Friday, January 29, 2016

Glenn Frey tribute by CCC guest columnist David Hudson

Here's a tribute to the late Glenn Frey, co-founder of the Eagles who will be remembered as one-half of one of the greatest songwriting duos in the history. I was as shocked as other classic-rock fans to hear about his passing Jan. 18, 2016.

As much I love the Eagles (they are after all, one of my top three bands — KISS and The Beatles, being the others), I couldn't do justice to paying tribute to Frey like one of my best friends, David Hudson, a diehard Eagles fan if there ever was one! So I requested he write one — and luckily for me and my readers, he made the time to do it. 

Enjoy this touching tribute by David about one of his musical heroes. ...

I have been called the world’s biggest Eagles fan by my friends and family.

Yours truly takes a selfie with David Hudson (right), who
wrote this tribute to the late Glenn Frey at my request.
I was shocked when I heard the news that Glenn Frey had passed away last Monday from a friend. The e-mails and instant messages from friends came quickly after that first notification. They wanted to see how I was doing.

It was difficult in collecting my thoughts because Glenn Frey and his music with the Eagles, and his solo work, have had a huge role in my life. However, I never had the pleasure of meeting him and I never had the opportunity to thank him for what his music had done for me.

I can’t remember when I first heard or fell in love with the Eagles.

I grew up in the Seventies and Eighties. My mother was a piano teacher and a church pianist. Our house was surrounded with great music ranging from pop/rock music that my mother loved. I can still hear the sounds of Elvis Presley, the Beatles, the Beach Boys, Simon and Garfunkel, and of course the Eagles playing from the record player in our living room.

Gospel music was a big part of our lives because my mother and her parents performed gospel music. An essential element to gospel music is vocal harmony and I gained lifelong love an appreciation of harmony before I was five years old. My father loved the country music of George Jones, Merle Haggard, and the Statler Brothers.

To say that all genres of music were present in my childhood is an understatement. The one unifying artist that all of my family could agree on is that they liked the Eagles!

This has led me to think about the loss of the front man and leader of my favorite group.

Why did I love the Eagles? Was it the great songwriting of Don Henley and Glenn Frey which was only matched by John Lennon and Paul McCartney? Was it the amazing vocal harmonies that reminded me of the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the Statler Brothers? Was it great instrumental prowess? Was it a musical catalog that encompasses bluegrass ("Midnight Flyer"), classical ("Wasted Time Reprise"), country ("Doolin-Dalton"), folk ("Peaceful Easy Feeling"), gospel (the Sad Café), Mexican ("Hotel California"), rock ("Life in the Fast Lane"), disco/soul ("One of These Nights") and western ("Desperado")?

The answer to all of these questions is yes.

The Eagles simply embodied everything I loved in music – great songwriting, great vocals and musicianship all rolled into one. They were what you get if you took the Beatles' singing and songwriting and combined it with the Beach Boys' vocal harmonies and threw in the Allman Brothers' diversity and musicianship.

The late Glenn Frey sings March 20, 2010 in Phoenix.
When I think of Glenn Frey. I will always have memories of cruising down the road listening to his great songs that have been the soundtrack to my life. They helped me through times of great joy and sorrow.

Depending upon the song, they made me think about social issues or let my hair down and have fun. I was fortunate enough to see the Eagles in concert twice: once in Richmond, VA and once in Greensboro, NC.

The latter was one of Glenn’s last concerts and he was in great form. He sang, played the guitar and played the piano great. They are two of the happiest days of my life and I will never forget those concerts.

One of the underappreciated parts of Glenn’s career was his solo career. He never has received the same recognition that his bandmates Don Henley and Joe Walsh received for their solo work, but it is worth spending the money and taking the time to buy the albums or CDs.

I respect the fact that Glenn had a very different sound for his solo work than he did with the Eagles. The genres he explored were diverse – the blue eyed soul of "The One You Love" – the blues mixed with social commentary of "Smugglers Blue"s – the modern jazz of "You Belong to the City" – the Memphis R&B tribute to Al Green that was "True Love" – the social commentary in "I’ve Got Mine" and "Love in the 21st Century" – the classic beauty of "Lover’s Moon" (which always reminds me of Henry Mancini’s music from "Breakfast at Tiffany’s") – to the pure fun of "The Heat Is On."

When Glenn revisited the Eagles’ sound it was in the vastly underappreciated song "Part of Me, Part of You."

Don Henley (left) shares a laugh with Eagles bandmate Glenn Frey.
He is one of the few artists that I have ever heard who played so many instruments on his songs – rhythm guitar, lead guitar, slide guitar, piano, bass, drums, harmonica, and even a little sax on "Funky New Year" – but he could also sing all of the vocal parts – tenor, lead and baritone.

I read where Vince Gill praised the quality of his guitar playing. Bob Seger mentioned that Glenn was a classically trained pianist as a child.

I can testify to the subtleties of his piano playing. The last piano lessons that I received from my mother, before she passed away from cancer, involved learning the piano introduction to "Desperado." What a beautiful piano piece! It challenged me for weeks even after years of lessons.

I want to give my heartfelt condolences to all of Glenn’s friends who loved him especially Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Timothy B Schmitt, Bernie Leadon, Irving Azoff, Jackson Browne, J.D. Souther, and Linda Ronstadt. I would also like to give my condolences to his children – Taylor Frey, Deacon Frey, and Otis Frey – and his wife Cindy Frey.

Finally, I would like to thank Glenn Frey. Thank you for being such a big part of my life. Your music has given me comfort, joy, and peace throughout my life. Your music allowed me to bond with friends and family. It helped me through difficult times. Thank you for sharing your gifts as a guitarist, pianist, vocalist, and songwriter with the world.

You were one of my heroes and inspirations. You truly made this place a better and happier world to live in.

God bless you and may you rest in peace.

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