“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our comrade, Eagles founder, Glenn Frey, in New York City on Monday, January 18th, 2016,” the band said in a statement. “Glenn fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks but, sadly, succumbed to complications from Rheumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia. The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery. Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community & millions of fans worldwide.”
Frey wrote and provided vocals for many of the Eagles’ biggest hits hits, including “Heartache Tonight,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Tequila Sunrise” and “Take It Easy.”
The musician, with Don Henley, also co-wrote “Hotel California” and “Desperado.” The Eagles won six Grammys and five American Music Awards during its run, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998. Though the Eagles were scheduled to be feted at last December’s Kennedy Center Honors, the band postponed on account of Frey’s health.
Henley praised Frey in a statement, writing: “He was like a brother to me; we were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction. But, the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved. We were two young men who made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles with the same dream: to make our mark in the music industry — and with perseverance, a deep love of music, our alliance with other great musicians and our manager, Irving Azoff, we built something that has lasted longer than anyone could have dreamed.
“But, Glenn was the one who started it all. He was the spark plug, the man with the plan. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that wouldn’t quit. He was funny, bullheaded, mercurial, generous, deeply talented and driven. He loved his wife and kids more than anything.”
A Detroit native, the teenage Frey played in a plethora of rock bands throughout the 1960s, though his fortunes hit a steady upward trajectory when he moved to Los Angeles, becoming an integral part of the Laurel Canyon folk-rock scene alongside neighbors Jackson Browne and J.D. Souther.
After meeting drummer Henley in 1970, Frey formed country-rock outfit the Eagles, which quickly become giants of the ‘70s rock world and one of the best-selling artists of all time. Co-writing with Browne, Frey’s “Take It Easy” hit No. 12 on the singles chart, followed by the successes of “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and “Witchy Woman,” all from the band’s self-titled 1972 debut. Subsequent years saw the group notch radio hits with “Tequila Sunrise” and “Already Gone,” both of which featured Frey on lead vocals.
Moving away from country-rock toward a more mainstream sound, the Eagles went on a remarkable run through the latter half of the decade, notching five No. 1 singles (“Best of My Love,” “New Kid in Town,” “One of Those Nights,” “Heartache Tonight” and the all-conquering “Hotel California”) and three No. 1 studio albums from 1974 through ’79. The group’s 1976 collection, “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975),” stood for many years as the best-selling album of all time; according to the RIAA, its 29x Platinum certification is now second only to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”
Despite some lineup changes — with Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner giving way to Don Felder and Timothy B. Schmit, respectively, while guitarist Joe Walsh provided some x-factor energy starting in 1975 — Frey and Henley lead the band and served as primary songwriters throughout their run.
After an acrimonious breakup in 1980, Frey and Walsh both launched successful solo careers. Frey’s solo debut, 1982’s “No Fun Aloud,” contained such Top 40 hits as “The One You Love” and “I Found Somebody, ” while subsequent years would see him claim a pair of No. 2 hits in “The Heat Is On” and “You Belong to the City.” He pursued an acting career as well, landing a role in the first season of “Miami Vice.”
Despite Henley’s famous claim that the Eagles would reunite “when hell freezes over,” the group reconciled in 1994 for the first of many hugely lucrative tours, releasing the appropriately titled live album “Hell Freezes Over,” which has since been certified 9x Platinum. 2007 saw the group release their first new studio album since the ’70s, “Long Road Out of Eden,” which debuted at the top of the album chart.