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Royal Oak native and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey dies

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Glenn Frey was a Royal Oak native and Detroit rocker who went west as a young man to find fame with the Eagles,

He flew high, both with the band -- playing a key role in establishing the genres of country-rock and California rock during the 70s -- and occasionally on his own. But the flight ended on Monday, Jan. 18, when Frey died at the age of 67 in New York.

A message on the Eagles' web site said that Frey "succumbed to complications from Rehumatoid Arthritis, Acute Ulcerative Colitis and Pneumonia." Frey had surgery last fall after the Eagles finished their History of the Eagles Tour, and the group postponed receiving a Kennedy Center Honor in December because Frey would be unable to attend the ceremony.

The group's statement added that, "Words can neither describe our sorry, nor our love and respect for all that (Frey) has given to us, his family, the music community & millions of fans worldwide." It was signed by his family, members of the Eagles and band manager Irving Azoff and accompanied by the lyrics to "It's Your World Now," from the Eagles last album, 2007's "Long Road Out of Eden."

Bob Seger, a friend of Frey's for 50 years, said he was "devestated" by the news. "I always kind of thought of him as my baby brother a little bit," said Seger, who's three years Frey's senior. They met after Seger wrote a song called "Such a Lovely Child" for Frey's band the Mushrooms and also used Frey to sing backup on his 1969 hit "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man."

"I just knew right away he had somethign special," Seger said. "He had drive, an imagination and a talent that was just titanic. I'll miss him like crazy."

Eagles co-founder Don Henley, who met Frey when both played in Linda Ronstadt's band after moving to Los Angeles, issued his own statement saying that Frey "was like a brother to me; we were family...He was funny, bullheaded, mercurial, generous, deeply talented and driven...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 was born Nov. 6, 1948 and raised in Royal Oak, where he graduated from Dondero High School. "The radio was on all the time in my house, and I hear everything," Frey recalled in a 2012 interview. "And when rock 'n' roll came out, I was hooked. I knew that's what I wanted to do." He played in local bands such as the Subterraneans, the Four of Us, the Mushrooms and the Heavy Metal Kids.

Frey moved to Los Angeles shortly thereafter, first meeting songwriters JD Souther, a collaborator on several Eagles hits with whom he formed the band Longbranch Pennywhistle, and Jackson Browne. He and Henley, along with original Eagles Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner, began playing with Ronstadt in 1971, going out on their own after touring with her that year. "Those guys had so much talent and so much ambition," Ronstadt remembered. "Glenn had all this drive -- they all did, really. I encouraged them. I knew they'd be great.

Henley, in his statement, noted that "Glenn was the one who started it all. He was the spark plug, the man with the plan. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that just wouldn't quit." Over its 44 years -- with a 14-year break between 1980-94 -- the Eagles have sold more than 150 million records with enduring hits such as "Take It Easy," "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "One of these Nights," "Take It to the Limit," "Hotel California," "Life in the Fast Lane and Many Others." "Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975)" was the best-selling album in the U.S. during thee 20th century.

The Eagles also won six Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The team of Frey and Henley were also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

On his own Frey released six solo albums, the most recent being 2012's "After Hours," and has solo hits with "The Heat is On" for the film "Beverly Hills Cop" and "Smuggler's Blues" and "You Belong to the City" for TV's "Miami Vice." Frey also guested in the "Smuggler's Blues" episode of "Miami Vice" in 1985 and appeared on "Wiseguy," "Nash Bridges," "Arli$$" and "Jerry McGuire." He had starring roles in the short-lived TV series "South of Sunset" and the 1986 film "Let's Get Harry."

Before the History of the Eagles Tour, Frey talked about being "three-quarters finished" with a solo album of original material, and he had also taken the lead in developing an Eagles musical for Broadway. "We're very fortunate," Frey said. "We use the Eagles as the mothership and then we go out and do individual stuff, whether it's acting or environmental work or solo shows, then we come back to the Eagles and it's fresh again, so we've been able to strike a good balance between personal life, personal career and Eagles business.

"It took a long time to get that balance right, but I'm happy we did."

Frey is survived by his father, Ernie, his second wife, Cindy, and children Taylor, Deacon and Otis. Funeral and memorial plans have not yet been announced.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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