To say that 2016 has been a rough year for musicians thus far would be an understatement. First David Bowie passed away at 69 of cancer. And this week, Glenn Frey, a founding member of the Eagles, died at 67 of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia.
Frey was a key member of the band as he wrote and sang some of their most beloved songs. He took lead vocals on such chestnuts as "Take It Easy," "Peaceful Easy Feeling," "Tequila Sunrise," "Already Gone," "Lyin' Eyes," "New Kid in Town" and "Heartache Tonight."
The country community has weighed in. Travis Tritt tweeted, "I'm so shocked and saddened to learn that Glenn Frey has died. He was always so nice to me. This is devastating!"
Tim McGraw said he found Frey's "music was personally inspirational, his impact immeasurable, his legacy timeless."
Martina McBride tweeted, "Sad to hear about Glenn Frey. First album I owned was Eagles Greatest Hits and I wore it out. The Eagles were such a part of all our lives."
And from Brad Paisley, "So saddened and shocked by the loss of Glenn Frey. Thank you for the music that paved the way for so many others."
Interestingly, the Eagles was not a country band or considered such until much later in the band's history. They were part of the California, soft rock movement that also included Jackson Browne and Linda Ronstadt.
Yes, they made the country charts a few times, but it wasn't until "Lyin' Eyes" in 1975 from the fourth album, "One of These Nights," that the Eagles even hit the country charts, reaching number 8. Only six songs from the band have ever reached the country charts.
By my thinking, the Eagles only entered the country realm with "Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles," the 1993 tribute disc that went all the way to number one on the country charts. No singles were big hits, but Tritt's "Take It Easy" was the biggest. The disc received a chunk of play and brought the band to the country market.
The next we heard from the Eagles was 2007's "Long Road Out of Eden," which topped the country charts with a few singles making it into the 20s.
In retrospect, the band squarely fits with what is considered country music today, and Frey, of course, was part and parcel of that sound. Every song listed above would easily be classified as country today. The instrumentation fits and so do the vocals. Listening again makes that clear.
Chances are that Frey wasn't thinking so much about being a country artist, but he left his mark on the genre anyway. Funny how time changes everything. Frey will be missed.