Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Dan Fogelberg

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 [1].” 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 [2], 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 [3]. 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.

[1] See, for example:


[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Innocent_Age

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Fogelberg

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dan_Fogelberg_discography

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in History, Music History, Musings and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Why Aren’t They In The Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame: Dan Fogelberg

  1. Pat Parins says:

    The Man in the Mirror…He Keeps Getting Clearer.
    You Better Make a Stand While You Still Can

  2. H S Moore says:

    Excellent Article! Please join our Facebook Page: Put Dan Fogelberg in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

    • I will join your page. Thanks for noticing and appreciating the article, and I would thank also those who brought his exclusion to my attention.

      • H S Moore says:

        People seem to always try to say Dan did not care about awards but in turn he did it all for the love of music! He deserves this honor and for future generations to know who he was

      • Whether or not the man himself cared about awards and what not, it is important for us to recognize what is of the most lasting importance and the highest quality. We honor others so that we may be recognized as honorable people, and so that we may encourage others to pay attention to what we honor :).

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  4. Lisa says:

    I love what you wrote here. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame needs to stand up and take notice. Other then the Beatles, Dan Fogelberg is the greatest Musician of his generation. Even if some of his later work was overlooked commercially it is some of the best work he ever did. He is widely cherished by his fans and still influencing future generations. The Rock and Roll Hall od Fame needs to step up and do the right thing.

  5. Lisa says:

    I am a member of the Dan Fogelberg Foundation. When he was about to die we all wrote him a message and his wife put it into books for him to read before he died. He heard from all his fans. He has made a lasting impression on his fans because he got up close and personal with them. His music inspired me throughout my life and saved it a few times. I have met many artists through the years but none like him he was a special person. I saw him the one time in 1984 at the Nassau Coliseum in New York. His final song brought down the house. It took me 10 years to remember it was “Ghosts” That song is the most unique song I ever heard in my life. “Tucson Arizona” still makes me cry and “The River” tells my life story. I have written to “Future Rock Legends” who tracks the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s process. Check it out. Maybe they can help. I know I wont give up.

  6. Natasha says:

    Lonely in Love is enough to get in

    • As is An Innocent Age

      • Lisa says:

        Dan Fogelberg has a huge range of unique works of art from Part of The Plan, Sketches and Netherlands to Rock Classics, Power of Gold, Face the Fire, Pop classics from the Innocent Age, Windows and Walls and Exiles. Then the last three albums which were the most unique of all. And what about Ghosts!! He closed his 1984 concert at the Nassau Coliseum with it, it brought down the house. No one has ever written more about this country, it’s environment and it’s people more then Dan Fogelberg has. He said in an interview that he would eventually write about every region of America but died before he could.

      • That is a noble goal, and it’s a shame he didn’t live long enough to do it. I think with Dan Fogelberg that the full breadth of his work just isn’t understood by a lot of the RRHOF voters, who might know him only by his hits.

      • lisa says:

        Do you know if just anyone can nominate him like another artist, or do they have to be on the committee? I might have an idea of asking someone.

      • The nominating committee would have to choose him as among the top fifteen acts, and it would then go to the larger body of RRHOF voters to choose him as among the top 5 of the 15 nominated.

      • Lisa says:

        Is there a list of who they are? Or is it secret?

      • I have written about them as a body, and they are definitely a notable group of them, but I have never yet seen the list of them; I don’t know if it’s so much a matter of the list being secret or simply a matter that most of us are not on a “need to know” basis.

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  9. Kirk Brammer says:

    He should also be on the Songwriters Hall Of Fame.

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  11. Jim says:

    I have been a serious Dan fan since 1974. I can’t fathom why he is not in the rock and roll HOF as well as the songwriters HOF. Undeniably worthy,

  12. Janice Lind says:

    Dan wrote and sang his songs with such passion and lyrical/musical genius. He was so far ahead of his time and such an old soul. We should all listen to his music again
    it’s almost chilling .
    Even Garth envied his ability of musical arrangements and was the first to sign up for the tribute album that Dan’s wife put together after 10 years.
    The musicians on his tribute album Vince and Amy, Garth and Trisha, the Eagles, Jimmy buffet,Donna Summer and the list goes on
    Really? Shame on whoever nominates the best

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