“Glenn fought a courageous battle for the past several weeks but, sadly, succumbed to complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia,” said a message signed by bandmates including Don Henley and Joe Walsh, as well as his family.
Henley, who had been a friend of and a collaborator with the Michigan native for more than four decades, also released a statement mourning the loss of the man who was “like a brother to me.”
“We were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction. But, the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved. We were two young men who made the pilgrimage to Los Angeles with the same dream.”
“Glenn was the one who started it all,” he also said. “He was the spark plug, the man with the plan. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that wouldn’t quit. He was funny, bullheaded, mercurial, generous, deeply talented and driven. He loved his wife and kids more than anything. We are all in a state of shock, disbelief and profound sorrow.”
The statement confirmed Frey died in New York City and ended with the lyrics to “It’s Your World Now,” which Frey co-wrote for the Eagles’ 2007 album, Long Road Out of Eden.
“The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery,” the statement also read. “Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community & millions of fans worldwide.”
Frey leaves behind his wife of 25 years, Cindy, and their three children: Taylor, Deacon and Otis.
Born in Detroit to a family that worked in the auto industry, Frey broke into the midwestern rock scene before moving to Los Angeles and befriending drummer Henley in 1970. Linda Ronstadt hired the pair as part of a backup band, inviting them to tour with her in 1971. The duo – along with Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon – then went on to form the Eagles.
Frey later penned a number of hits for the band (often in tandem with Henley), including “Take It Easy,” “Desperado,” “Tequila Sunrise” and “Hotel California.” He was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011. The group was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.
Although the Eagles went on to become one of the best-selling artists in history, the group was not without drama.
In 1980, the band broke up after Frey and Don Felder, who joined the band in 1974, publicly feuded during a concert in Long Beach, California. Frey later pursued a solo career that included performing the 1984 hit “The Heat Is On,” which was featured in Beverly Hills Cop.
The band reunited in 1990 and in 2013 a documentary about the band, History of the Eagles, debuted on Showtime.
“Let’s put it this way: I’m glad I’ve had a second chance,” Frey told The New York Times in 2013 of the band’s split and subsequent reunion. “We were young and I had a temper. I still have a temper. [laughs] I’ve just retired it.”
Henley, meanwhile, made it clear on Monday that his bond with Frey is eternal.
“I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet,” he said.
“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. Rest in peace, my brother. You did what you set out to do, and then some.”