Your song “Same Old Lang Syne” - did that really happen?
Yes, absolutely it did. In 1975 or 76 I was home in Peoria, Illinois visiting my family for Christmas. I went to a convenience store to pick up some whipping cream to make Irish coffees with, and quite unexpectedly ran into an old high school girlfriend. The rest of the song tells the story.
Is it true you were a sideman for Van Morrison in your early career?
No, that’s not the truth. I never worked for Van Morrison. I did however, open several concerts for Van and his band in 1971. My manager at the time, Irving Azoff was working for a booking agency that booked Van Morrison, so he sent me out with my guitar to open his shows solo. Generally it was me, Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks and then Van and his band. Strange show, but somehow it seemed to work.
Is it true you were asked to join the Eagles?
No, I was never asked to join the Eagles, I was considered among many others when they were re-organizing the group before the “On The Border” album, but Don Henley and I had a long discussion and we both realized that I wouldn’t be the right choice. They were moving in one direction and I was heading in another. Eventually Joe Walsh got the job.
Early in your career much was made of stage fright or lack of dependability. A show at Dodger stadium with Elton John and the Eagles is often sited. Did you cancel shows due to stage fright?
Good Lord, no! I’ve been performing in front of audiences since I was 12 years old, it’s like breathing to me. Unfortunately, during my 20’s, I had a set of badly infected tonsils, which would flare up at the most inopportune times, make me very ill and force me to cancel concerts. The Dodger Stadium show in Los Angeles was canceled because I had a 103 degree fever and was unable to leave Colorado. In 1980 I finally had the tonsils removed which radically improved my overall health but lowered the pitch of my voice. To me, it was certainly a worthwhile trade off.
In 1994 you disassociated yourself with your longtime label Sony/Epic. Was that your doing, Sony’s or was it mutual?
Definitely my doing. I still owed Sony a couple of albums but I wasn’t comfortable with the amount of attention or promotion that the "River of Souls" or" The Wild Places" albums had received. At that time Irving Azoff had formed Giant Records and since he was my manager and one of my dearest friends, I felt that I would be better off there. Sony was very gracious and understanding in allowing me to terminate my contract, and I still have a very good relationship with the people at Sony who control and distribute most of my catalogue.
What music do you listen to?
Mostly Mozart. I rarely listen to popular music, especially pop music with lyrics. I prefer classical, jazz and Celtic. Although from time to time I still put on the Beatles.
Who are your favorite singer/songwriters?
I think the 60's and 70's were the" Golden Years" of pop song writing. The Beatles, Joni Mitchell, Gordon Lightfoot, and Buffalo Springfield really formed the core of my songwriting style. Today I’d have to say Sting stands above the rest. I’m also a huge fan of Randy Newman.
Who did you write "Leader of the Band" for?
"Leader of the Band" was written for my father Lawrence Fogelberg who was a musician, educator, and band leader. I was so gratified that I was able to give him that song before he passed on. In his final years he was interviewed many times by the national press because of it. He went out in a blaze of glory, which meant a lot to me and my family.
How did you meet your wife Jean?
Jean was a life-long professional musician who worked in bands as well as solo, almost from the same age that I did. When I met her she was playing guitar and singing at a cafe in Santa Fe. I started going in on a regular basis, we got to know each other, and eventually began dating.
What do you most enjoy doing when you’re not making music?
I’m an avid snow skier and ocean sailor. My wife and I keep a home on the coast of Maine and generally spend three or four months a year there on the water. I love to cook and entertain friends, I enjoy fine wines and traveling the world.
If you hadn’t become a musician what other profession might you have pursued?
I started out as a painter, and I hope to return to painting and photography full-time in the not-too-distant future. I also find architecture fascinating, and think I could probably be happy as a beach bum charter boat captain.
The Greatest Hits album was printed on the diagonal because it was going to be marketed and displayed that way in the record stores. Unfortunately, or fortunately, the idea was eventually scrapped by the record company because it was going to be too expensive to rig new display racks in all the record stores.
The song, "Same Old Lang Syne" took over a year to write. The melody was a musical tip of the hat toTchaikovsky's "1812 Overture."
Dan played all of the instruments on his CD "Full Circle". The musicians listed were Dan's little joke:
Roland Laboite - drums, percussion
(The drum machine, also known as a "drum box",or "beat box," that Dan programmed for the CD was made by Roland Corporation.
La boite is French for "the box".)
Donny Traut - bass
Sven Birkebeiner - keyboards
(Skiers call their skis "boards". The Birkebeiner is a Nordic cross country ski race honoring a historic Norwegian event. In 1206, two warrior soldiers, called "Birkebeiners" because of the birch-bark leggings they wore, skied infant Prince Haakon to safety during the Norwegian civil war. Dan had a poster of this hanging at the ranch.)
Lee Mealone - congas, percussion (leave me alone.)