The Grammy Awards will face challenges paying tribute to the sobering number of great musicians who have died in the past year, but it’s hard to imagine a more fitting homage to Glenn Frey, the Eagles co-founder who passed away on Jan. 18, than the one the show has planned.
In it, Eagles co-founders Don Henley and Bernie Leadon will be joined by guitarist Joe Walsh, bassist Tim Schmit and Jackson Browne to pay tribute to their bandmate and friend — and it seems almost inevitable that their performance will include “Take It Easy.” The song was the Eagles’ first hit, was written primarily by Browne (with contributions from Frey), and was sung by Frey.
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Before either became successful, Browne and Frey were roommates (with fellow Eagles songwriter John David Souther) in East Los Angeles, and the Eagle often said he’d learned how to become a songwriter by witnessing Browne’s intense dedication to his craft. In the group’s early days, Browne would sometimes join the band onstage to perform the song — which was the first taste of mainstream success for either of these artists, who came to define the country-inflected, soft-rock L.A. sound of the 1970s.
Leadon was a member of the pioneering country-rock act the Flying Burrito Brothers — a key influence on the Eagles — before he teamed up with Frey, Henley and bassist Randy Meisner as Linda Ronstadt’s backing band in 1971. The musicians gelled so well they decided to strike out on their own, with Ronstadt’s enthusiastic encouragement, and Leadon’s stinging, soaring guitar work — beautifully captured in his solo on “Take It Easy” — was a hallmark of the Eagles’ early recordings. He left the group in 1975 and was replaced by Walsh; Meisner followed suit two years later and was replaced by Schmit, a former member of the influential country-rock act Poco.
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Frey died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia after several months of illness. His last performance with the Eagles took place in Louisiana on July 29, 2015.
The Grammy Awards take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Monday, February 15 and will be broadcast live on CBS. Performers include Adele, Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar, Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Diplo, Skrillex, Chris Stapleton, Bonnie Raitt?,Ellie Goulding, the Broadway cast of Hamilton, Lady Gaga (performing a David Bowie tribute) and The Weeknd.