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INTERVIEW / An Eagle lands: Glenn Frey tells Lloyd Bradley about life after The Eagles.

Lloyd Bradley
Wednesday 01 July 1992 23:02 BST

GLENN FREY's just-released Strange Weather has all the guitar interplay, sheer whimsy and wry lyrical content you'd expect from the man who helped to write 'Lyin' Eyes' and other huge hits for The Eagles. But it's little short of remarkable if you take into account the guitarist's solo directions since the The Eagles' dissolution 12 years ago.

Leaning heavily on horns and keyboards, he's flirted with R&B, blues and disco, in fact virtually anything other than the beer-from-the-bottle, macho-tomaudlin, Marlboro Man rock that played so successful a part in his previous life.

The early years of his solo career were, says Frey, a matter of getting The Eagles out of his system. Of 'learning to write songs without Don Henley', of coming to grips with performing 'without a band to hide within' and 'adapting to a life I hadn't known since I was 21, a life without a 24-hour-a-day responsibility to The Eagles'.

'Until recently,' he explains, 'I've always explained The Eagles' break-up in two words, 'Hotel California', and left it at that. Now, more than 10 years later, it's not too difficult to talk about it in more depth, but it comes down to the same thing. There's only a handful of artists per decade that have success on that scale, but the underside of it is following it up and The Long Run was the most difficult album I've ever been involved with. It was the same for all of us. We worked hard to keep it loose, but everything had to be right and we spent three years on it, far longer than any other record.

'It had stopped being fun. We no longer trusted each other's instincts, so there was considerable disagreement as we were for the first time considering what we ought to be doing. Also, working in close quarters for such a length of time without the distractions you get on a tour, we found out a lot about each other. Like how we each reacted to the pressure, and how it was hard to cope with it rationally because we'd been living this lifestyle of limos, private jets, first-class hotels and people doing what you told them to. Plus, both Henley and I had developed drug habits, which didn't help matters. Going to the studio was like going to school - I simply didn't want to go. But most importantly, during the making of The Long Run Henley and I found out that lyrics are not a replenishable source.

'We, Don in particular, said a mouthful on Hotel California and a big part of the problem was 'What do we talk about now?' Then, because of what we were as members of The Eagles, we had far fewer real-life experiences to draw on.

'Towards the end, we just wanted to get the record finished and released. It is a very polished album, as well it should be after all that, and has some excellent moments, but none of us wanted to go through that again so we figured it was the right time to call it a day. Once that decision was made, I experienced an overwhelming sense of relief.' And with it the desire to get a life. First he just cut out alcohol and cocaine. 'When I gave up snorting I found I didn't need to drink any more and started to behave like a human- being again.'

Then he had to address the situation which he sums up as his being 'one of the richest men in the rock business, but I didn't live anywhere'.

He moved to the Rocky Mountain millionaires' playground of Aspen ('When Geffen first signed The Eagles in 1971, they sent us up there to play a bar for a month to sharpen up, and I said then that's where I'll buy my first house'), got into sports and charity. The rock'n'roll conversion is now complete: he is married, has a two-year-old daughter and has taken up acting (a part in Miami Vice based on his 'Smuggler's Blues' song, a B-picture, seven episodes of the US TV series Wiseguys).

Screen stardom is something he will pursue for as long as he can 'do it properly and not just be another rock-star trying to get by on a built-in following'. He certainly has no need to trade on his Eagles connections. Glenn Frey is so rich he could spend the rest of his life - pro-celebrity golf tournaments permitting - in his personal studios making albums for his own amusement.

Think about it: tune into any easy-listening radio station for an afternoon, get trapped in a lift or pass through an airport, and if you haven't heard either 'Lyin' Eyes' or 'Hotel California' you should get your ears tested. Frey co-wrote both and, as he coyly puts it, 'those little blue cheques keep rolling in'. It's in this light that an Eagles reunion - despite the release of what is, by his own admission, his most Eagles-ish album to date - seems unlikely. A state of affairs he's happy to confirm. 'About three years ago I felt that if Henley and myself could write three new songs, if we could go into the studio and everybody came together on the same page, we'd put them on a repackage of all the hits and go out and blitz a bunch of baseball stadiums.

'But the sad truth of the matter is that over the course of a few months when we tried it Don Henley and I could not get together artistically or personally.

'I wanted to keep it all under wraps with Henley and me meeting in secret, but all I had to do was mention I was interested in the idea and two days later I was reading about a reunion tour and album. I'm sure Irving Azoff (The Eagles' old manager, who still looks after group business) was straight on the phone to the others saying 'I've got Frey, he'll bring in Henley, so just sit back and wait]'

'It definitely won't happen now, because during that period I was able to get a feel for the other guys again and it appeared to me that except for the money they really had no reason for doing it.

'Also, once we got together we'd revert to exactly the behaviour of 12 years ago.' Does this mean he doesn't get on with the other ex-Eagles?

'We've drifted apart. As Henley and I are the only ones with record deals, that alters any attitude they might have towards us - so it's only Henley and I that have much in common these days. I love him and love the records he makes - he's a craftsman - but most of the time I don't like him] We haven't taken the same path - he still lives the LA rock'n'roll lifestyle and I don't.

'As for the rest of the band, if The Eagles were to be inducted into the Rock'n' Roll Hall Of Fame whenever we're eligible, I'll be happy to go up and play and hang out with the guys for the evening, I just don't want to spend 15 months with them] Not for just dollars 10m.'

(Photograph omitted)

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