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Friday, January 22, 2016

In Memoriam: Alan Rickman and Glenn Frey

Written by Jon Williams

The year 2016 has kicked off on a melancholy note for the entertainment industry, particularly over the past couple of weeks. On the heels of David Bowie’s passing last week came the news about actor Alan Rickman. Then, earlier this week, we lost Eagles guitarist Glenn Frey. Both of these men were giants in their particular fields, and will be sorely missed.

Alan Rickman gained his acting stature relatively late in life. He was primarily a stage actor with just a few small TV parts to his name when he landed the role of Hans Gruber in the action movie staple Die Hard. Released in 1988, Rickman was 42 when it came out, and he received acclaim for his portrayal, becoming known as one of the best “bad guys” of all time. With his deep voice and theatrical manner, he became known for playing villainous (or quasi-villainous), authoritarian characters, such as the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, and Judge Turpin in Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd.

However, these were by no means the only types of roles he played. He could do comedic roles, such as in Galaxy Quest, and as the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. He was also quite adept in more complex, emotional roles, such as heart surgeon Alfred Blalock in Something the Lord Made, and as part of a dynamite ensemble cast in the much-loved Love Actually.

Glenn Frey, on the other hand, began tasting success at a fairly early age. He was just 19 when he backed up Bob Seger on the single “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man.” Not long after, he was hired for Linda Ronstadt’s backing band, along with a drummer from Texas named Don Henley. In 1971, Henley and Frey (along with Bernie Leadon and Randy Meisner) formed the Eagles; their debut album, recorded and released in 1972, included the hit “Take It Easy,” which Frey wrote with Jackson Browne. They would record and release (with some lineup changes) six albums in the 1970s before their breakup in 1980 (their volatility can be seen in the documentary History of the Eagles). Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 would be the top-selling album of the 20th century in the United States.

After the Eagles, Frey would put together a solid solo catalog in the ‘80s, helped along by soundtrack contributions. The songs “The Heat Is On” and “You Belong to the City” (compiled on his Solo Collection) appeared in Beverly Hills Cop and Miami Vice, respectively. Then, in 1994, the Eagles got back together for an MTV special, which resulted in the mostly live Hell Freezes Over album and tour. In 2007, they released the two-disc album Long Road Out of Eden, which would be their last. Frey’s last solo album, After Hours, was released in 2012, was a collection of covers.

Both of these men had outstanding careers, each worthy of greater exploration on their own; we just had the great misfortune to lose both of them within days of each other. For more, SmartBrowse their names on our website, and share their wonderful movies and music with your patrons for years to come.

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