Home Free is the debut album by the late American singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg, released in 1972. "Home Free" has been certified Platinum by the RIAA for certified sales of 1,000,000 copies, but as a re-issue, not during the original release, which had lukewarm success.
Daniel Grayling "Dan" Fogelberg (August 13, 1951 – December 16, 2007) was an American singer-songwriter, composer, and multi-instrumentalist, whose music was inspired by sources as diverse as folk, pop, rock, classical, jazz, and bluegrass music. He is perhaps best known for his 1980 hit "Longer" and his 1981 hit "Leader of the Band".
Dan Fogelberg, the youngest of three sons, 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's 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 that his grandfather gave to him; he also learned to play the piano. At age 14 he joined a band, The Clan, which covered The Beatles. His second band was another cover combo, The Coachmen, who in 1967 released two singles, written by Fogelberg, on Ledger Records: "Maybe Time Will Let Me Forget" and "Don't Want To Lose Her."
After graduating from Woodruff High School in 1969, Fogelberg studied theater arts and painting at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He 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. He was discovered that year 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. Azoff sent Fogelberg to Nashville to hone his skills, where he became a session musician and recorded his first album, with producer Norbert Putnam. In 1972, Dan released his debut album Home Free to lukewarm response. He performed as an opening act for Van Morrison. Fogelberg's second effort was much more successful—the 1974 Joe Walsh–produced album Souvenirs and its song "Part of the Plan" became Fogelberg's first hit.
Fogelberg was married three times: to Maggie Slaymaker, a dancer from Nashville, from 1982–1985; to Anastasia Savage, a nurse and artist from Louisiana, from 1991–1996; and to musician Jean Marie Mayer, from April 7, 2002 until his death in late 2007. He had no children by any of his marriages.
After Souvenirs, Fogelberg released a string of gold and platinum albums, including Captured Angel (1975) and Nether Lands (1977), and found commercial success with songs such as "The Power of Gold." His 1978 Twin Sons of Different Mothers was the first of two collaborations with jazz flautist Tim Weisberg. 1979's Phoenix reached the Top 10, with "Longer" becoming a #2 pop hit (and wedding standard) in 1980. The track peaked at #59 in the UK Singles Chart - his sole entry in that listing. The album reached #42 in the UK Albums Chart, likewise Fogelberg's only entry there. This was followed by a 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. Fogelberg drew inspiration for The Innocent Age from Thomas Wolfe's novel Of Time and the River. A 1982 greatest hits album contained two new songs, both of which were released as singles: "Missing You" and "Make Love Stay." In 1984, he released the album Windows and Walls, containing the singles "The Language of Love" and "Believe in Me".
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 he defined as "life in the fast lane," Fogelberg described the music as "life in the off-ramp." In late 1985, Fogelberg switched gears and took to the road with a group of musician friends, including Joe Vitale and Rick Rosas, playing blues in small clubs throughout Colorado as Frankie and the Aliens, covering songs by Cream and Muddy Waters, among others. 1987 heralded a return to rock with Exiles, an album that contained a song, "What You're Doing," a throwback to the old Stax Records sound made famous in Memphis during the 1960s. While touring in New England early in 1988, he came across an issue of Nine-O-One Network Magazine, which was published in Memphis, and he called the publisher, James L. Dickerson, and an interview resulted that landed him on the cover of the April 1988 issue. Known for his many relationship songs, he confessed that he hadn't had a lot of relationships and wrote based on his observations of other people's relationships: "I think it's kind of every man for himself. I'm really not the great philosopher on relationships. I haven't been the most successful person in that area." 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", and "Hits." In 1999, he released a Christmas album, with his release of First Christmas Morning, and in 2003, Full Circle showcased a return to the folk-influenced 1970s soft rock style of music.
Fogelberg used his music to address social issues, including peace and Native American concerns. He was particularly outspoken about 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.
In 2002, fans showed their appreciation by choosing Fogelberg as one of the first ten 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. He said that he had no immediate plans to return to making music but was keeping his options open. After battling prostate cancer for three years, Fogelberg succumbed to the disease on December 16, 2007, at his home in Deer Isle, with wife Jean by his side. He was 56 years old."
Soon after his death, his widow 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 that all proceeds would go to the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The song was released on Valentine's Day 2008 and was also included in a collection of eleven previously unpublished songs (nine originals) on a CD released in September 2009 titled Love In Time.
In tribute to Fogelberg and the entire Fogelberg family, the city of Peoria renamed Abington Street in the city's East Bluff neighborhood "Fogelberg Parkway". The street runs along the east side of Woodruff High School, Fogelberg's alma mater, and where his father was a teacher and bandleader. "Fogelberg Parkway" ends at the intersection of N. Prospect and Frye, which is the location of the convenience store where Fogelberg ran into his old high school sweetheart one Christmas Eve, a chance encounter made famous in the song "Same Old Lang Syne".
In the fall of 2009, the Peoria City Council granted permission to a group of Dan Fogelberg fans to begin fund-raising efforts to create a permanent memorial to Fogelberg in his hometown of Peoria. The memorial garden, placed in Riverfront Park, was dedicated in a ceremony held on August 28, 2010.
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