrase Faulkner….
Hey Bob. I read everything but rarely reply. I’m in the Long Ryders, one
of Gram?s bastard sons of LA country rock. We spent a lot of time trying
to protect his legacy and vision and are still true believers. The Eagles
took what they wanted then flipped it all on its ear and wrote big mother
fucking hits. And you are so right about how much the girls loved them. It
was cool being a band the critics dug, but I ended up with a day job.
Being in a band that had huge hits, got the girls and defined a moment in
time is something to tip your hat to. Right on Glenn and RIP.
I grew up when it was cool to hate the Eagles.
I don’t hate the Eagles. I hate how great they were and how they set the bar so high.
The Fallen Stars
I totally and completely agree with every syllable here.
Imagine the luxury of working up the set list when you can pick from dozens of gems.
Right on, Bob.
– an English punk rocker aging gracefully.
I’m listening to the Eagles while reading your beautiful words and it makes me sad that I was too young to experience them and their incredible music at their height and not rich enough to be able to see them in their reunion tours haha. I’m a child of the late 70’s and my earliest memory of Glen was hearing his solo work like “The Heat is Gone” when my dad would listen to top 40 radio stations. It also makes me mad that my parents weren’t cool enough to be listening to the Eagles so I didn’t get that exposure when I was young. At least we can take comfort in the fact that the music is still here for us. Thanks Bob.
I remember loving The Eagles when I was a child and all my friends and I loved them a lot!
As I got older and went through college and grad school they were in the rearview mirror as we learned about other groups and musicians!
When I got into my 30’s I started listening to them again and certain songs resonated with me like Desperado and also Lying Eyes! I would play them in my car and teach them to my children and my kids would love them! I went to their shows and also sold a shitload of tickets to them even as they jacked up the prices! Now he’s gone! If you didn’t see them then now you can when hell freezes over. It’s upsetting that Bowie died but it also bothers me more that Frey is gone! We were all blessed with them and I am so happy for that! My 17 year old daughter tells me that we had all the good music and the music of their times suck! I couldn’t agree more!
Even you belong to the city was/is great! Smugglers blues! It makes me want to put on my pink jacket and shades like we did in the 80’s when we were kids trying to be like Miami vice with Glen Frey in the background! I have to go put kids to bed! “The heat is on”
Early 1973, living in Minneapolis, where I naively thought I would get into radio and work at some progressive FM station, only to find that a radio license would put me in Bemidji, or Mankato, reading livestock futures and playing a heart-stirring selection of Mantovani and Perry Como. The cool job at the cool station never panned out, but while there, I got to see some great shows. Eagles (OK, Glenn, no “the”) were second on a bill with Gentle Giant and Yes. Imagine a promoter willing to put such a grab bag together now. Not gonna happen-you don’t want to shock anyone with real variety when the big bucks are on the line. This was the original line-up with Bernie and Randy on board, and they took no prisoners that night. Gentle Giant was nothing if not theatric and dynamic, so then, on come these guys that looked as out of place as galoshes on a super model and they smoke the place. I like to think they relished challenges like that-winning over a possibly hostile crowd waiting for a band they had little in common with-and they did. They opened with Chug All Night, but it was Witchy Woman that finally pulled the lever. Great early show, and I saw them a few other times in the 70’s, but that one stayed with me. It was new, like a mix of Byrds/Burritos & and Beach Boys, and one listen to the album I bought the next day (instead of Close To The Edge-yup, we always had to choose back then) told me that these guys were the real deal. It’s still my favorite, and when I moved to Phoenix, you know I had to spend the night in Winslow, Arizona, and yes, romantic dork that I am, I stood on a corner and waited for that flatbed Ford to drive by.
So, Glenn has stormed off the mortal coil, and some people still can’t let it go. Yes, they were huge, and yes, the earned every drop of success they got. Why should that ever be an excuse to berate a real artist? Love ’em, like ’em, or hate ’em, they were a force unto themselves and no snarky rejection can change what they accomplished together. Nobody really hates them anyway, because down deep, you can’t deny great songs and great musicians. Hating the Eagles is just a hipness accessory that no longer has any glow.
I grew up in North Carolina and this music made me want to move to California since I was twelve years old. We will always have the music, but I will miss Glenn. Thanks for your words.
Great, he was a true son of Detroit that brought the California dream to the airwaves.
Capitol Music Group
I’m very sad. Glad I saw them two times recently. When I first started loving music they were heroes to me. And cute guys in faded jeans with gorgeous harmonies. Swooning at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic NJ. What more could a 14-year-old girl want?
I love the Eagles. I grew up listening to my dads many Eagles vinyl albums and I learned to play drums to Don and learned to sing and play guitar all guided by the Eagles. The songwriting was simply incredible and you cannot have the Eagles without Glenn Frey. A legend of legends.
Didn’t know the man personally but I will always refer to him as just Glenn. I feel like I did know him and he knew me. Glenn dished out the sound track to some of the best times of our lives. I will not recover from this loss. I didn’t realize it until now, It is going to be very difficult to suffer through the many losses we have ahead of us.
Don’t forget Seven Bridges Road, written by Steve Young. How many bands would have had the nerve or the ability to sing that extended acapella intro? Not one of their catchy top 10 hits, just a great song.
So sad, end of an era, way too young….
I saw them March last year – not knowing that was the last date I would go on with my husband ( we split a few weeks later). For me Hotel California was the soundtrack of my teens here in Godzone and I honestly believed the world was my oyster. Their music had never been lost over the decades – we always go back to it because everything else out there is crap and The Eagles always make you feel so damned good about yourself.
I’ve been crying since Monday like so many people. It’s also incredible how many generations of fans the Eagles have. My aunt was an Eagles fanatic and dragged my mom to one of their shows in 1994 and my mom was hooked. Then they introduced me and I fell in love with them. And there I was, at the age of seventeen spending hundreds of dollars, (probably around 5 paychecks at the time) to buy my mom and I front row seats for their show at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. It was an amazing night that I will never forget. Probably the only night of my life that I ever really spent bonding with my mom.
The date of that show was January 21, 1995. We’re on the 21 year anniversary and now Glenn is gone.
Glenn’s death is gut wrenching on many levels. One being that this is the end of the Eagles and two, it’s another reminder that we’re going to be losing everybody over the next 10 years. All the rest of the legends from the 70’s. We’re already seeing it with Bowie last week and now Glenn.
And of the 100’s of shows that I’ve attended over the last 20 years, I believe that Glenn is the first to die of all the artists/bands that I’ve ever seen live.
And I know it had to happen at some point, but it doesn’t make it any easier. There’s a lot to mourn here. Not only an incredible songwriter and musician, but also the greatest American band of all time and ALL the many memories we have tied to them. The memories we made at their concerts and where we were as we listened to their songs.
And though there are plenty of musicians out there with talent, it’s a different time and place now. I live in Nashville where it seems much of the town can play an instrument and can carry a tune, but those who truly blow me away, are very few and far between. The Eagles blew me away.
I only hope that somehow Glenn can see all the flowers and candles left on the corner of Winslow, AZ. I hope somehow he can see the outpouring of love across social media. We’re all still in shock, processing this loss and dreading who will be next. Our favorite musicians are like family, we’ve had them in our homes for so long…and we’re never ready to say goodbye.
As Henley says, “One day they’re here, the next day they’re gone.”
Well said… Never been an Eagles hater. Always been one of my favorites since I was introduced to them in my sophomore year of high school in ’91. A time when Vanilla Ice ruled the airwaves I was drawn in by beautiful harmonies and ACTUAL songwriting.
He was too young… Music has a gaping hole in its heart.
I was a kid, a year older than you, headed out on the upper midwest road band circuit when the Eagles hit. They were a game changer compared to prior “country rock”, i.e. Nashville Skyline, the Band, rocked up country and of course Flying Burrito Brothers.
In the jukebox world in which I lived (a young bass player moving gig to gig across upper WI, MN, and the Dakotas was not buying anything but cigarettes, gas, and hamburgers), I heard a lot of Tequila Sunrise and Desperado. They were both in heavy rotation.
Bob, thank you for putting my thoughts into words.
I am, a nearly 69 year old Australian, who has been mostly on the biz side of music since the mid-60s.
Glenn and (the) Eagles songs spoke for many of us here, as well.
I have spent the last few days defending my love of the Eagles, especially after reading that article in the NY Daily News. But I realized it’s music. You either like or you don’t. And I love the Eagles. And the more I read about them and the more I listened, the more I wanted to be them. Their strive for perfect harmonies over a perfect pop tune with a perfect dynamic blend of instruments gave me insight into what I wanted my material to emulate. It still does to this day. I never saw them in their hey day, but when the Hell Freezes Over Tour happened, I stood in line for hours at Tower Records to get tickets to the show. Even my shitty standing in the lawn tickets at an impossible ankle tearing angle were worth it!
Thanks for sharing your generous and provoking thoughts. I wanted to be in a band where chicks were all about the band and the Eagles showed us that it could happen!
RIP Glenn Fry your music will live on.
Thank you for putting this into such eloquent words. The passing of Bowie cut, but the passing of Frey is the dagger. Thanks to your writing I can get my finger on it: Glenn Frey was ours, and The Eagles are America. They were the soundtrack of my youth in the 70’s, and has the man himself said in History of the Eagles, thanks to classic rock radio in the 80’s, they never really went away when the broke up.
Thank you Frey for the songs that will never die. See you on the other side.
He and Henley were Americas answer to Lennon and McCartney. Unbelievable songs and recordings. Still inspirational to me.
James Lee Stanley
Great article. I love the Eagles. They were fantastic song writers. Every time a truly great star dies I pick up my Yahama acoustic and go through their hits. Last week it was Bowie, this week it was Glenn Frey.
I was playing ‘ Taking it Easy’ and my wife was cooking the chicken curry in the adjacent kitchen humming along. I was singling out loud imagining I was in Southern California under a setting sun (actually -10 Deg C in rural Scotland)
‘I love the way your silver ear rings lay
Upon your skin so brown
And I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight
Under the stars all around’
You are absolutely correct the Eagles songs connect with women and also provide the spirit of America
Oh I wish I could write songs even as close as good as theirs!
The guitars sparkle on hotel California song. The multiple tracking overdubs make them glisten and you can imagine the studio sessions even now. They weren’t comped and tuned, compressed into tiny digital 000s and 111s, they were just epic.
It makes me sad i never got to see them. But we are working on making music that speaks to people, like these guys did. Your letters give us something that evens out our days, that harks to a period we never really got to live through or properly see; we were both born 20-something years too late, but that doesn’t matter, because you bring it to life now. We came to California because this is the land where we thought we could really give music a go. Times have changed but that dream still lives on. Thank you reminding us how to keep that Alive.
Max And Esmay Luck
From london acoustic music duo, The Luck
I was just knee-high when “Take it Easy” was on the radio, but when I was old enough to lob few hundred dollars across the counter at Tech Hi-Fi, and unwrap to that new stereo system, Hotel California was “what was on the radio”.
It was on the radio so much I figured that’s what radio must be… That and Bruce Springsteen.
I always laugh when my musician friends, some successful and some not, bust on the Eagles. If they can nail any of those guitar solos, note for note, then I’ll stop laughing (briefly), but to me those guys: rocked. They wrote great songs and they could play the hell out of those guitars.
They played stadiums and they had a plane with their name on it.
I thank the stars I ponied up more money than I wanted to to see them at the Garden last year. I commented more than once how hard those guys were working – the show was 2 1/2 hours plus. Unbelievably tight and perfect, perfect harmonies. Guitar sounded so good you could cry. I would have never known that Glenn was sick or that he wasn’t feeling “up to it” I guess that work ethic you’ve mentioned.
I’m heartbroken I won’t get to take my own son (11): I almost brought him to the Atlantic City stop last summer but the timing wasn’t right. I wanted him to see one of the hardest working band in show business and hear 2 1/2 hours of some of the best that American songwriting had to offer.
Bowie broke my heart but in truth I’m a New Yorker and many of us knew he was not well. This was from left field and I can’t even go on social media this week – there’s gonna be a heartache tonight – and for a long while.
They were like a bad automobile accident, I didn’t want to look, but I couldn’t help myself. The History Of The Eagles was the most fascinating rock doc ever, I hated them, but I wanted to be them!
One other note, Bernie Leadon was the Izzy Stradlin of the Eagles. No one noticed him when he was there, but they weren’t nearly as good once he was gone.
“Another thing about The Eagles is that I hate them” – Robert Christgau. Why? Because they could actually play more than three chords, write intelligent rock and roll, understand the complexities of vocal harmony, respect and revere the history of the genre, and take it to new limits and beyond – unlike the shitty art-college /trust-fund-baby bands from NYC who could neither play, write, nor matter in the lasting scheme of things? Glenn Frey contributed more to music in his one line in “Take It Easy” than all of your worthless typing over the years, Christgau. Asshat.
God Bless Glenn Frey……well said. End of an era and the biggest chapter I my life.
They were a “lousy band?” really? I bet there are 100 million people who disagree. but it’s more than that, they were iconic, something we grew up on and whose songs still make us smile. RIP Glenn Frey
As an 80’s baby growing up in Detroit, I was raised on the local boys/bands done good – Glenn & The Eagles, Cooper, Seger, Grand Funk, Iggy, MC5, the list goes on. This experience helped me gain an appreciation for music at an early age.
Thank you for taking the time to write this, It’s refreshing to read something meaningful and from the heart.
All the best,
89X CIMX Detroit/Windsor
I visually remember the first time I heard those opening acoustic measures of “Take it Easy” that summer of ’72. I was captivated immediately and remain so. It sounds as fresh today as then. That’s writing!
You are so right… The 17yr old kid ran out, bought the album and wore it and several more copies through.
It’s a gut-punch to know what was, is no more. I have that same, but maybe not so deep a feeling of loss, as when John Lennon went down. (The Beatles never got back together as the Eagles did). Still it seemed there to have been potential for so much more.
Thanks again for the post.
Thanks Bob. That was a beautiful tribute to Glenn (and the band). Made me cry. So damn sad.
No link, from memory:
When Douglas Adams and team created the original radio version of “Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy”, the theme music featured a haunting space-cowboy guitar whine. According to Adams, people besieged the station / him / etc asking where they could get ahold of the music.
Adams enjoyed telling them that THEY ALREADY OWNED IT because it was very likely they’d bought Eagles’ “One Of These Nights” and the H2G2 theme, Journey of the Sorceror, was the last cut on the “other” side of that album, the side that almost nobody played!
Now Adams has gone, and everyone knows what the H2G2 theme is because you can search YouTube, but a good story from the days you evoke so well, the days when we had to buy the LP.
I heard the news and was stunned.
The next morning, I cried.
Because I knew.
I never understood why people had such a problem with the Eagles. Well, guys anyway, as you correctly point out. All I know, is that when I put on their music and it makes me happy.
Remember the day I was sitting in my ABC Burbank Office and a friend came by from WEA with the fresh off the press new Eagles single New Kid In Town. put a big ole smile on my face, could relate to the lyrics and the music was slick as ice. Thought it could have been the Everly Brothers if they were doing music in the 70’s, only better. Still listen to Hotel California, from time to time, to take me from Texas, back to California, and will continue to do so.
As the leader of weekend warrior bands for many years, I related to Glenn Frey. Sometimes you got to be a bastard to make things happen and someone’s always going to whine about it. But he made things happen. Henley has a great voice, but it was always Frey’s songs that I wanted to sing and play on the guitar, (got me laid too).
Bowie was amazing. But he was this weird, English guy who wore a lot of makeup and that made him harder to relate to. Glenn and the Eagles were the guys you wanted to be. They were just like us, but better – more talented and way cooler!
Not too many public figure passings impact me. But this one hurts. A lot! It’s a big loss for a man who could still do it all. And way too young…
I know when Jackson Browne goes I’ll feel the same way – because these guys write and sing songs that touch your heart and they become part of your life.
Life just got a little sadder for this kid of the 70’s…
Few of my true musical heroes gone in a short period of time, but for some reason this was indeed a heartache.
The world is a bit emptier now, but thank God the music lives on.
One of the privileges that the band I am in has, is to have been doing an Eagles tribute for the last 6 years. It takes 9 of us to do it, but we can cover all the parts. Many musicians dismiss Eagles music as easy to do, bla bla bla.
Of course they have never tried to do it faithfully.
I have to say that after 6 years, we can still go round and round to the same venues and do these shows to sold out houses. It absolutely amazes me.
I will also say that you can never do Eagles material and have it become second nature. Every time we start up a run of shows, I have to go back and go over all those guitar and vocal parts. Nothing stays the same throughout an entire song.
They truely knew how to craft a pop tune.
Everyone did their part in the Eagles, but to me Frey was the voice, soul, and drive of the band. RIP Mr. Frey.
Bill Scherer from MN.
I always liked the Eagles but was aware of how the critics – all men –
love to dis them. Even Robert Baird at Stereophile couldn?t comment on
Glenn Frey?s passing without throwing a punch.
But Baird only reinforces your comments: critics resented them because of
their success. Too bad.
I have always been taken by bands who could put on a harmony, and the
Eagle did it is spades. Frey?s vocal arrangements were the band?s
trademark, and never better than on ?New Kid in Town.?
Thanks for the thoughts.
Hey Bob- I waited painfully for your post because I couldn’t find enough news on Glenn’s passing to satisfy. Like more words could make it better. So much news on Bowie, an otherworldly cat….living, dreaming and creating from a place we could all only pretend we understood. And with a parting gift of afterlife music to boot…Genuis! Glenn all these years writing and performing stuff about us regular folks yearning, learning, lying, drugging, cheating, loving, aging etc…Almost every song of his tapped into every human emotion that you (or at the very least someone you knew) had ever had….Genuis!
I clearly remember at around age 14 standing in Shillito’s with my Mama and trying on clothes when Lyin’ Eyes came on in the store. I immediately asked for complete silence from not just my mother but everyone else in the changing stalls. I listened so intently. I knew that this was an amazing full on “story” I was hearing and I also knew that it was also past my own understanding of relationships. It was thrilling. I got that twisted feeling you get deep inside when you are being moved by something….and the opening notes of the song still do it for me every time. While I deeply ached to be old enough to be that woman, I also instantly knew I would never be that woman. I would never find myself lonely and trapped. It is probably why I waited so late in life to marry (and predictably to a songwriter). In fact, I could still to this very day walk into that store 40 years later (now Macy’s) and stand in the exact spot where I was when that song came over the store’s speakers. I was sold on the Eagles. I was sold on music. In a way it cemented my future in this biz.
Was at just the right age in the 70’s to see every band that came anywhere near Louisville so was blessed to see them many times when they and I were still young and then again three times in the past 15 years where I swear they got better with each passing performance. So grateful that Glenn and the boys could still make my stomach tight and my eyes well up all these decades later and to remind me that that woman child was still inside. And to now know he was doing it while fighting an unforgiving illness?
Thank you Thank you Thank you Glenn for continuing to share your gift with all of us for so long. So generous!
I have contended for years (and taken much abuse) that NOBODY could sing live like the Eagles (and that includes you, CSN). Everybody hates on this song, but anyone who has or has imagined standing on a stage playing songs that you actually wrote without any auto-tune, just listen to what these guys could do: youtu.be/VUW_sGwMECc.
Sorry about Weiland, Bowie and Buffin, but losing Glenn Frey is like losing an intimate friend.
A number of icons (Nathalie Cole, Alan Rickman, David Bowie) passed in rapid tempo the past few weeks. We mourn them all, but when I heard the news about Glenn Frey, it was as if I was physically hit in the stomach.
You have said it exactly the way it is. Thanks for that.