Frey then made his way to California, where he quickly became immersed in the burgeoning country-rock scene. He formed a duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle with another aspiring singer-songwriter named J.D. Souther, releasing one self-titled album in 1969 before they went their separate ways. Frey was then drafted by Linda Ronstadt to play in a new backing group that she envisioned as a group of Los Angeles country-rock “all-stars.”
That’s where he first met Don Henley, Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner; Henley had previously played drums in a group called Shiloh, which Kenny Rogers first discovered in Dallas and brought to Los Angeles to record, Meisner had played in Rick Nelson’s Stone Canyon Band, and Leadon had performed with the Flying Burrito Brothers. They ended up playing just one gig with Ronstadt before splitting off to form the Eagles, releasing their debut single, “Take It Easy,” in 1972.
The group became one of the biggest superstar acts of the 1970s, releasing a long string of classic hits including “Peaceful Easy Feeling,” “Best of My Love,” “One of These Nights,” “Lyin’ Eyes,” “Take It to the Limit,” “New Kid in Town,” “Hotel California,” “Heartache Tonight” and many more that defined an entire era of American music.
Frey went on to a successful solo career after the Eagles disbanded, placing solo hits including “The Heat Is On,” “You Belong to the City,” “Smuggler’s Blues” and more, and he also developed an acting career that included roles on Wiseguy, Miami Vice and the film Jerry Maguire. He reunited with the Eagles in 1994 and continued to tour with them until his death in 2016, which came about as a result of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia.