The late Dan Fogelberg (August 13, 1951, Peoria, Illinois – December 16, 2007, Deer Isle, Maine) was an American singer/songwriter who had several gold and platinum releases in the late 1970's and early 80's. During his solo career, under assistance of Eagles manager Irving Azoff, he rose to prominence and epitomized the soft rock 70s sound. He also voiced his concerns on social and ecological issues, including the No Nukes concerts, and worked in the studio with a diverse variety of musicians including Van Morrison, Joe Walsh, Tim Weisberg and Ricky Skaggs.
The youngest of three sons, Dan was born in Peoria, Illinois, the son of Margaret (née Irvine), a classically-trained pianist, and Lawrence Peter Fogelberg, a high school band director, who spent most of his career at Peoria Woodruff High School and Pekin High School. Dan Fogelberg's mother was a Scottish immigrant and his father was of Swedish descent. His father would later be the inspiration for the song Leader of the Band. Using a Mel Bay course book, Dan taught himself to play a Hawaiian slide guitar his grandfather gave to him; he also learned to play the piano. He started his music career at age 14 when he joined his first band, The Clan, which paid homage to The Beatles. His second band was another cover combo, The Coachmen, which in 1967 released two singles on Ledger Records: "Maybe Time Will Let Me Forget" and "Don't Want To Lose Her." Another was the blues band, Frankie and the Aliens, who toured regionally during the 1980s covering songs by Cream and Muddy Waters, among others.
After graduating from Woodruff High School in 1969, he studied theater arts and painting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and began performing as a solo acoustic player in area coffeehouses including the Red Herring Coffeehouse where he made his first solo recordings as part of a folk festival recording in 1971. There, he was discovered in 1971 by Irving Azoff. Fogelberg and Azoff – who started his music-management career promoting another Champaign-Urbana act, REO Speedwagon – moved to California to seek their fortunes. Fogelberg became a session musician who played with pop-folk artists like Van Morrison. In 1972, he released his debut album Home Free to lukewarm response. His second effort was much more successful: the 1974 Joe Walsh-produced album Souvenirs and its hit song "Part of the Plan" made him a major star.
Following Souvenirs, Fogelberg released a string of gold and platinum albums, including Captured Angel (1975) and Nether Lands (1977), and found commercial success with songs like "The Power of Gold." His 1978 Twin Sons of Different Mothers was the first of two collaborations with jazz flutist Tim Weisberg. 1979's Phoenix reached the Top 10, with "Longer" becoming a #2 hit and wedding standard in winter 1980. This was followed by his Top 20 hit "Heart Hotels."
The Innocent Age, released in October 1981, was Fogelberg's critical and commercial peak. This double album song cycle included four of his biggest hits: "Leader of the Band," "Hard To Say," "Run for the Roses", and "Same Old Lang Syne," based on a real-life accidental meeting with a former girlfriend (Jill Anderson). In 1984, he rocked a little again with the album Windows And Walls.
Fogelberg released High Country Snows in 1985. Recorded in Nashville, it showcased his (and some of the industry's best) talent in the bluegrass genre. Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson, Jerry Douglas, David Grisman, Chris Hillman and Herb Pedersen were among those who contributed to the record. In a world defined by "life in the fast lane" Fogelberg described the music as "life in the off-ramp." 1987 heralded a return to rock with Exiles, while 1990's The Wild Places was a tribute to Earth preservation. In 1991, he released the live album Greetings from the West.
River of Souls, released in 1993, was Fogelberg's last studio album for Sony Records. In 1997, Portrait encompassed his career with four discs, each highlighting a different facet of his music: "Ballads," "Rock and Roll," "Tales and Travels" (which displayed his talents as a narrative songwriter) and "Hits." In 1999 he fulfilled a career-long dream of creating a Christmas album called First Christmas Morning, and in 2003, Full Circle showcased a return to the folk-influenced, 1970s soft rock-style of music for which he and other singer-songwriters from his era had gained popular recognition.
Fogelberg also used his music to address social issues, including peace and Native American concerns. He was particularly outspoken about his commitment to the environment and to finding alternatives to nuclear power. To that end, Fogelberg included "Face the Fire" on the Phoenix album and performed at a number of the Musicians United for Safe Energy "No Nukes" concerts in 1979 and 1980.
His live concerts won acclaim across the nation over the years. Fogelberg said one of his proudest moments came in 1979 when he played New York City's Carnegie Hall for an audience including his mother and father. Most summers, Fogelberg would perform with full band or in solo acoustic setting; the formats allowed him to show the breadth and depth of his talent as a singer, guitarist, pianist and bandleader. In 2002, fans showed their appreciation by choosing Fogelberg to be one of the first 10 inductees into the Performers Hall of Fame at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado.
In May 2004, Fogelberg was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. He underwent therapy and achieved a partial remission, which did not eliminate his cancer but reduced it and stopped its spread. On August 13, 2005, his 54th birthday, Fogelberg announced the success of his cancer treatments and he thanked fans for their support. He said that he had no immediate plans to return to making music but was keeping his options open and enjoying spending time with his wife, musician Jean Fogelberg.
Fogelberg maintained residences in Deer Isle, Maine and at Mountain Bird Ranch, a 610-acre property near Pagosa Springs, Colorado that he bought in 1982. The ranch was put up for sale in 2005.
After battling prostate cancer for three years, Fogelberg died on December 16, 2007 at his home in Maine with his wife Jean by his side.
Soon after his death, Fogelberg's wife, Jean, announced that a song written and recorded for her by Fogelberg for Valentine's Day 2005, Sometimes a Song, would be sold on the Internet and all proceeds would go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The song was released on Valentine's Day 2008. She further announced that this song would be included in a collection of eleven previously unrecorded songs (nine originals) to be released on a CD provisionally entitled "Love In Time".