Dan Fogelberg

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.