Today is the 47th birthday of folk/pop/rock singer and songwriter Dan Fogelberg, who
was born and raised in Peoria, Ill. As a youth, Fogelberg studied piano, played guitar
and began writing songs at the age of 14. While playing campus coffeehouses at the
University of Illinois, where he studied art, Fogelberg met Irving Azoff, then a manager of
local bands such as REO Speedwagon (Azoff is now a music-industry giant, having
managed the Eagles and other rock greats, and currently the head of Revolution
Records). Under Azoff's wing, Fogelberg moved to Los Angeles to play the folk-club
circuit and sat in on sessions by the town's burgeoning crowd of singer/songwriters,
including Jackson Browne and Randy Newman. He signed with Columbia Records in
1971 and opened on tour for legendary rocker Van Morrison.
Fogelberg's debut, Home Free (1972), which included backup from Byrd Roger
McGuinn and future Eagle Joe Walsh, barely registered and he was dropped by
Columbia. But he soldiered on, and, with Azoff's help, joined Epic Records for
Souvenirs (1974), the first of seven consecutive platinum albums. "Part of the
Plan," from Souvenirs, cracked the top 40, and Fogelberg gained new fans by
touring with supergroup the Eagles in 1975.
Fogelberg never liked the star-making machinery of California, so he moved to Colorado
in the mid-'70s. Released in 1977, his Nether Lands featured lush orchestration,
but didn't yield any big hits. The next year's Twin Sons of Different Mothers, a
collaboration with jazz-pop flautist Tim Weisberg, was Fogelberg's fastest-selling LP to
date and became an FM-radio favorite.
Phoenix (1979) found Fogelberg at his commercial peak. The LP sold two million
copies and yielded his biggest hit, the sensitive ballad "Longer," which became a
wedding favorite. His follow-up, The Innocent Age (1981), yielded two top-10 hits,
"Same Old Lang Syne" and "Leader of the Band." But Fogelberg couldn't capitalize fully
on his popularity, due to stage-fright that caused him to cancel live appearances,
including a Dodgers Stadium gig with Elton John. In 1980, Fogelberg appeared on the
soundtrack to the hit film "Urban Cowboy," which was credited with renewing interest in
country music, and gave his first live television performance.
After the release of his first greatest-hits collection in 1982, Fogelberg was unable to
duplicate the commercial success of his late '70s work. River of Souls (1993) was
an experiment with world beats. In 1995, he re-teamed with Weisberg for No
Resemblance Whatsoever. Last year, Sony Music released Portrait: From
1972-97, a four-CD box-set retrospective of Fogelberg's long career.
Fogelberg has just completed a solo acoustic tour of the U.S.
Other birthdays: Tony Bennett, 72; and Feargal Sharkey (ex-Undertones), 40.