Glenn Frey’s Rock and Roll Fantasy was a Real Ride
The Eagles were hands down one of the best rock bands this country has ever seen.
From sales to performance to the material they created, they stood atop the rock world for the entire 1970's, and for most of the time up there, they deserved it.
Glenn Frey was in the nucleus of the band. He was the neutron to Don Henley's proton. The rest of the revolving cast of the Eagles? Electrons. Needed, but outside the core.
Glenn Frey died yesterday. You probably know this. This is not a news story. This is a tribute.
If there was any knock on the Eagles, it was that they became almost too good. They were the tightest, hottest, most successful group of troubadours the world had seen since the Beatles. They outsell the Fab Four to this day.
The Eagles Greatest Hits 1971-75 is still second best selling album of all time, behind only Michael Jackson's Thriller. Some rank it in a different category, because it's a compilation, not a release of all original material to that record, but nevermind. I was weaned on that record. There isn't a bad song on it.
Their songs are so hooky, so melodic, with such great subject material that they might be stuck in your head for a few decades. Or more.
Glenn Frey was an all time great.
Most of us first heard him singing backup on an early track by a gravel voiced spark plug named Bob Seger that barely anyone knew when they laid it down in 1968.
He soon moved to southern California and found sunny beaches, beautiful women, a thriving music scene and Don Henley.
SFX - Take It Easy
The two became an instant duo, fast friends. Of his time in the Eagles, Frey is appreciative. To see his thoughts on it, watch The History of the Eagles. The film shows Glenn Frey, honest, frank, hilarious and telling all the stories of his part in one of the biggest bands in history.
"90% of the time, being in the Eagles was a f****** blast. I was living the dream."
"Everybody was really happy. Then..."
Glenn and Don first played together in Linda Rondstadt's band, and quickly realized they had a bigger desire to play together rather than play in her backing band, even though Linda was launching onto a national stage.
She did help the Eagles early success because she not only was supportive of them forming their own band, and suggested Bernie Leadon as a band member, but she also sang, recorded and made Desperado more famous than they did in the early days.
So, after finding their first bass player (Randy Meisner) and signing to David Geffen's Asylum Records, they were shipped off to Aspen, Colorado, to hone their chops, find their rhythm, rehearse and practice.
It wasn't long before they started producing hit records. They never stopped until a spectacular implosion left the world wondering what really happened when the Eagles broke up.
The band said they'd get back together. After hell freezes over.
Hell did freeze over, but I was never a big fan of the 90's or later Eagles.
The magic of the band, for me, came from 70's lineups. The Eagles went on one of those rare stretches where a group takes off with a song like Take it Easy, and keeps going through catalogues of hits that climax at Hotel California. The former song is a great hit. The latter is legend. I've been in conversations about the meaning of Hotel California that have lasted longer than the party where the musings took place.
Most big groups build through a few small records, release two to three that become successful, and ride the wave of one to four hits their entire career. The Eagles transcended that before they broke up.
Then, their airplay, and sales, never stopped. They became a staple on classic rock radio in 1980, and still are.
Since they started in the 1970's, the number of Eagles fans has always grown, not shrunk. That's so rare.
And that's because of Glenn Frey. David Geffen said he signed them because he knew that Glenn was going somewhere. He believed in Don Henley's ability and character, but he loved Frey's ambition.
I like Glenn's other songs, the one's he made after the Eagles. I loved him in Miami Vice.
But when I look back over a career like his, I know I'll always remember the biggest hits. The knockout punches. The peaks. The heights. And there aren't many people who have seen the heights that Glenn Frey has.
Thanks for all the great music, Glenn!