FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Winslow, Arizona, was all but forgotten when Interstate 40 displaced Route 66 and began whisking travellers around its downtown in the late 1970s.
But it still had one thing going for it: Everybody wanted to stand on a corner in the small city after hearing Glenn Frey and the Eagles make it sound so cool in “Take It Easy.”
Locals capitalized on the lyrics with an annual festival and park featuring a statue and mural commemorating the 1972 song.
Frey died Monday at 67. Winslow residents were planning a memorial service Tuesday night that will feature Eagles songs and likely dancing in the street.
“All are on the same page of being grateful for the music,” said Tom McCauley, part of a foundation that organizes the annual Standin’ on the Corner Festival. “The Eagles is one of the greatest rock and roll bands, and Glenn Frey is certainly one of the most iconic performers ever.”
Fans have been leaving flowers and notes at the park to celebrate the life of Frey, who co-wrote and sang “Take It Easy.”
The nearby bronze statue of a man with boots, jeans and a guitar has stood downtown since the late 1990s. In front of it is a Route 66 shield painted on the road and behind him is a mural with a woman looking in his direction – a visual reference to the line in the song, “It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flatbed Ford slowin’ down to take a look at me.”
Tyler Blom of Duluth, Minnesota, was on his way to Las Vegas with a friend when they decided to detour to Winslow to pay their respects.
“If you don’t know that song, you gotta get your pulse checked,” said Blom, 27. “If you don’t like that song, it’s an ‘I don’t know if I can be friends with you,’ kind of thing.”
Locals say the Eagles were hugely supportive of their efforts to capitalize on the lyrics.
The Old Trails Museum in Winslow has a letter from Eagles band member Don Henley that came with a $1,000 donation for Standin’ on the Corner Park, volunteer Pat Raygor said.
Shops display Eagles tour posters and sell T-shirts, magnets and mugs depicting the song and its lyrics.
“We’re so appreciative here in Winslow, not just for Glenn Frey but for the Eagles,” said Bob Hall, chief executive of the Winslow Chamber of Commerce. “Everybody knows that song, and it’s helped us get Winslow back on the map.”
McCauley said this year’s festival will be dedicated to Frey, and the foundation eventually will put up a plaque to honour him near the statue affectionately dubbed “Easy.”
AP writer Alina Hartounian in Phoenix contributed to this story.