Jackson Browne served as frontman for the Eagles during a tribute to their late bandmate Glenn Frey at the 58th Grammy Awards. Browne’s tribute with the iconic band included a performance of the group’s 1972 hit “Take It Easy,” a song he co-wrote with Frey.
“Take It Easy” was the Eagles’ debut single and one of the band’s signature songs, but Jackson Browne started the song as one of his own in the early 1970s. Frey later tweaked Browne’s lyrics in the second verse with the memorable line, “It’s a girl my lord in a flatbed Ford, slowing down to take a look at me.” Frey died on January 18 from complications of rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia, according to Rolling Stone.
Jackson Browne joined Eagles members Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Bernie Leadon, and Timothy B. Schmit for the Grammys tribute for Frey. But before Browne teamed up with the surviving Eagles for the tribute, country legend Vince Gill performed the song “Peaceful Easy Feeling” at the Grand Ol’ Opry, and Bruce Springsteen performed “Take It Easy” in concert in Frey’s honor.
But it’s Jackson Browne who has long been regarded as an honorary member of the Eagles. In addition to co-writing one of the band’s biggest hits, he was good friends with Frey. But Jackson once admitted he didn’t have what it takes to be in the ’70s supergroup. In an interview with the Nation, Browne said he didn’t have the voice to be part of the iconic band. Plus, he was never actually asked to join them.
“I mean, I would’ve loved to be in the Eagles, but I don’t have the skills—besides the fact that they didn’t ask me to be in the Eagles?… I didn’t sing well enough, I don’t think. And, I think also, I probably wouldn’t have been very good at being in the band, as much as I would’ve like to.”
Browne also detailed exactly how the Eagles ended up getting his song “Take It Easy.” It turns out the band’s debut single came courtesy of a very persistent Glenn Frey.
“I had just started it, and I played if for Glenn and sang it for him walking down the street, actually. And then he said, ‘Are you going to it on your own record.’ And I said, ‘No, I don’t think so.’ I was finishing my record, but I had a ways to go on the song. And they were about to start theirs. So he said, ‘Well, if you get it done, we’d like to do it.’ He called me right away and said, ‘Well is this done?’ like a week later. And I said, ‘No, man. I told you I’m not going to—I’m working on—I’m trying to finish these other songs.’ And then a couple weeks later he asked me again, and he said, ‘You want me to finish it?’ And I said, ‘You finish it!’
Jackson Browne went on to his own successful solo career with late ’70s hits like “Running On Empty” and “Somebody’s Baby.” Jackson also made headlines for his 10-year relationship with actress Darryl Hannah.
Of course, the appearance of Jackson Browne at the Grammy Awards had some rock fans wondering what the “Running on Empty” singer has been up to. In recent years, Browne has kept a lower profile. The rock star lives “off-grid” on a California ranch that boasts a self-made wind-generator. Jackson Browne’s last album, Standing in the Breach, was released in 2014.
Check out the video to see Jackson Browne performing at the Grammys with the Eagles.
[Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS]