Remembering Glenn Frey

(left to right) SHOF Board Member Karen Sherry, Glenn Frey, SHOF Inductee Jimmy Webb, SHOF President & CEO Linda Moran and SHOF Board Member Robbin Ahrold
Photo by Chianan Yen, Courtesy NYU Steinhardt

The Songwriters Hall of Fame mourns the passing of 2000 Inductee Glenn Frey today.

Born in November, 1948, Frey first began putting out his music taproots in the glory days of Detroit rock in the mid-‘60s, with his first band, The Mushrooms. The group soon began appearing on the hot local TV show, Robin Seymour’s Swinging Time, and rapidly became a staple on the music menu of The Hideout, a favorite local teen hangout. The band’s first single record, released on the club’s own Hideout label, was produced by the young Bob Seger (2012 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductee) prior to his forming his own band. The single, “Such A Lovely Child,” achieved significant local airplay and sales.

Making a sudden and what was to become a major career-bending decision, to move West to California in the early ‘70s, he almost immediately hooked up with a fledgling label known as Amos Records, a label that at almost the same time was putting out a first album by a group from Texas, Shiloh, one of whose members was Don Henley. Frey and Henley became friends and musical partners, and found themselves working for a time with Linda Ronstadt, an Arizona expatriate who was also seeking her musical fortune in southern California. In the fall of 1971, Frey, with Henley, formed The Eagles, a band that would pioneer a new kind of mellow, harmonic California sound and genre, thanks not only to unique songwriting from both Frey and Henley, but also to the advent of rock without a hard edge, and a rock style that was to remain in the top ranks of contemporary music makers virtually as long as it wished. Frey assumed leading roles and songwriting credits on such legendary Eagles successes as “New Kid in Town,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” and lead vocals on “Take it Easy” (a song co-written with friend and 2007 SHOF Inductee Jackson Browne) and “Tequila Sunrise.”

During the ‘70s heyday of The Eagles, Frey also enjoyed a writing credit on a number of the group’s most memorable hits, including, “Best Of My Love,” “Desperado,” “Hotel California,” “I Can’t Tell You Why,” “Life in The Fastlane,” “One Of These Nights,” “Sexy Girl” and “The One You Love.”

When The Eagles disbanded in 1979 in the wake of the album The Long Run, Frey’s solo career took off. He recorded No Fun Aloud in 1982, which in turn spawned a pair of single hits “I Found Somebody” and “The One You Love.” Next came the album The Allnighter, which included what was to become yet another hit single “Smuggler’s Blues,” (later inspiring an episode of the hit television series, Miami Vice, in which Frey also guest-starred).

In 1985, he enjoyed particular success with his top 10 hit “The Heat is On,” from the soundtrack to the Eddie Murphy comedy Beverly Hills Cop. His next contribution to the Miami Vice soundtrack “You Belong To The City” also achieved blockbuster status, just missing the number one slot.

Inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2000 with Don Henley, Frey was a guest at the October, 2011 Songwriters Hall of Fame Master Session at NYU, during which he took the audience on a magical ride through his early days of collaborations with the likes of Jackson Browne, 2013 SHOF Inductee JD Souther and Don Henley, along with some of his other influences, one of whom was 1997 SHOF Inductee Joni Mitchell who, he said, taught him a “love of words.” Frey imparted key insights into his method of songwriting, at one point saying “don’t tell me how you feel, tell me a story.” He said one of the many ways he learned his craft was by dissecting other hits; taking songs apart to see how they were put together and what made them work.

Frey is survived by his wife Cindy, and three children, daughter Taylor and sons Deacon and Otis.