Glenn Frey’s death could have grounded Eagles for good.
Now one of his offspring is helping the group fly once again.
Eagles seemed to be calling it quits after Royal Oak native Frey died Jan. 18, 2016, at age 67, from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia. The surviving group members, joined by Jackson Browne, paid tribute to him at that year’s Grammy Awards, and Walsh called the group’s Kennedy Center Honors presentation in December “a lovely ending.”
But now there’s a new kid — kids, actually — in town, giving new life to a legacy that includes a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, sales of more than 150 million albums worldwide and one title, “Their Greatest Hits (1971-1975),” which was the top selling album in the U.S. during the 20th century.
With Frey’s son Deacon and country veteran Vince Gill in the ranks, Eagles played a pair of stadium concerts during July (with Bob Seger guesting on “Heartache Tonight,” which he co-wrote). The group subsequently added more dates, including a short tour this month that brings them back to Frey’s hometown for the first time since July 2015, and even ducked into the studio to record “Part of the Plan” for a new Dan Fogelberg tribute album.
“We spent a long time after Glenn passed in discussions, and we needed to put some time in there,” Walsh, 69, explains by phone. “But in the course of talking we started thinking about, ‘What if the Eagles were gonna continue?’ and what would that be, and gradually some clarity started to come in. Glenn’s son Deacon is a pretty good musician and ... that chemistry is there. Vince Gill has been a really good friend of the band for a long time, and he grew up listening to the Eagles.
“So we figured we would at least try it and see where it went and we worked on it and thought it through and we tried it out in Los Angeles and it was just magic. It really was. It was received wonderfully and the energy that we all have is very, very healing, so I think Glenn would be proud of this and we decided to do it some more.”
Walsh — who also launched a new charity VetsAid for military veterans and played on brother-in-law Ringo Starr’s new album “Give More Love” this year — particularly enjoys having Gill, another noted lead guitarist, in the group to joust with him and regular Eagles adjunct Steuart Smith.
“It’s terrifying. He’s that good,” Walsh says. “But he says I make him nervous, too, so it works really good. And, boy, he plugged right in with the vocals and so we’ve got a pretty good lineup across the front of the stage in terms of guitar players, and it’s working really, really well.”
Eagles will close its latest round of activity with a special SiriusXM concert on Oct. 29 at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, prior to launching an Eagles channel on the network.
Meanwhile, the stage musical based on the group’s “Hotel California” album that Frey was helming continues to develop, though Henley notes “that’s going to be a two- or three-year project.”
Mostly, however, the group is still in the baby steps phase according to Walsh.
“We’re not booking a huge tour and saying, ‘Hey, we’re back, and all that,” he says. “We’re very cautiously trying to get an environment where it will all work and people can come and we can play our music and continue to keep going. Based on Los Angeles we got a real nibble here, and so we’re just going to take it slow and make sure it’s the highest amount of quality and production, and that’s where we’re at with it at this point.”
• If You Go: Eagles perform at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at Little Caesars Arena, 2645 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $59.50-$229.50. Call 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.
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