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Guitarist Glenn Frey, ‘Spark Plug' of The Eagles, Dies at 67

Guitarist Glenn Frey, one of the founders of seminal rock band The Eagles, died Monday after a weekslong illness, the band announced on its website. 

Frey was 67. He died of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis and pneumonia in New York City, according to The Eagles' site.

"Words can neither describe our sorrow, nor our love and respect for all that he has given to us, his family, the music community & millions of fans worldwide," said the note, signed by Cindy, Taylor, Deacon and Otis Frey, along with Don Henley and five other members of The Eagles.

A driving force behind The Eagles, he co-wrote of some of the best-known singles and albums in rock history, inlcuding "Hotel California," "Lying Eyes" and "Take It Easy." The band is one of the top selling of all time, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1998.

After the band broke up in 1980, Frey struck out on a solo career, scoring a hit with single "The Heat Is On" and appearing in an episode of "Miami Vice" and in a small role in the movie "Jerry Maguire."

Frey founded The Eagles with Henley, Jackson Browne and John David Souther in 1971, after coming together as the backing band for singer Linda Ronstadt, according to their entry in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. From those humble beginnings, they went on to sell more albums in the 70s than any other American band and received the first certified platinum album, "Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975."

The RIAA certified the album 29x platinum in 2006, second-most ever sold after Michael Jackson's "Thriller," according to the association's rankings.

"They began as wide-eyed country-rockers on the fertile Los Angeles music scene and evolved into purveyors of grandiose, dark-themed albums about excess and seduction," the Hall wrote.

Frey was asked about the band's success in a 2012 Rolling Stone interview, and he responded that, while he doesn't think about the album sales every day, "it boggles the mind somewhat."

"You just have to keep perspective. As long as I keep taking out the garbage and cleaning up after the dogs and taking the kids to school, I'll have perspective," he said.

The band harmonized on stage, but often fought off of it. Henley had vowed The Eagles would reunite only when "hell freezes over," which became the name of the 1994 album they never imagined making.

Despite the occasional discord, Henley said Monday that Frey was like a brother to him.

"We were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction. But, the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that The Eagles were dissolved," Henley said in a statement. "Glenn was the one who started it all. He was the spark plug, the man with the plan. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of popular music and a work ethic that wouldn't quit. He was funny, bullheaded, mercurial, generous, deeply talented and driven."

The Eagles had been set to receive the 2015 Kennedy Center Honors along with Carole King, George Lucas and others on Dec. 6, but it was postponed for a year due to Frey's health.

"The Kennedy Center has graciously agreed to postpone The Eagles' award presentation until next year, when all four Eagles, Glenn Frey, Don Henley, Joe Walsh, and Timothy B. Schmit, can attend," the band said in a statement posted on the Kennedy Center's website. 

The goodbye note to Frey posted by his family and the band concluded with the lyrics to "It's Your World Now," which Frey wrote with Jack Tempchin:

It's your world now
Use well your time
Be part of something good
Leave something good behind
The curtain falls
I take my bow
That's how it's meant to be
It's your world now

The AP's Hillel Italie contributed to this report.

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