It is with a heavy heart I write this piece because Glenn Frey, founder and guitarist for the Eagles, has passed away. The Eagles don’t need much of an introduction. Formed in 1971 by Frey and drummer Don Henley, the Eagles are the highest-selling musical act in American history and fifth highest-selling in the world. They have sold over 150 million records worldwide and two of their albums, Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) and Hotel California, have sold over 42 million and 32 million records, respectively.
Frey also went on to a successful solo career largely in the 1980s after the Eagles had broken up in 1980. Frey also tried his hand at acting including on the popular 1980s police show, Miami Vice.
If you have listened to the radio at any point in the last 40 years, you have heard an Eagles song, whether you knew it or not. Rather than continuing on with facts that you can look up, I’d like to share my own experiences concerning the Eagles.
I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s listening to the Eagles as they are one of, if not, my father’s favorite band. Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975) and Hotel California were albums, yes vinyl albums, heavily in rotation in our house. I know every song and every lyric on those albums. Though it took me a while, I was finally able to figure out each band member’s name and why this particular band had multiple singers – the nasally Joe Walsh, the smooth Timothy B. Schmidt, the high pitched Randy Meisner, the soulful Glenn Frey, and the raspy Don Henley.
Spending time with my father usually consisted of working in the yard or sharing a love of cars, either by going to a car show or riding around town in his 1988 Isuzu Pup. Regardless, the radio was always going with the Eagles discography on in the form of a tape cassette. Soon, the Eagles were one of my favorite bands as well.
As I grew, my musical tastes changed and a love of hard rock and heavy metal developed but the Eagles never strayed from being one of my favorites. My friends were amazed that I could move from Megadeth and KISS to “Best of My Love” by the Eagles. Great music knows no bounds in my mind. And though not a country music fan, I am always ready for the country rock of the early Eagles albums. But my favorites were always the rock songs and Frey’s desire to take the band in that direction meshed with my personal tastes. I’d list my favorite Eagles songs but how do you list them all? The haunting “Hotel California,” the rocking “Victim of Love,” and Walsh’s masterful delivery on “Pretty Maids All in a Row” come to mind. Others include “Witchy Woman” and “Take it to the Limit.”
The Eagles in 1976 – L – R – Top – Don Henley, Glenn Frey – Bottom –
Don Felder, Joe Walsh, Randy Meisner
Once the Eagles got back together in 1994, I rushed out and saved up whatever money I had to buy Hell Freezes Over and I wasn’t disappointed. In 2008, the Eagles came to Hampton, Virginia, and I wanted to take my father. He had been a fan since the early 70s and had never seen them. I wanted to do something special for him for all he had done for me. I called him and told him if he could make it to Virginia I had tickets waiting to go. And he did and we went to the Hampton Coliseum and had an amazing time. Our seats were in the mezzanine section, right above the pit, and eye level with the stage. The concert was awesome – not only the songs and performance but sharing that moment with my father. My brothers told me he talked about it for months. I knew every word and sang it out loud, all those years of listening to those songs in the yard and that old Isuzu Pup had come in handy.
Myself and my father seeing the Eagles in 2015
In 2015, we once again had the chance to see the Eagles as they were on their worldwide History of the Eagles tour. I called up my father with the same offer. This time, we caught the band in Charlottesville, Virginia, on the campus of the University of Virginia. The concert was awesome and so was spending time with my father. I was one of the youngest people attending the concert, but just like in 2008, I sang each and every word of every song. I remember telling my father, “This might be the last time these guys tour.” And I was right as today, January 18, 2016, we lost another great musician as Glenn Frey passed away. This comes on the heels of Scott Weiland, Lemmy, Natalie Cole, and David Bowie passing.
Music is special. It knows no bounds, no generations, and has no expiration date. It brings us together and that’s exactly what this band did for my father and me – two individuals almost 40 years apart in age. Before getting ready for the concert last year, I told a colleague that this band had broken up before I was even born. I was not even alive when they were in their “prime.” But that didn’t matter because great music and songwriting knows no limits.
So I say thank you to Glen Frey and Don Henley for building the Eagles and thank you to each member for the many years of music you brought to us. You made a difference in my family’s life and have been the soundtrack to my entire life.