By Hillel Italie, AP
NEW YORK–Glenn Frey, a rock ‘n’ roll rebel from Detroit who journeyed West, co-founded the Eagles and with Don Henley formed one of history’s most successful songwriting teams with such hits as “Hotel California” and “Life in the Fast Lane,” has died.
Frey, 67, died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia, the band said on its website. He died Monday in New York. He had fought the ailments for the past several weeks, the band said.
“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 would blame 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, and of pop and folk and country, 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 copies.
The Eagles’ many hit singles include “The Best of My Love,” “Desperado,” “One of These Nights” and “The Long Run.” 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 well outlasted their breakup in 1980 and the 14-year hiatus that followed. Their records remained consistent sellers, and they were a top 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.
The band was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998 and was supposed to have been honored at the Kennedy Center last month, but the appearance was postponed because of Frey’s health. Its six Grammys include Record of the Year for “Hotel California” and best country performance by a vocal duo or group for “How Long,” from the 2007 album “Long Road Out of Eden,” another No. 1 seller.