Glenn Frey, co-founder of the Eagles, was the greatest American rock 'n' roll star of his generation, perhaps of all time.
His distinctive voice, memorable songwriting, both with the Eagles and on his own, and supreme ability on the acoustic guitar and keyboards made him legendary.
Frey, 67, died Jan. 18 from "intestinal issues," which is how the band described his illness that forced cancellation of their December performance at the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors.
The news was shocking to most of his fans who were unaware that Frey (pronounced "Fry") had been so ill.
After hearing of Frey's death that day, I headed to the health club that evening with my 17-year-old son Michael, when I turned on the car radio and discovered a lengthy tribute to Frey on WONE 97.5-FM radio.
We never made it to the health club. Instead, we sat in the car in the parking lot and listened to Frey's hit songs for more than an hour. How could we turn off the radio?
I was fortunate to attend four Eagles concerts during their 1994-95 tour, driving to Cleveland, Columbus, Lexington, Ky., and Indianapolis.
The best concert I ever saw was the one in Columbus -- at Polaris Amphitheater -- with the terrific Eagles songs played amid wonderful acoustics.
Frey, often performing in a Hawaiian shirt, was the epitome of cool and had an amazing presence on stage.
Frey's contributions to the Eagles as a songwriter are unforgettable. Read the list, close your eyes and you can hear him singing "Take It Easy," "Already Gone," "New Kid in Town," "Tequila Sunrise," "Peaceful Easy Feeling" and "Lyin' Eyes." The list goes on and on.
+ + +
"Take it easy, take it easy.
"Don't let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy.
"Lighten up while you still can.
"Don't even try to understand.
"Just find a place to make your stand, and take it easy."
-- "Take It Easy," sung by Glenn Frey; written by Glenn Frey and Jackson Browne.
+ + +
I have listened frequently to Frey's classic songs for decades -- undoubtedly like countless fans of Frey and the Eagles.
Frey's music had a powerful effect on me. When I had household chores that I didn't feel like doing, his songs gave me energy.
When I hear his classic "Heartache Tonight," I often think of the time that I not only cleaned my entire kitchen but also -- while punching the air with my right fist at the end of the song -- put my hand through a glass light covering that hung from the ceiling, leaving me startled but uninjured.
Frey, Don Henley and the remainder of the Eagles notched their true greatness when their album, "The Eagles, Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975," which was released in 1976, became the top-selling album of the entire century.
Seemingly, most everything Frey touched turned to gold. During the band's 14-year break-up in the 1980s and early '90s, Frey continued to crank out classics like "The Heat is On" and "You Belong to the City" plus "Smuggler's Blues," a song that was featured on TV's highly rated "Miami Vice" when Frey made a guest appearance as a guitar-playing bush pilot in 1985.
Frey also gave a fine performance in the 1996 movie, "Jerry Maguire."
Frey appeared as the Arizona Cardinals general manager who ultimately decided whether to "show the money" to one of his football players, played by Cuba Gooding Jr., after season-long negotiations with the player's agent Jerry Maguire, played by Tom Cruise.
The Eagles got back together in 1994. Frey's final appearance with the band was on July 29, 2015 in Louisiana.
I had hoped to attend one more Eagles concert and see the great Glenn Frey one more time. Now, I'll have to be content with my memories of a once-in-a-lifetime performer.
Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187
Twitter: Mike Lesko@MikeLesko_RPC