Most music fans know that the character Russell Hammond, lead guitarist of the fictional band Stillwater from Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiographical film Almost Famous, was inspired by Eagles founder and front man Glenn Frey, who died earlier this week. Crowe first met Frey backstage at a 1972 show in San Diego while he was a 16-year old aspiring rock music writer freelancing for Rolling Stone. From that initial encounter, the two sparked a friendship that continued for decades.
Crowe’s byline recently returned to Rolling Stone to offer a touching tribute to the individual he both covered as a subject and cast as an actor through the years. “It was easy to share your personal stuff with Glenn,” he wrote. “He’d help you plot out the answers to your problems like a seasoned coach. He once laid out the psychology of getting and maintaining a buzz at a party. (‘Two beers back to back, then one every hour and 15 minutes… You’ll be loquacious, and all the girls will talk with you.’)”
In addition to writing about Frey’s ambition and his drive to succeed, Crowe touched on his penchant for handing out nicknames:
I was “Get Down Clown.” And Glenn, who along with Henley made a regular habit of charming the ladies with gallant good manners, was “the Teen King.” Because of his ability with charting Eagles harmonies, he was also “the Lone Arranger,” and once, because he’d collected a small garbage bin filled with weed in his backyard, he was “Roach.” Don Felder, his guitarist, was “Fingers.”
Crowe also revealed that after casting Frey as the Arizona Cardinals General Manager in the film Jerry Maguire in 1996, he had plans to use him again as an actor for his upcoming new television series Roadies. “I was set on hiring Glenn to play the band’s skilled but flighty manager, Preston,” Crowe said. “The word that came back was upsetting. Frey was in tough shape, hospitalized but fighting. I tried not to worry too much. Glenn Frey is, and always was, built for the fourth-quarter win.”
You can read the whole thing over at Rolling Stone.