Glenn Frey, founding member of the Eagles and lead singer and guitarist on many of their biggest hits, has died. A statement on the Eagles website says that Frey died earlier today in New York City after several weeks spent battling rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia. “The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery,” the statement reads. “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.” He was 67.
Born in Detroit, Frey played in bands throughout his teenage years before landing his first professional gig playing guitar and singing backup vocals on Bob Seger’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” in 1968. With Seger’s encouragement, a then 19-year-old Seger moved to Los Angeles shortly thereafter to pursue a music career. There, he met drummer Don Henley, and the two toured with Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon playing backup for Linda Ronstadt on her 1970 tour. After the tour ended, the foursome began playing together as the Eagles, and by the mid-’70s the group had become a staple of commercial radio and one of the biggest-selling acts in the world. (The group’s 1976 greatest hits collection Their Greatest Hits is still one of only two albums—the other is Michael Jackson’s Thriller—certified 29 times platinum by the RIAA.)
Sharing principal songwriting duties with Henley, Frey played guitar and sang lead vocals on many of the Eagles’ greatest hits, mellow California soft-rock classics such as “Take It Easy,” “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Already Gone,” “Tequila Sunrise,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” and “Heartache Tonight.”
After the Eagles broke up in 1980, Frey pursued a solo career, both as an actor and as a musician. Both of those avenues led him to cop stories, and Frey topped the charts with songs from both the Beverly Hills Cop (“The Heat Is On”) and Miami Vice (“You Belong To The City”) soundtracks. Frey also guest starred on an episode of Miami Vice in its first season in a role inspired by his song “Smuggler’s Blues,” which he also contributed to the show’s soundtrack.
Over the course of his solo career, Frey had a total of 12 songs chart on the U.S. Top 100, several of which were from movies. (Besides Miami Vice and Beverly Hills Cop, Frey contributed original songs to the Ghostbusters II and Thelma And Louise soundtracks.) The Eagles re-formed in 1994 for a new album and tour, both called Hell Freezes Over; Frey would continue to record and tour periodically with the group throughout the next few decades, while still pursuing his solo career and the occasional acting gig.
In a statement printed in The Hollywood Reporter, Frey’s longtime bandmate Henley says that the Eagles finished what will ultimately be their last tour, the two-year ”History Of the Eagles Tour,” in July. He adds, “crossing paths with Glenn Lewis 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. It will be very strange going forward in a world without him in it. But, I will be grateful, every day, that he was in my life.” Frey is survived by his wife Cindy, whom he married in 1990, and their three children.