Glenn Frey, co-founder of the Eagles and the sweet-sounding voice behind “Take It Easy” and “New Kid in Town,” died Monday from complications from ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. He was 67.
Frey was in New York, dealing with the intestinal issues that had plagued him since the ‘80s and had worsened again in recent months.
“Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community and millions of fans worldwide,” the Eagles wrote in a statement on the band’s website.
Frey’s guitar work and part in the band’s trademark harmonies were essential to the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers’ classic sound, though he also had success as a solo artist in the ‘80s with the hit “The Heat Is On” and even did a bit of acting, appearing in “Miami Vice” and “Jerry Maguire” as well as starring in a 1993 CBS series “South of Sunset,” which was canceled after one episode.
Despite an occasionally stormy relationship, Frey and the Eagles were always strongest as a unit. The Eagles’ greatest hits album has sold 29 million copies, making it the second-best-selling album of all time, behind only Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” His live performance and onstage banter made the Eagles one of the music industry’s top touring acts ever, claiming the distinction in 1994 of being the first act to charge more than $100 per ticket.
“Glenn was the one who started it all,” Don Henley, who co-founded the Eagles with Frey, said in a statement. “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.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s intestinal issues, which Frey had attributed to the band’s hard-partying early days, had returned late last year, after the band’s successful “History of the Eagles” tour. The band was set to be honored by the Kennedy Center in December, but asked for their award to be deferred so that Frey could undergo surgery and participate in the event.
Frey told Billboard last year that he had enjoyed working on “The History of The Eagles” tour and reminiscing. “I was really surprised and reminded of how much fun we had,” he said. “You couldn’t have asked for a better script for a bunch of guys in their 20s trying to make it into the music business. We were young, we made mistakes, we still make mistakes. It’s the story of an American band, but it’s also the story of the songs we wrote and what those songs did to [people]. We’re here because everybody likes the songs.”