Sadly, musician and songwriter Dan Fogelberg passed away on Sunday after a prolonged battle with prostate cancer. His official website posted this message for fans:
“Dan left us this morning at 6:00 a.m.,” the statement read. “He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife, Jean, at his side. His strength, dignity, and grace in the face of the daunting challenges of this disease were an inspiration to all who knew him.”
Growing up in Central Illinois, I had a natural affinity for Fogelberg’s work. You couldn’t escape hearing it on local radio or reading about in the Peoria Journal Star or Pekin Daily Times. As was the same with REO Speedwagon (Gary Richrath was from East Peoria), Richard Pryor and Sam Kinison who were all Peoria area celebrities.
I can’t count how many times I played Leader of the Band in band concerts and competitions in grade school and high school. While Heart Hotels, Power of Gold and Phoenix are my favorite Fogelberg tunes – his bigger hits Same Auld Lang Syne and Leader of the Band are both beautiful, yet sad compositions that easily provoke an emotional response in the listener – a feat only a real songwriter/musician can accomplish effectively. Fogelberg was decidedly both.
As an odd aside, The Leader of the Band (Larry Fogelberg) was the band director at Pekin Community High School when my father was a student there.
It is a strange, interconnected, small world we inhabit.