Tuesday 6 December 2016

Eagles singer and guitarist Glenn Frey dies aged 67

Published 19/01/2016 | 04:41

Glenn Frey performing Belfast in 2009 - the Eagles guitarist has died aged 67 (AP)
Glenn Frey performing Belfast in 2009 - the Eagles guitarist has died aged 67 (AP)

Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey, who with Don Henley became one of history's most successful songwriting teams with such hits as Hotel California and Life In The Fast Lane, has died.

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Frey, 67, died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia on Monday in New York, after fighting the ailments for several weeks.

"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," a statement on the band's website said.

Frey's health problems, including diverticulitis, dated to the 1980s. He blamed in part his years of "burgers and beer and blow and broads" and later became a fitness advocate.

Guitarist Frey and drummer Henley formed the Eagles in Los Angeles in the early 1970s, along with guitarist Bernie Leadon and bassist Randy Meisner.

They embodied for many listeners the melodic Los Angeles sound despite having no native Californians in the group. Critics often dismissed them as slick and unadventurous, but their blend of mellow ballads and macho rockers gave them broad appeal.

An Eagles greatest-hits collection and Hotel California, both released in the 1970s, have sold more than 20 million copies each and are among the best-selling albums of modern times. The band's total album sales top 100 million.

The Eagles' many hit singles include The Best Of My Love, Desperado and One Of These Nights. The impulsive Frey and the more cerebral Henley shared songwriting and singing duties, with Frey's drawling tenor featured on Heartache Tonight, Already Gone and the group's breakthrough hit, Take It Easy.

Henley said crossing paths with 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".

Their popularity outlasted their breakup in 1980 and the 14-year hiatus that followed. Their records remained consistent sellers, and they were a successful touring act over the last 20 years even though Frey and Henley were the only remaining original members.

They were joined on stage by guitarist Joe Walsh, who replaced Leadon in the mid-1970s, and bassist Timothy B Schmit, who stepped in after Meisner quit in 1977. Guitarist Don Felder was added in 1974 but was fired in 2001 amid disputes over money.

Frey had success as a solo artist, with songs including The One You Love and You Belong To The City, and careers in films and television. He appeared on episodes of Miami Vice and Nash Bridges, both featuring his friend Don Johnson, and appeared in the film Jerry McGuire, directed by Cameron Crowe, who befriended him after he interviewed the Eagles for Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s.

The Heat Is On was a hit from the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack, and Smuggler's Blues inspired a Miami Vice episode.

Frey, known for his oversized jaw, big grin and wavy dark hair, loved music, girls and the rock 'n' roll life. He was playing in bands as a teenager, with fellow Detroit musician Bob Seger among his early friends, and met Henley, Meisner and Leadon while they were all trying to make it in the LA music scene. For a time the four backed Linda Ronstadt.

The bandmates harmonised memorably on stage and on record but fought often otherwise. The group's initial breakup in 1980 happened after Felder and Frey nearly came to blows after a concert in California.

Frey and Henley also became estranged for years, their breach a key reason the band stayed apart in the 1980s. Henley had vowed the Eagles would reunite only when "hell freezes over," which became the name of the 1994 album they had never imagined making.

Press Association

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