November 6, 1948 - January 18, 2016
After the Eagles hit it big in the '70s, Frey lived life in the fast lane, but he took up a fitness habit in the late '80s and got himself in serious shape. He became a pitchman for Jack LaLanne fitness centers and appeared in a print ad showing before and after photos, with the before labeled "Hard Rock" and the after "Rock Hard."
He got into the music business to get girls and make money. Once those goals were met, he turned to more virtuous pursuits. "That's what it was for everybody," he said about his initial motives. "Then you become a serious artist and set out to change the world."
A formative event for Frey was attending a Beatles concert in the mid-'60s (his aunt brought him to the show). This made him want to become a musician.
Frey was raised in the Detroit area and played in local bands before heading to Los Angeles in 1968. In Detroit, he fell in with Bob Seger, who became a mentor. Frey can be heard on backing vocals and acoustic guitar on Seger's first hit, "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
In the late '60s, California had quite an allure, especially to a kid from Michigan with dreams of becoming a rock star. Frey read stories about the vibrant music scene and the freewheeling culture, and he wanted in. He headed west and hooked up with J.D. Souther
, forming a duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle. This led to a gig backing Linda Ronstadt, where he met Don Henley, with whom he formed the Eagles.
He became good friends with Jackson Browne when he moved to LA. Browne tried to get him a solo deal with his label, Asylum Records, but Asylum didn't want him. They did tell him that if he got a band together, they might be interested. Frey did, and that band - the Eagles - signed with Asylum.
Working on Eagles albums, Frey showed a nearly obsessive focus in the studio, as did his main creative partner in the group, Don Henley. Their determination led to many classic recordings, but it took a toll on the group, as the process was quite laborious and could get a bit insular as Frey and Henley took control.
Frey had a modest acting career, guest starring on an episode of Miami Vice and appearing in seven episodes of the 1989 series Wiseguy. In 1993, he had a lead role in a CBS series called South of Sunset, which might hold the record for quickest cancellation: it was pulled after one episode.