“There seemed to be a loving little prayer
In their voices, even when they called him ‘Dad’
Though the man was never heard of anywhere,
As a hero, yet somehow understood
He was doing well his part and making good;
And you knew it, by the way his children had
Of saying ‘Father’“
This is an excerpt from “Father“, a poem written by Ella Wheeler Wilcox. These words are a tribute to her father during his funeral. Just like Wilcox, Dan Fogelberg also dedicates his song, “Leader of the Band” to his father, Lawrence Fogelberg.
Fathers are the first men in our lives. They are our best friends, a shoulder to cry on, a helper, a provider of everything we need, one of the best gifts sent from above.
Indeed, fathers are our angels who are worth dying and fighting for.
“Leader of the Band”
Released as a single at the end of 1981, “Leader of the Band” is a song written by Dan Fogelberg from his 1981 album The Innocent Age. The tribute song peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in March 1982. Following his 1980 hit “Longer”, it became Fogelberg’s second no. 1 song on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart. PS Read Willie Nelson’s Undying Memory of His Son Who Passed Away here.
A tribute to his father
“Leader of the Band” is one of Fogelberg’s most personal songs. It’s a tribute to his father, Lawrence Fogelberg, who was a band director. A musician and the leader of a band, Lawrence was still alive at the time the song was released. He died in August 1982, but not before this hit song made him a celebrity with numerous media interviews interested in him as its inspiration.
The senior Fogelberg began his musical journey directing high school bands in his home state of Illinois, first in Peoria and then at Pekin. He married Margaret Irvine, a talented singer who directed her sorority chorus, in 1946, and the couple had three children.
Dan was the youngest, born in 1951. By this time, his dad was the band director at Bradley University in Peoria, where the family lived. The band would play concerts and perform at basketball and football games.
Dan often told a story about his father letting him “conduct” the band when he was four years old, standing in front of his father with a baton while his dad did the job behind him.
“It was an amazing feeling. It felt both very magical and powerful. And I was fearless.”
The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I’m just a living legacy to the leader of the band
Watch and sing with “Leader of the Band” by Dan Fogelberg.
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Dan Fogelberg, Leader of the Band