From my childhood I have been fond of the music of Dan Fogelberg, particularly his melancholic songs about family or romantic relationships like “Leader Of The Band” and “Same Old Lang Syne .” That said, I was not familiar with the late musician’s massive popularity in the album charts, or the size and stylistic variety of his body of work. Taken as a whole, when you consider the fact that his songs have endured, that his influence, including his ability to raise the profile of other musicians in genres as diverse as bluegrass and jazz, is massive, and that his albums were immensely successful, and that his singer-songwriter style was smooth and showed a talent in conveying the stories of others in a relatable fashion, it is surprising that Dan Fogelberg is not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame while many lesser artists of his time have been so honored. As I was not aware of the disparity between Fogelberg’s full body of work until I was prompted to look into the matter by a fellow fan of his, I thought it appropriate to make amends for the oversight by drawing the attention of others to the worthy career of Dan Fogelberg.
The Influence Of Dan Fogelberg
Although it is clear that Dan Fogelberg was influenced by his father, the eponymous “Leader Of The Band,” honored by having one of his own band performances interpolated into his son’s homage , Dan Fogelberg himself had a strong influence on the success of others. A large part of that influence was in collaboration, whether it meant two collaborative albums (one of which went platinum) with jazz flautist Tim Weisberg, whether it meant his tours with friends like Joe Vitale and Rick Rosas from the mid-80’s, whether it meant working with stellar supporting musicians like saxophonist Michael Brecker (on “Same Old Lang Syne”), or whether it meant recording a gold-selling bluegrass album with the likes of Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Doc Watson, Jerry Douglas, David Grisman, Chris Hillman, and Herb Pederson. His ability to successfully collaborate and to create successful albums in many fields with many other musicians, all while writing effective and evocative songs, is remarkable and underrated, and worthy of far more attention than it has received so far.
Why Dan Fogelberg Deserves To Be In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
There are a wide variety of reasons why Dan Fogelberg deserves to be in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. First, let us look at his excellence in diverse genres, showing impressive musical range and quality. Fogelberg released albums in genres as diverse as folk rock, contemporary bluegrass, jazz, Memphis-inspired rock, besides the singer-songwriter sound he was best known for . This sort of diversity demonstrates a wide range of artistic talent, even genius. His genius for collaboration has already been mentioned—he worked well with others and brought the best out of those he worked with, likely a result of his skilled session work in Nashville early in his career. Then there is the success of his albums, of which five have gone multi-platinum, three (including one of his jazz collaborations with Tim Weisberg) have gone platinum, and another two albums of his went gold. All in all, every album he released from 1972 to 1985 has shipped at least 500,000 units, a remarkable streak of success. This is not to even mention his songs, some of which remain classics in heavy rotation on the radio—“Longer,” “Same Old Lang Syne,” and “Leader Of The Band,” all of which were top ten hits. In addition to these standards, he had four top tens on the Hot 100 charts and an additional seven top 40 hits. Four of his songs were #1 hits on the Adult Contemporary chart, and he had notable chart success in Canada as well. As a package, this is an immensely worthy resume for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Why Dan Fogelberg Isn’t In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame
I’m not sure why he isn’t in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame. Did his many collaborations or his wide range go unnoticed? About the only thing that would make sense is that Fogelberg is being saddled with a bad reputation for being too much a “soft rock” musician for songs like “Longer” and his four hits from his album The Innocent Age, so much so that his jazz, bluegrass, folk, and harder rock efforts are forgotten, despite the fact that they were also musically and commercially successful. Fogelberg was certainly no “one-trick pony” when it came to his musical career. Even his main record label recognized the many facets of his work by dividing it into four discs on one of his many retrospectives: “ballads,” “rock and roll,” “tales and travels,” and “hits,” showing his wide variety of genres. If Sony Records can see it, surely the nominating committee of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame can see it too. Other than a lawsuit that was filed against him by a former collaborator over their unsuccessful reunion album and tour, and the fact that he was married three times during his lifetime but had few relationships in general, it is hard to think of too many people that are hostile towards him.
Verdict: It’s long past time to put the late Dan Fogelberg in, but his three widows would be able to celebrate the recognition of his successful career, at any rate.
 See, for example: