A serial memoir by Jean Fogelberg

The Road!

We were standing side by side, looking out the tall windows in Dan’s office, one afternoon in the Spring of 1999. The garden was in bloom and we were commenting on different plants when a hummingbird zipped into view and hovered over a blossom. “Oh,” I said, “the first hummingbird of Spring!” Dan started humming Morning Mood  by Grieg and we stood there smiling, the warm sun on our faces. 

    Mojo, that scoundrel black cat, leapt out of nowhere and nabbed the little bird right out of the air. Our simultaneous exclamations of “Oh!” and “Oh, no!” were like the proverbial turntable needle ripping across the grooves of a record. We stood there in stunned silence, our mouths open. When we looked at each other, we burst out laughing, at our expressions; the timing; and the cruel perversity of nature. 


    The Summer Tour 1999 was going to run from July 16th - August 4th; a relatively short tour for Dan. When he asked if I wanted to come along for part, or all, of it, I didn’t hesitate to say yes to all of it. Now that we were living together, I couldn’t imagine being apart from Dan for three weeks. Even when we were busy creating in our own spaces, we were continually popping in on each other and meeting for coffee or lunch. 

    I asked if he wanted me there; it would, after all, mean an extra plane ticket for each travel day, and food expenses. He most definitely wanted me to come along, but he warned that most band wives and girlfriends found it monotonous after a while, and he didn’t want me to feel obligated. I thought it sounded fantastic. In the end, we decided that this short tour would be a good trial run.

    The road! I was excited. In all my years in bands, The Road had been the holy grail. Lucrative house band contracts always ended up keeping us in one venue, though, sometimes for years. The security of steady paychecks was especially appealing to band members with families, which meant I was usually the lone vote for The Road.

    In all those years of performing five and six nights a week, I had little time for travel or nightlife. I’d been to only three concerts: George Benson, Fleetwood Mac, and Boston. Now I’d be traveling all over the country, and going to shows almost every night. 


    Touring with Dan was better than I’d ever imagined. At long last I was on the road, but traveling in a style I never could have imagined: private jets, first class flights, limos, fine restaurants and 5-star hotels. I’d been a motel maid and a diner waitress, now Dan was giving me tips on fine dining and I was making him a better tipper. 

    The audiences were on a much grander scale than I was used to, as well. Dan played to thousands of people a night; it was second nature to him, but the largest crowd I’d ever performed for was an outdoor concert crowd of maybe 500 people. For most of that first tour I stood in the wings, feeling some of the vicarious stage fright I’d experienced at the first event gig (recounted in Traveling and Unraveling.) But, by the next tour, in the Summer of 2000, I could usually be found in a dressing room or office with my laptop and a can of Coke, working on websites and listening to the show on the room monitors. Watching the show from the wings no longer made me nervous, but I never got past my encore anxiety. 

    Dan would play the “last” song, say goodnight, and then walk offstage, to resounding applause. As he toweled his face and neck, took a few swigs of cold beer, and talked with the road manager, band or crew, I would listen to the crowd, still applauding, and beseeching him to return. I was worried that, at any moment, they were going to give up, stop clapping and leave. They never did, though, and when Dan walked back onstage, refreshed and ready to play more, they would roar with happiness, and I loved them for it.

    While Dan played the final encore numbers, I packed up my portable office. If there was going to be a Meet and Greet, I’d wait in the dressing room for him. Otherwise I’d make my way through the labyrinth of halls to the waiting limo. I liked being out of the way before the after-show dismantling began. 

    The moment Dan left the stage area, the guitar tech began taking Dan’s guitars from the rack and putting them in their cases. Techs and crew members moved across the stage, unplugging amps, speakers, mics, boards and lights; wrapping cords and rolling up rugs (Dan always had huge Native American rugs on the stage.) Then the rumbling of road cases on wheels began and everything was stowed in its particular case, which would then rumble even louder on its way to the equipment truck. Once everything was loaded up, the crew boarded the bus which would take them to the next city in time to set up the next concert. 

    If there were fans waiting when Dan and the road manager came out the back door, Dan would usually pose for a few photos and sign autographs before getting in the car. He never minded signing memorabilia for the fans, but he didn’t like giving autographs to the people who bought albums in thrift stores and then sold them, signed, to the fans for exorbitant prices. 

    There were some nights when Dan was just too exhausted and hungry to hang with the fans, and that was hard for me to watch. Their faces lit up when he came through the door and they would call his name and hold out things to be signed, and he would walk right past them, eyes downcast, and get in the car. For a compulsive people pleaser like me, it was heart breaking to see the disappointment on their faces. 

    When this happened it was usually after a full day of airports and travel, checking in, unpacking, sound checks, showering and dressing, getting to the venue, conferring with the road manager or crew, and giving his all on stage for two hours. Then he’d do it all again the next day, and the next. At some point, especially as he got older, he just had to keep some energy in reserve or risk picking up a cold or flu and not being able to perform at all.

    Most of the fans understood, though. They’d yell “We love you, Dan!,” even after he’d walked right past them and disappeared into the limo.

    Wound up, sweaty and exhausted, he would sip an Absolute vodka on the rocks while the car made its way past concert goers headed to their cars. Seeing the limo pass, they would smile and wave at the tinted windows and shout, “Thanks, Dan,” and “We love you Dan!” Looking out at their happy faces, lit by the parking lot floodlights, I could see why Dan always said he had the best fans in the world. 

    Coming of age in bar bands, I’d seen my share of staggering drunks, violent brawls and complete lack of regard for the entertainment. Nothing like that ever happened at Dan’s shows. The audience hung on his every note, sang along, applauded, called out requests, and did everything they could to get him to play just one more song.

    I intervened with a fan only once. We were in a Lake Tahoe hotel the morning after a concert at Caesar’s Tahoe and Dan was exhausted, with nineteen gigs behind him and five to go. Some friends were in town, including Austrian speed skier Franz Weber, and we’d had a late night of food, laughter, and Schnapps. Many shots of Schnapps. We were traveling to Konocti Resort in Kelseyville that day, so we rose early. There was no room service at the hotel, so after we’d dressed and packed, we headed downstairs, desperate for steaming caffeine. 

    Dan put on his dark Wayfarer sunglasses and a baseball cap, and we went down to the restaurant, looking like hell and trying to be as inconspicuous as possible. We were seated at a table in the middle of the room and, after placing our orders, we sat quietly, cringing at the clatter of dishes and willing Dan’s coffee, and my tea, to arrive.

    The fan was sitting behind Dan, in a booth with her husband, and she had obviously been waiting there in case Dan showed up. Now she slid out of the booth, clutching a Sharpie and an LP or tee shirt (I can’t remember which) to her chest. She approached our table and, with a trembling voice, said Hi to Dan and told him how much she loved his music and could she get his autograph? 

    She was a timid lamb, poking a lion with a thorn in his hangover. My heart went out to her as I waited to see how he would react.

    Dan’s head slowly fell forward and the bill of his cap made a soft thunk on the table. It was so Monty Python, I would have laughed in any other circumstances. The woman and I looked at each other, then back at Dan. When it was apparent he wasn’t coming back up, I smiled apologetically at her and said, “He hasn’t had his coffee yet.” She nodded miserably and returned to the booth and sat down.

    Our breakfast arrived and, a second cup of coffee and two Advil later, Dan was beginning to feel human again. The fan was still in the booth, so I asked him, if I went and got the memorabilia from her, if he would sign it. He looked at me and, for a moment, I wondered if I’d crossed a line. But then he sighed and nodded. Knowing his fans as I do now, she probably forgave him for being cranky that morning, and treasures her hard-won autograph. I hope so.

    We registered at each hotel under Dan’s pseudonym, Hayden Frothmark. When he came up with the phony travel name, during a cappuccino break at the ranch, we were very pleased with it. Unbeknownst to us, though, “th” is a consonant sound unique to the English language, and our fictitious surname proved difficult for foreign hotel staff. It was my job to order breakfast and late night meals on the road. I would dial room service and a chipper and accommodating voice would answer, “Hello Mr. Fro...Frot…h…mark, how can I help you?” We’d managed to come up with a name that was even harder than Fogelberg.

    Hotel rooms were our home away from home, but some were more of a sanctuary than others. I had never lived in a big city, so the traffic, horns, and sirens seemed loud to me, but they were twice as loud to Dan. He was used to living in the mountains, where distant bugling elks and howling coyotes were the only sounds breaking the silence. 

    Normally, the hotels would want to give Dan a room with the best city or water views. Janet, his travel agent, always told them to give him an interior room instead, away from the elevators; anything to reduce the noise. So, while our rooms were gorgeous, our views were, preferably, brick walls, gravel and asphalt roofs, or the windows of other courtyard rooms.

    After getting our keys from the front desk, the first thing we did was to conduct room reconnaissance. While Dan headed to the windows, I went to the bathroom, to check out the tub and floor space. If the room overlooked a noisy street or, heaven forbid, a highway, a call would be made to the road manager or front desk, new keys programmed, and our luggage re-routed.

    Some hotels only had exterior rooms, though, and even with Dan’s earplugs and a pillow over his head, the traffic noise led to tossing and turning and the increasing fear that he wasn’t going to get the rest he needed. When this happened, he would take the cushions off of the couch and line them up on the bathroom floor (hence, my checking the floor space.) Then he’d take his pillow, and a spare blanket from the closet, and shut himself up in his makeshift cave. Thankfully, this usually worked.

    The next day, a written schedule told us what time we had to be in the car for the airport. Flights wouldn’t wait, so mornings involved timely room service, and gentle prodding (from me, the compulsive rule-follower) to get Dan out the door and down to the lobby where the road manager would be waiting for us.

    By mid-afternoon he’d usually be his chipper self, but even if he was tired and cranky, by showtime that night he would be focused and ready.  If I was a little sleep deprived myself, a hot bath while sipping a cold Coke always revived me (hence, the tub.) Off we’d go, the next morning, and all would be smooth sailing until the next noisy hotel room.

    Sometimes we’d be checking out a new room, and his song, Heart Hotels would start playing in my head. “Well, there’s too many windows, in this old hotel…”

Heart Hotels
00:00 / 04:15

    On July 16th, during the 2000 Summer Tour, Dan played the Warfield Theater in San Francisco and I finally got to meet his college friend, Suzy Drell. Dan had shared stories with me about their Champaign days: about how she had cooked him buttered noodles at all hours and shared some acid-fueled hallucinations with him. Like the time they were ordering food from a curly-haired woman at a fast food counter when, suddenly, her hair turned into snakes and they ran out the door.

    We had lunch with Suzy and then she rode in the limo with us to the theater. After the concert she came back with us to the Ritz Carlton Hotel and the three of us settled into a couple of couches in the luxurious lounge. I was tired, and I also thought they could use some time to themselves to catch up, so I went up to bed. 

    After I left, Suzy told Dan she liked me. She had been friends with him through Donna and both marriages, and said it was a relief to finally see him in a relationship “with no drama.” He said he was concerned he might go through a mid-life crisis one day, like many of his friends were doing, and leave me for a younger woman. He told her I was a good person and he didn’t want to hurt me.

    I heard about this conversation from Dan and, later on, Suzy. Just like their hallucinations, their stories matched, and I can picture it like I was there. With her wild mane of blonde curls and those big blue eyes she leaned forward with a listen to me you idiot look on her face and told him that any 20-something babe who got with him in his 50s or 60s would be after one thing - his money - and he’d be a fool to leave me for that. And besides, he wasn’t like his friends. This seemed to help quash Dan’s fears, and I’ve loved her ever since.


    After San Francisco, we had a break before the Fall 2000 tour started on September 15th at the Westbury Music Fair in New York. During the break, we got prescriptions for Ambien. We’d been hearing about the sleep aid for years, but both of us had tried many prescription and holistic drugs to get to sleep, without much effect, so we didn’t expect a lot from the tiny little pills.

    On September 28th, Dan played the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida. Our hotel room was a suite overlooking palm trees and a sandy beach. It was so beautiful, we didn’t have the heart to change, and we thought the sound of the waves might lull us to sleep. That night, as a noisy party on the beach below our room went late into the night, we took the Ambien.

    Figuring it would be a while before it kicked in, Dan organized his suitcase in the sitting area while I sat in bed reading. Opposite the bed was a wide mirror over a chest of drawers. Reflected in the mirror was the right side the bed and a bedside table with a large lamp. I had draped an orange sarong, with a green and purple bird of paradise print, over the lamp shade for ambience. 

    I’d been reading for maybe 15 minutes when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw some movement to my right. Since Dan was still in the sitting area on my left, it gave me a slight jolt. I looked up from my book and in the mirror I saw the back of a large, round-shouldered clown, wearing a bright orange suit with green and purple stripes. He was swaying back and forth slightly as he leaned over the bedside table on Dan’s side of the bed. It was simultaneously creepy and intriguing. I gave a long, airy, “Woh.” 

    “What?” Dan asked, thinking I’d read something interesting. When I didn’t answer, he looked at me. I was just staring at the mirror, enthralled. “What?” he repeated. I pointed at the clown in the mirror and he came and sat next to me on the bed. “See?” I asked. “See what?” he said, looking for anything out of place where I was pointing. 

    “The clown,” I said. He looked into my eyes. “You’re tripping,” he said. Born in 1955, I always felt I’d missed out on the psychedelic 60s. Now I gave him a big smile and whispered, “Really? Awesome!” He shook his head and laughed.

    The drug was making him sleepy, so he left off packing and got into bed. He warned me that he was going to turn the clown off. I set the book on my bedside table and laid down, leaving my own lamp on. We said our good nights and for the next half hour I watched the live drawings that covered the textured ceiling, as they silently gestured to each other.

    This became our Ambien routine - the drug had Dan asleep within twenty minutes, which is about how long it took for me to start tripping. For the first time in my life I was fighting sleep, not wanting to miss the show.

    The tour ended on October 7th and a few weeks later, we flew to Maine. Speaking of clowns, there was a little shop on the island, called The Clown, that carried fine wines as well as Italian pastas, spreads, oils, sauces, and Tuscan pottery.  Standing at the small checkout counter with a bottle of wine one day, we noticed they had crusty bread cut into cubes next to a bowl of gold/green olive oil. We both cooked with olive oil but didn’t really consider it an appetizer. One taste of that rich buttery oil was all it took though - we bought a bottle and returned a few weeks later for another, and had a case sent to the ranch.

    Kyle and Martin, the couple who owned the shop, were world travelers who owned an ancient stone villa surrounded by olive groves in Chianti, the famous wine region in Tuscany. The olive oil we liked so much was pressed from their own olives, and the wines and pottery in the shop were hand-picked by them from the surrounding towns. What a life - it sounded idyllic. They spent years restoring the old villa, and when they were in Maine it was a vacation rental. Dan was instantly interested; he had dreamed of going back to Italy for a long time. By the time we returned to Colorado, they had exchanged phone numbers and we had a list of available dates.


    While the snow piled up outside, Dan sat on the couch next to the fire with Fodor’s Florence, Tuscany and Umbria guide, and travel magazines featuring articles about the best Italian restaurants. He subscribed to Wine Spectator magazine, and the issues with articles about Italian wines joined the dogeared stack of research materials. He was having a wonderful time, researching and planning, and at some point he decided we should start in France. More magazines joined the stack. Now and then he’d show me a photo, or read me part of an article, his eyes shining with excitement, and I’d tell him it all sounded wonderful. 

    We had a beautiful Christmas and rang in the New Year at the ranch with some of our closest friends. Then, Dan went back to his research. As soon as he got the dates for the Summer Tour 2001, which would start in July, he had the first of many long phone calls with Janet. They discussed dates, flights, hotels, reservations and restaurant options for our European vacation. 

    In mid-May we would spend a week in Paris, visiting the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and Eiffel Tower, eating fabulous food, and shopping for clothes. After that, we would eat pasta all day and wander the streets, museums, and cathedrals of Venice and Florence. From there, we would rent a car and drive to the villa in Chianti, which would be our base for two weeks, while we explored Tuscany and the surrounding towns and countryside.

    It all sounded too wonderful to be possible. But, then, every day felt like that. We were experiencing enough conflict in our relationship to know it was real, but the rest was bliss. Dan was learning that he could approach me with a domestic grievance and it wouldn’t end in shouting, and slammed doors. His friends said they’d never seen him looking so relaxed and happy. My friends saw a new contentment and confidence in me. They loved him for the way he treated me: with a tenderness and affection I’d never known before. 

    As our trust and faith in each other grew, a bond developed that would become stronger with each new road that life led us down.


Posted September 19th. 2020 Copyright ©Jean Fogelberg 2020