Glenn Frey and the Art of Collaboration


Glenn Frey, who passed away January 18 at age 67, did not shine in the spotlight like David Bowie did. His solo career was somewhat successful and had its moments, notably with the 1980s hits “The Heat Is On” “Smuggler’s Blues,” and “You Belong to the City.” But he really excelled as a collaborator. As a founding member of the Eagles, Frey co-wrote and sang on songs that defined a generation, including “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Tequila Sunrise,” and “New Kid in Town.” He and Don Henley rank right up there among the great songwriting duos of rock. The Eagles could not have sold 150 million records without Glenn Frey.

As an ensemble member, Frey was often overlooked and underappreciated. Henley’s gritty singing style was more distinctive. Bernie Leadon, Don Felder, and Joe Walsh usually owned the spotlight as guitarists. But between his laid-back vocal style, gentle rhythm guitar playing, and narrative approach to songwriting, Glenn Frey deserves as much credit as anyone for shaping the mellow Southern California rock sound. And when the Eagles developed a harder edge to their music, Frey adapted while reminding the group that they were still a powerful force when writing ballads.

He made an impact with the Eagles from the start, co-writing (with Jackson Browne, a perennial friend of the group) and singing on “Take It Easy” on the band’s first album in 1972, a song that would reach Number 12 on the charts. He also sang brilliantly on “Peaceful, Easy Feeling.”

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