1971 - Dan Fogelberg                               Home

                                             The Leader of the Band

     When I was in 4th grade my mom decided I should take piano lessons. After about a month of that my teacher told my mom that I should try playing drums. She took me downtown and bought me a drum set.

We lived on the 9 hole golf course (Pekin Country Club) where my dad was the greenskeeper and golf professional. When I used to practice you could hear it on the fourth hole and up by the pro shop. Some of the members used to kid me about it and asked me if I was another Gene Krupa. I had never heard of him and really never heard him play until I saw him on TV many years later. More about that in the Buddy Rich encounter.

I began to take lessons from James Keith who was the band director at Washington Junior High School in Pekin. I was attending St. Joseph's grade school which had no band. I would go to band practice in the morning before school at Washington and then walk down the street to St Joseph. I became the drummer of the dance band called “The Melody Makers” which was painted on my bass drum and remained on my set for many years before I got another set. I took lessons from a red head named Jerry Ripper who had a local reputation as a fabulous drummer.

When I was in 6th grade I began playing in public with the band. The only song I remember is 'Mr Sandman' which was sung by a girl named Lanae, who married my older brother Jack in the 60's.

When I got to Pekin Community High School in 1959 my band director was a man named Larry Fogelberg. I played in the dance band my freshman year. I also played on the freshman-sophomore basketball team which meant I would play in the game and then rush up to play in the band for the varsity game. This caused some problems with Mr. Fogelberg as I think he wanted me to concentrate on music. Eventually I quit the band and concentrated on sports.

In 1971 I was in my hippie phase as I had dropped out in 68 to protest the war. I was living in a three bedroom house in Urbana, Illinois with Richard and his girlfriend Nancy, Tommy (Vic's little half brother), and Bruce and his girlfriend Spike who lived in the basement. I had washed dishes at a restaurant in Urbana for awhile before getting my current job at a car wash. Tommy and I had lived together after leaving the commune I had moved into when I arrived back from California in Sept 68. We lived on the other side of campus in Champaign for a year or so before moving to where we were now. Tommy was only 18 or so and heavy into drugs. I had dropped acid a few times and smoked pot when it was available but wouldn't go out of my way to do it. If the people around me hadn't been offering it to me I wouldn't have went looking for it. Tommy was into music heavily also and one night he asked me if I wanted to go to a local coffee house to hear a young guitar player who he thought was pretty good. I found out his name was Fogelberg and I decided to go check him out. I wondered if he could be Larry's son but I didn't pursue it and never told Tommy about it either. It wasn't until Dan came out with the hit "Leader of the Band" about his father that I was sure.

Lyrics to “The Leader of the Band”

An only child
Alone and wild
A cabinet makers son
His hands were meant
For different work
And his heart was known
To none --
He left his home
And went his lone
And solitary way
And he gave to me
A gift I know I never
Can repay

A quiet man of music

Denied a simpler fate
He tried to be a soldier once
But his music  wouldn't wait
He earned his love
Through discipline
A thundering, velvet hand
His gentle means of sculpting souls
Took me years to understand.

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.

My brothers lives were
For they heard another call
One went to chicago
And the other to st. paul
And I'm in colorado
When I'm not in some hotel
Living out this life I've chose
And come to know so well.

I thank you for the music
And your stories of the road
I thank you for the freedom
When it came my time to go --
I thank you for the kindness
And the times when you got tough
And, pap, I don't think i
Said i love you near enough --

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
I am the living legacy
To the leader of the band.