While walking with his wife one night on Lookout Mountain Avenue in California’s Laurel Canyon area, famed rock photographer Henry Diltz “heard the most beautiful piano music coming from a little house that was right across the street” from his.
“In that place, music just hangs in the air,” says Diltz.
He didn’t know it then, but he was about to meet folk singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg. It was the mid-’70s, right around the time Fogelberg’s Souvenirs, one of 20 albums — many of them platinum or gold sellers — he released in his career, was due for release.
“He had come to town to do the album, and on his list of things to do, I guess, he wanted to get Henry Diltz to do his album cover,” says Diltz. “One day (actually, the day after Diltz’s walk with his wife), there was some girl watering flowers, and (Dan) came over and said, ‘Hi, I’m Dan Fogelberg.’ And she said, ‘I’m Elizabeth Diltz.’ And he said, ‘You’re not Henry’s wife, are you?’”
So began a long-lasting friendship between Diltz and Fogelberg, who died Dec. 16, 2007, in his home in Maine at the age of 56, after battling prostate cancer. Fogelberg’s music had an effect on Fridays Music owner and music-business veteran Joe Reagoso.
“Dan Fogelberg was the consummate artist: Beautiful melodies, heartfelt lyrics, first-rate musicianship, powerful vocals, plus songs that have truly stood the test of time,” says Reagoso, who worked for Fogelberg’s manager, Irving Azoff, when he was a promotions man for MCA in the ‘80s. “He will be sorely missed. Most of the world will continue to recognize his biggest hits, like ‘Leader Of The Band’ and ‘Longer,’ but the deeper fans remember his masterwork ‘Netherlands’ and his un-forgettable tunes like ‘Make Love Stay,’ ‘Same Old Lang Syne,’ ‘As The Raven Flies,’ ‘Sketches’ and ‘Dancing Shoes.’ God bless Dan.”
While the softly spun, acoustic-folk honey Fogelberg produced was winning the hearts and minds of ‘70s and ‘80s soft-rock listeners, Diltz and Fogelberg grew close. For years, Diltz would annually trek to Fogelberg’s ranch in the Colorado Rockies.
“It had stables and a chicken coop. It looked like a Russian church — I even think it had a minaret,” says Diltz.
Ultimately, Diltz says Fogelberg was a modern-day Renaissance man.
“Not many people know this, but he was an excellent painter and a very good photographer.”
And he was a gourmet cook, who also loved skiing and sailing.
Unlike most rock stars, Fogelberg avoided the limelight. Often, Diltz recalls, Fogelberg would play a concert, and then, instead of signing autographs or meeting with fans afterward, he would gather his friends and take them out to dinner. Fogelberg enjoyed his solitude.
“He enjoyed his fan base, but he didn’t want to stay around and lap up praise,” says Diltz. “He was not a recluse, but he did like to stay in his own environment.”
Born in Peoria, Ill., the son of a musician father, Fogelberg took to music early. In the early ‘60s, he was exposed to rock ‘n’ roll and performers like Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins and Little Richard, and later, The Beatles. In his teens, he fell in love with the folk-rock of The Byrds and the Buffalo Springfield, but music wasn’t his first calling. He attended the University of Illinois at Champaign a