Leader Of The Band

Album: The Innocent Age (1981)
Charted: 9


  • This is one of Fogelberg's most personal songs. It's a tribute to his father, Lawrence Fogelberg, who was a band director.

    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," Dan recounted. "It felt both very magical and powerful. And I was fearless."
  • Fogelberg recorded this for his 1979 album Phoenix, but felt it was too sentimental for the album and didn't release it until 1981 on The Innocent Age. His father died the following year.
  • When Fogelberg wrote this song, he didn't hear it as a hit, but the song expressed something that many children have trouble articulating: a love for their father. The intimacy of the song actually broadened its appeal, and it became one of his most enduring songs and one that fans would often mention to him as one they connected with.
  • The line, "Thank you for the freedom when it came my time to go," is a reference to Fogelberg dropping out of college. He attended the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, but decided to leave in the middle of a semester to pursue music - not what most parents want to hear. Fogelberg's father was disappointed, but supported his son's decision, telling Dan to try it for a year. The music thing worked out well: Dan drove to Los Angeles, got a record deal, and became one of the top-selling solo artists of the '70s.
  • The song concludes with part of a performance by the UCLA Band of the John Philip Sousa march "The Washington Post" arranged by Fogelberg's father.

Comments: 9

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 28th 1982, "Leader of the Band" by Dan Fogelberg peaked at #9 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on November 22nd, 1981 at position #81 and spent 20 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on January 31st it reached #1 (for 2 weeks) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart (also peaked at #1 on the Canadian Adult Contemporary chart)...
    Was his third in a string of three straight records to make the Top 10; started with "Same Old Lang Syne" (#9), then "Hard To Say" (#7), and finally his one...
    R.I.P Mr. Fogelberg (1951 - 2007).
  • Brett from Piketon, OhThis song reminds me of my dad. He used to always play this song when I was young. He played it over and over when his dad passed away. I get very emotional when I hear this song for a lot of reasons. Great song.
  • Smiley from Harrisonburg, VaAs I choke back the tears I think of my dad, a musician who taught me to play. He died last June 1st, I played the guitar softly as he slipped further. He gained enough strength to play a song with me and died two days later. He was always the leader of the band, I guess because they practiced at the house, he did most of the singing, front man, supplied most of the equipment, hauled it, set it up, tore it down. I helped, later played drums in his band. He taught me bass, then guitar. I'm 60, he died at 83. Dad I didn't say "I love you" enough. GOD I MISS HIM! What a GREAT song, thank you.
  • Jeff from Beverly Hills, Ma"My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man." What a wonderful lyric.
  • Nancy Hopper from Crothersville, InI am the only child my Father had. Even though I am a female this songs fits both my Father and I. He was also a Cabinet maker and the last vacation he ever took was to come to Colorado. He tried to raise me like a boy, showing me how to make wooden hammer handles and doing carpentry work.
  • Jeff from Boston, MaThis is probably the greatest love song of all time that isn't about sexual love. I think a lot of men especially can relate to the feeling that we struggle to be half the man our father is. When you add the fact that fathers and sons often have difficulty expressing their feelings for each other, a song like this has an amazing ability to evoke those emotions.
  • Melanie from Martin, TnI haven't almost been a fan...I have been a fan for YEARS. Dan was one of the major musicians of my college years. There isn't a song more poignant to me than Leader of the Band. Dan was sheer brilliance.
  • Mary from Yuma, AzI've almost been a fan of Dan Fogelberg. But I noticed he wasn't all that popular until after his death. This site had two of his songs on, now there are several. It's a shame a great artist isn't recognized until he's gone.
    We love you Dan!
  • Mixermatt from Bloomington, MnFogelberg was great in the songs that he did
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