Guitarist Glenn Frey, a founding member of the legendary classic rock band the Eagles, died Monday of complications from rheumatoid arthritis, acute ulcerative colitis, and pneumonia, a note on the band’s official website confirmed. He was 67.
“It is with the heaviest of hearts that we announce the passing of our comrade, Eagles founder Glenn Frey, in New York City,” the band wrote on its website. “The Frey family would like to thank everyone who joined Glenn to fight this fight and hoped and prayed for his recovery. 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.”
Frey had been sick since last year and in December the Eagles postponed their appearance at the Kennedy Center Honors due to Frey’s illness. In a statement at the time, the band said Frey “has had a recurrence of previous intestinal issues, which will require major surgery and a lengthy recovery period.” The Eagles are scheduled to be honored in the 2016 ceremony.
The Eagles were one of the biggest rock bands of all time and pioneered the easy-going sound of late-’70s L.A. rock. Their 1976 album, Their Greatest Hits, featured classic AM gold tracks like “Take It Easy” and “Take It To the Limit.” To date, the collection is the second-highest selling album of all time, according to the RIAA, which has certified it as 29x platinum. (Only Michael Jackson’s Thriller has sold more.)
Frey founded the band with Don Henley in 1971, though the Eagles took a hiatus from 1980 to 1994. “He was like a brother to me; we were family, and like most families, there was some dysfunction,” Henley said in a statement to EW after Frey’s death. “But, the bond we forged 45 years ago was never broken, even during the 14 years that the Eagles were dissolved.” Henley called him a “spark plug, the man with the plan.”
The Eagles celebrated their 40th anniversary in 2012, but Frey told PEOPLE that they weren’t “nearly mercenary enough to put together some massive campaign to capitalize on [their] anniversary.” “Nowadays it’s room service, television, book, and nighttime meds,” he said of the band’s calmer lifestyle. “The most unattractive thing is middle-aged adolescence.”
Frey also occasionally appeared onscreen: He guest-starred in a 1985 Miami Vice episode named after his song “Smuggler’s Blues,” and had a recurring role on Wiseguy in the late ’80s. He also had a small role in 1996’s Jerry Maguire.
As a solo artist, Frey was known for tracks like “The Heat Is On,” which hit No. 2 on the Hot 100 and appeared in Beverly Hills Cop, and “You Belong To The City,” another No. 2 single. He released his fifth and final solo album, After Hours — a collection of standards including Brian Wilson’s “Caroline, No” and hits from the ’40s like “Route 66″— in 2012.