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Glenn Frey

Initially much more in line with his country-rock roots (but only just), the peaceful, easy-listening EAGLES singer-songwriter GLENN FREY was best-known for mid-80s film/TV theme work, `The Heat Is On’ (from Beverly Hills Cop) and `Smuggler’s Blues’ (from the “Miami Vice” series). Very much in parallel to EAGLES compadre, DON HENLEY, by way of style and soft-rock sound, vocalist/guitarist GLENN FREY capitalised on smooth production values and a new-found writing partnership alongside Jack Tempchin.
Born November 6, 1948 in Detroit, Michigan, his love of rock’n’roll, and, in turn, The BEATLES, led the teenage Glenn to abandon his several-years-standing as a pianist, to become a rebellious guitarist. From 1965 to ‘67, he was something of a pin-up as he strolled through various High School pop combos such as The Mushrooms, The Subterraneans and the Heavy Metal Kids. Regulars in local teen stamping ground, The Hideout, Glenn was also part of short-lived folk-rock covers act, The Four Of Us; unsure of the authenticity of their singles, `You’re Gonna Be Mine’ and The BYRDS’ `Feel A Whole Lot Better’, or for that matter, a solo 45 `Such A Lovely Child’ (for Hideout Records). BOB SEGER was already making inroads into his career, and in 1968, Glenn performed on his Capitol Records debut, “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”.
From his new base in California, FREY struck up a partnership with Detroit ex-pat, J.D. (John David) SOUTHER, and together they formed one-album, country-rock harmony duo, Longbranch Pennywhistle; their eponymous LP was released for Amos Records in ’69.
Sharing an apartment with fellow composers JACKSON BROWNE and the aforementioned SOUTHER helped Glenn no end in his quest to become a successful songcraftsman, while his first real break came in the early 70s as a member of LINDA RONSTADT’s backing band.
From these small acorns and his association with record mogul, David Geffen, plus RONSTADT cohorts, Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, a fresh-faced country act emerged – the EAGLES. From the opening lines of `Take It Easy’ (co-scribed by FREY and BROWNE), they seemed destined to make their way to the top of the tree. And the rest was history, as the Grammy award-winning act became a staple for AOR music around the globe.
Friction and eventual fall-outs led to the EAGLES taking off on solo ventures. FREY, meanwhile, still contracted to Asylum Records, delivered his first Top 40 album, NO FUN ALOUD (1982) {*5}, an easy-going set that found little sympathy outside the confines of homeland America; his version of Frankie Ford’s `Sea Cruise’ sat uneasily among the grooves of Top 40 hits, `I Found Someone’ and the equally schmaltzy `The One You Love’.
In 1984, FREY’s next Top 40 effort, THE ALLNIGHTER {*7}, prompted NBC TV to feature the sax-driven `Smuggler’s Blues’ and the man himself, on their “Miami Vice” police series. This gave him a cross-Atlantic Top 30 hit in ‘85, and was followed by another hit song from the series, `You Belong To The City’. Another anthemic near chart-topper, `The Heat Is On’, provided fans of Eddie Murphy (in his role in the attendant Beverly Hills Cop) with some soundtrack sustenance.
After a quiet few years in hiding, FREY returned to business with 1988’s SOUL SEARCHIN’ {*4} album – but this was no party; only the inconsequential (as one reviewer put it) `True Love’ made inroads into the Top 20. The slick STRANGE WEATHER (1992) {*5} – highlighting “Thelma And Louise” sound track, `Part Of Me, Part Of You’ – and the career-enhancing, LIVE (1993) {*6}, were forthcoming. The latter, Dublin-recorded record was bookended by EAGLES faves, `Peaceful Easy Feeling’ and `Desperado’ (`New Kid In Town’, `Heartache Tonight’ and a medley of `Lyin’ Eyes’ & `Take It Easy’ also on hand), while the singer got all contemplative on the folk staple, `Wild Mountain Thyme’.
The fact that all parties concerned were missing the EAGLES was plain to see, when the quintet (FREY, HENLEY, JOE WALSH, Tim Schmit and Don Felder) reunited for the chart-topping “Hell Freezes Over” set in 1994. Content with reaping the rewards from his EAGLES royalties (or so it seemed), co-founding his Mission imprint with attorney Peter Lopez and helping re-instate the EAGLES as No.1 country-act (through 2007’s “comeback” double-set, “Long Road Out Of Eden”), FREY was back in the fray with nostalgic, baby boomer album, AFTER HOURS (2012) {*5}. The American popular song was now back in full swing – and thankfully with ROD STEWART nowhere to be seen.
Sadly, after recuperating from surgery on his intestines, Glenn died of ulcerative colitis, pneumonia and rheumatoid arthritis on January 18, 2016.
© MC Strong 1994/GRD // rev-up MCS Oct2012-Jan2016

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