Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 13 August 1951, Peoria IL; d 16 December 2007, Maine, of prostate cancer) US singer-songwriter. Learned piano, then acoustic slide guitar (a gift from his grandfather); studied painting at U. of Illinois but was spotted by Eagles manager Irving Azoff, dropped out and moved to Los Angleles. First LP Home Free produced in Nashville by Norbert Putnam, a typically polite country singer-songwriter debut; Souvenirs '74 was more rock-oriented and more distinctively his own (though aided by producer/guitarist Joe Walsh; his electric guitar playing still shows that infuence). The album included his first hit single 'Part Of The Plan' (no. 31); self-produced Captured Angel followed, and after a hectic 18-month period during which he sessioned for Randy Newman, Eric Andersen, Roger McGuinn, Jackson Browne and others he parted with his live backing band Fool's Gold (lineup Tom Kelly, bass; Denny Henson, guitar; Doug Livingston, guitar and keyboards, didn't play on LPs) and retreated to Colorado.
Nether Lands '77 was followed by duo with flautist Tim Weisberg Twin Sons Of Different Mothers '78, including single 'The Power Of Gold'. Increasingly tight compositions broke through with Phoenix '79: sold over 2m and had hits 'Longer' no. 2, 'Heart Hotels' no. 21, both '80. Song cycle The Innocent Age '81 with support including Emmylou Harris was his most impressive work to date, swimming against the musical tide for US top 20 singles 'Run For The Roses' (no. 18), 'Same Old Lang Syne', 'Hard To Say', 'Leader Of The Band' (all top ten): these hits spanned 18 months and kept the two-disc set in the charts for 62 weeks. Windows And Walls '84 (hit 'The Language Of Love'), bluegrass-flavoured High Country Snows '85 and Exiles '87 maintained a high standard from a near recluse who once cancelled several important live dates. Typed as a soft-rock balladeer, he actually did a lot of different things and matured at his own pace. Further albums included The Wild Places '90, Live--Greetings From The West '91, River Of Souls '93, Love Songs '95.