The Eagle who's happy to take it easy… Glenn Frey launches his first solo album in two decades
22:22 GMT, 26 July 2012
With the rush to salute hallowed veterans The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys, on their 50th anniversaries this year, another rock landmark has gone largely unnoticed.
And Glenn Frey, for one, is happy to keep it that way. It is now 40 years since he teamed up with fellow Americans Don Henley, Randy Meisner and Bernie Leadon to start work on the first Eagles album in London’s Olympic Studios.
‘Since we reformed in 1994, we’ve taken one year at a time. Ironically, we’re doing more next year, our 41st anniversary. The history of the band is coming out on DVD, and we have a few things in mind.’
History: The founding members of The Eagles standing on the edge of Topanga Canyon with Glenn Frey far right
Frey’s laid-back outlook is apt for an Eagle. With hits like Take It Easy and Peaceful Easy Feeling, the band were the kings of mellow West Coast rock.
At 63 the singer and guitarist is still busy, with his energies devoted to promoting After Hours, a collection of classic love songs and his first solo album in almost two decades.
The album is a surprising one: an affectionate tribute to the elegant panache of singers like Tony Bennett and Nat King Cole, it recasts country-rocker Frey as an assured crooner.
Glenn Frey performing in the group's first-ever concert in Moscow in 2001 – part of their first tour in five years
It is also diverse enough to feature big-band interpretations of rock numbers such as Brian Wilson’s Caroline No beside songbook staples such as The Shadow Of Your Smile.
It is a move Frey (pronounced Fry) has been contemplating for some time. But it took the intervention of friend Clint Eastwood to persuade him to unleash his inner crooner. He was playing in a pro-am golf tournament in 2002, and says: ‘Every year, they have a party to round off the tournament. Clint asked me to sing an Eagles song plus something from the Forties. That’s when I discovered I could sing Tony Bennett in the correct key.
‘Michael Bolton was watching and said I should make a record. We recorded a few tracks and ended up with an album. I’m happy I took on the challenge.’
All of this is a far cry from Frey’s early days in the Eagles. Having moved to Los Angeles from Detroit, he hooked up with the other three original band members, releasing their self-titled debut album in 1972. Worldwide success ensued, with the band selling 120 million albums before splitting.
When the end finally came, after a gig in California, in 1980, it did so with a major slanging match in the dressing room. ‘If you’re passionate about what you do, you’re going to have heated moments. And, in The Eagles, everyone was very passionate,’ he says.
Frey is now looking forward to taking his tuxedo and big band on tour. He has already played American dates with the New York University Symphony Orchestra and is hoping to schedule UK gigs, too.
Then there is the promised return of the Eagles. The band’s current incarnation — Frey, Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit — are gearing up for the release of next year’s big DVD. ‘We’ll definitely go back on the road,’ says Glenn. ‘We might do a chronological show, starting in the early Seventies, and go through our entire history.’
After Hours is out now on Polydor.