The Leader of the Band – Dan Fogelberg

In Christmas of 1978 I needed to find my older brother a gift. On most occasions I got him a LP that he had wanted or that was popular at the time.  That year I went to a OZ records store and bought him Twin Sons of Different Mothers an album by Dan Fogelberg who collaborated with jazz flutist Tim Weisberg on the production. It was the  fifth album by American singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg..

Dan Fogelberg has taken his Final Taxi at age 56.

Daniel Grayling Fogelberg was born  in Peoria, Illinois, in 1951
to musical parents, he learnt the piano and guitar as a boy.Much influenced by the Beatles, he formed his first band, the Clan, at the age of 14 and recorded his first records with the Coachmen in 1967, when he was still at school.

While attending the University of Illinois, he began performing solo in local
coffeehouses. Singers such as James Taylor, Carole King and Joni Mitchell were ushering in the era of the gentle, sensitive singer-songwriter, and Fogelberg slotted readily into this mode.

After being discovered by Irving Azoff, who became his manager, he was persuaded to move to California. Azoff’s priority at the time was the launch of an unknown group called the Eagles, but he secured Fogelberg a support slot on a tour with Van Morrison and by 1972 had landed him a recording deal with Columbia.

The Eagles’ association was beneficial in more ways than one, and the band’s guitarist, Joe Walsh, came to produce Fogelberg’s second album, Souvenirs, in 1974. The song Part
of the Plan gave him his first hit.

The following year Azoff put him on the bill as the support act on the Eagles’ “One of These Nights” tour, which further enhanced his visibility.

His third album, Nether Lands (1977), was regard by long-term Fogelberg fans as his finest album.

On his next release, Twin Sons of Different Mothers (1979), he teamed up with the flautist Tim Weisberg, mixing instrumental tracks with potent ballads such as The Power of Gold. But it was the album Phoenix in 1980 that took him to the peak of commercial success, particularly with the sentimental ballad Longer, which made No 2 in the American charts and has become a wedding standard.

He followed it in 1981 with The Innocent Age, an ambitious double album song cycle that chronicled highly personal events in his own life – the subject of Leader of the Band
was his father, Lawrence, who had directed a high-school band; Same Old Lang Syne was about an accidental meeting with an old girlfriend. Both gave him American Top 20 hits. That song is still played today as many radio stations turn to a Christmas playlist during December.

An early champion of environmental causes, as a founding member in 1979 of Musicians United for Safe Energy, he participated in several high-profile “No Nukes” concerts
alongside Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt and in 1982 he left Los Angeles for the solitude of the wilderness when he bought a 600-acre ranch in Colorado.

Portrait, a four-disc career retrospective released in 1997, served as a reminder of what a versatile, as well as prolific, songwriter he was, and his final album, Full Circle, appeared in 2003.

Dan Fogelberg’s music can be heard on the soundtracks of such films as “FM,” “About Scmidt” and “Urban Cowboy.”

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3 Responses

  1. Amazing to read how many of our old music heros are leaving this life.
    Dan F was a big, instrumental soundtrack in my emotional youth.

    I never met him but I did get to meet and hang a bit with Tim Weisberg. What a fine, soulful fellow. Hope he manages more than 56 years.

    Great article Ron, keep up the fine work.

  2. Dan will be missed. Though his output slowed in recent years it was nice knowing the man behind all the earlier great music still toured and stayed true to himself. I saw him in concert only once – Austin in late 1979 0r early 1980.

    A minor point – Joe Walsh was still a couple of years away from becoming an Eagle when he produced “Souvenirs”.

  3. Dan’s third album was NOT Netherlands. It was Captured Angel. A great piece of music that you left out altogether. That was a glaring omission because Captured Angel is a historic album. One of the only pop albums in recorded history to go platinum without a single top 40 hit. Also, you never mentioned his first album called Homefree. Another gem without a hit song. Homefree is so good musically that it has been called an embarrassment of riches by some critics. After it’s release only a few of us across the country knew how good it was and we became part of a Dan cult. His next album had Part of the Plan on it and now he had a hit song and he was a star. But those of you with real ears, those of you who pride yourself on hearing music better than others. If you have an ear for beauty and subtelty, check out Homefree.

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