Cannabis culture owes a debt of gratitude to Glenn Frey of The Eagles, not least for introducing colitas into the mainstream lexicon through “Hotel California,” where the warm smell of burning buds is “rising up through the air.”
Sadly, though, the world of rock and roll is once again in mourning with the passing of Glenn Frey, who died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and pneumonia at the age of 67.
As a founding member of The Eagles, Frey co-wrote hits including “One of These Nights,” “Lyin’ Eyes” and the band’s best-known song, “Hotel California.”
We remember Frey as a talented musician and songwriter who knew well the creative influence of cannabis.
But that love for herb struck a sour chord with long-time Eagles producer Glyn Johns, the man who helped craft and capture the band’s timeless country-rock sound.
By all accounts, Johns, known as a kind of a school-marm in the studios, led the Eagles by the nose through their first album, camp-counselor style.
Glenn Frey: “He’d say, ‘You’re a fine singer, a fine guitar player, a great asset to this band….’”
Don Henley: “‘But you’re being an asshole.’”
One of Johns’s strictest studio rules—absolutely no drugs—held fast.
“It really irritated him,” says Frey, “that Randy and I would sneak off and smoke weed.
He’d tell me, ‘You smoke grass and then you don’t say what’s on your mind when it comes to mind. Now it’s a week later and you’re talking about something that you should have ironed out seven days ago.
Maybe Johns had a point, but who could argue with Frey’s methods? The 1998 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee was guitarist for one of the most successful musical acts of the 1970s?
Together, Frey and the Eagles earned five number-one singles, six Grammy Awards, five American Music Awards, and put out no less than six number one albums.
As a solo artist, Frey continued releasing hits, including “The Heat Is On” (yes, from the “Beverley Hills Cop” soundtrack) and in 1984 “Smuggler’s Blues.”
“Smuggler’s Blues” reflects on the highs and lows of being a street dealer of everything from hash to cocaine, and it laments the futility of the War on Drugs.
Glenn may have checked out, but his memory will never leave.
Eagles co-founder Don Henley released this statement following Frey’s death:
“We are all in a state of shock, disbelief and profound sorrow. We brought our two-year ‘History of the Eagles Tour’ to a triumphant close at the end of July and now he is gone. I’m not sure I believe in fate, but I know that crossing paths with Glenn Lewis Frey in 1970 changed my life forever, and it eventually had an impact on the lives of millions of other people all over the planet. It will be very strange going forward in a world without him in it. But, I will be grateful, every day, that he was in my life.
“Rest in peace, my brother. You did what you set out to do, and then some.”