The passing of singer/songwriter Glenn Frey earlier this week has touched people across the world. Frey was one of the founding members of the Eagles, and also enjoyed success as a solo artist.
One of the songs that is most closely associated with Frey is “Take It Easy.” It was sung by Frey, and co-written by Frey and fellow musician Jackson Browne. It was the Eagle’s first single, released in May 1972, and quickly climbed the charts. One of the lines in the song famously states: “Well, I’m a standin’ on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, such a fine sight to see; It’s a girl, my Lord, in a flat-bed Ford, slowin’ down to take a look at me.”
As a result of the song, the town of Winslow created “Standin’ on the Corner Park” in 1999. The park features a bronze sculpture of a man holding a guitar.
That sculpture was created by Libby native Ron Adamson.
Adamson, 60 years old, still lives in Libby, and says that he is a self-taught artist. His art career began when he was working at a lumber mill in Libby; he said that when machines broke down, or work stopped for any reason, he would often begin carving. He quickly gained a reputation for his speed when carving.
That carving hobby led to a decades-long career as an artist, and this week, it has brought him quite a bit of publicity, thanks to his Winslow sculpture.
Adamson recalled that he was in Bishop, California, in 1997 attending an art show when someone in Winslow contacted him about doing a piece for the now-famous corner. He flew to Winslow to meet with committee members who were trying to create the park and decide on a sculptor.
Adamson says that no one knew exactly what the sculpture should be, but they wanted “something.” He went to work, traveling between Libby and Winslow several times, to show the committee his proposals.
He noted that even back then, before there was an actual “location” dedicated to the song, that many people would stop their cars, hop out, and take pictures at the corner. The committee and Adamson finally settled on what he calls a “70s individual, about six feet tall.” Adamson used Dustin, one of his two sons, as a model for the sculpture.
The committee originally wanted the sculpture to depict a man holding a guitar in a traditional pose, as if playing it, but Adamson realized that might not be safe, if people began bumping into the outstretched guitar. So he opted instead to have the “laid-back” man holding the guitar vertically, with the bottom of the guitar resting on his boot – Adamson says he knew that no musician would rest the bottom of the guitar on the ground.
Creating the sculpture proved challenging – and a bit dangerous. A video recorded during the process captures some harrowing moments (see video below). The installation of the sculpture was completed in September 1999.
This week, with the death of Frey, Adamson has been inundated with “likes” and “share” on his Facebook page, as the Winslow sculpture has become one of the physical manifestations of people’s appreciation for Frey and his music.
As for the actual song, Adamson has always been a fan.
He recalled, “The first time I heard that song, I was getting out of the car, I was 16 years old, I was on my way to Norway to meet my cousins. It was just a song you could hum it, sing it…I’ve always loved it.”
While the Winslow sculpture is certainly his best-known piece of art, Adamson says that he has been fortunate to make a living creating art.
He has been commissioned to create awards for Hollywood actors, which included attending some private functions where he met celebrities such as Rod Steiger and Tony Curtis. He has also attended many events during Western Art Week in Great Falls.
The StandinOnTheCorner website provides this overview:
The Standin’ On The Corner in Winslow, Arizona Park has unfolded segment by segment; first with the land donated by the Kaufman family, next a two-story mural by Trompe L’oeil artist John Pugh and finally a life-sized bronze statue created by sculptor Ron Adamson depicting a 1970’s man standing on the corner wearing jeans, boots, shirt and vest with a guitar standing on the toe of his boot. All of this is surrounded by ground-set inscribed donor bricks each telling its own story of a fondness for Winslow by all who have stood on this famous corner and now have a permanent place there.