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Glenn Frey Dead at Age 67

Neilson Barnard, Getty Images
Neilson Barnard, Getty Images

Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey has died today (Jan. 18). He was 67.

The band posted a statement on its Facebook page, listing “complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia” as the causes of death. Frey had disclosed the problems back in November, when the band were forced to pull out of attending the Kennedy Center Honors ceremony because he required major surgery.

Frey’s longtime Eagles collaborator Don Henley issued a statement to Billboard, crediting his friend as “the one who started it all” for the band and saying, “I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet.”

Born on Nov. 6, 1948, Frey began playing in bands in his native Detroit in the mid-’60s. Shortly thereafter, he moved to Los Angeles in the late-’60s, when he met J.D. Souther and Jackson Browne. When Souther’s then-girlfriend, Linda Ronstadt, needed a new backup band, she hired Frey, drummer Henley, bassist Randy Meisner and guitarist Bernie Leadon. The chemistry was so good that, after their 1971 tour, the four of them broke out from under Ronstadt and called themselves the Eagles.

The band were successful from the get-go. Their first single, the Frey-Browne co-write “Take It Easy,” reached No. 12 and set the template for the band mix of country-rock with pitch-perfect harmonies. Frey’s smooth voice contrasted perfectly with Henley’s rasp, giving them the same vocal blend that made the Beatles so successful.

From 1972 to 1979, they released six albums and had 16 Top 40 hits. In addition to “Take It Easy,” Frey sang lead on “Peaceful Easy Feeling”, “Already Gone”, “Lyin’ Eyes”, “New Kid in Town” and “Heartache Tonight.” But by 1980, personality conflicts broke up the band.

Frey moved on to a solo career in the ’80s, which resulted in two No. 2 hits, “The Heat Is On” and “You Belong to the City,” as well as Top 20 placements for “The One You Love,” “Sexy Girl,” “Smuggler’s Blues” and “True Love.” He also tried his hand at acting, with bit roles on Miami Vice (on which “You Belong to the City” and “Smuggler’s Blues” appeared), Nash Bridges and the film Jerry Maguire.

By 1993, the wounds from the Eagles’ breakup had healed long enough for them to appear in a video for country star Travis Tritt‘s cover of “Take It Easy.” Six months later, they reunited to record an MTV special, which resulted in the Hell Freezes Over album and tour. From that point on, the Eagles toured fairly regularly, with their only new material being 2007’s Long Road Out of Eden.

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