LISTEN: Glenn Frey Sings With Longbranch Pennywhistle, His Pre-Eagles Band

by Clayton Edwards

Glenn Frey is best known for his time with The Eagles. He also had a successful solo career. Before he found success in either of those lanes, he was in a duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle.

The group was made up of Frey and J.D. Souther. Much like The Eagles, their band blended country, rock, and folk. They released a self-titled album in 1969. When that album didn’t see any real success, the duo broke up. They would, however, continue to collaborate in the future. Souther and Frey collaborated for years after their duo split.

The Longbranch Pennywhistle album was remixed, remastered, and re-released in 2018. It was first released as part of Glenn Frey’s greatest hits collection. The album was released by itself later in the year. You can check the whole 10-track album out on Spotify, YouTube, or iTunes.

The band’s sound is comparable to other country-rock bands of the time. Some tracks, like “Run Boy, Run” sound more like Creedence Clearwater Revival than The Eagles. Other tracks sound like pretty standard folk-rock. It’s not the most electrifying album you’ll ever hear. However, if you’re an Eagles fan, you can see the budding songwriting skills of Glenn Frey and J.D. Souther.

A Chance Meeting Set the Stage for Glenn Frey’s Career

Glenn Frey med J.D. Souther after moving from Detroit to Los Angeles. Frey did not go west looking for fame, though. It was the late sixties and his decision to move was much more practical. According to his website, he had read “Life” magazine articles about hippie culture in California. Free love and free drugs sounded like great reasons to relocate to Frey. He had also received a draft notice. A change of address would help him avoid the draft. With those things in mind, he and a few friends loaded up and headed west.

Luckily for Glenn Frey, a girlfriend of his had moved to LA before him. He had a place to go and a familiar face waiting on him. His girlfriend’s sister was dating J.D. Souther, a singer-songwriter from Texas. The two became fast friends. Soon, they started collaborating on music and they formed Longbranch Pennywhistle.

Glenn Frey’s friendship and collaboration with Souther lasted far longer than their duo. Souther would go on to write or co-write some of The Eagles’ biggest hits such as “Heartache Tonight,” “New Kid in Town,” and “Best of My Love.”