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Dan Fogelberg; Soft-Rock Star Penned 'Same Old Lang Syne'

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By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 17, 2007

Dan Fogelberg, 56, a singer and songwriter who was known for soft-rock hits including "Leader of the Band" and "Same Old Lang Syne," died yesterday at his home on the coast of Maine. He had prostate cancer.

A statement on his Web site said that his wife, Jean, was at his side.

Fogelberg wrote "Leader of the Band" in tribute to his father, Lawrence Fogelberg, a musician and bandleader.

"Same Old Lang Syne," a hit in the early 1980s that became a holiday classic, was inspired by his own life, he said. He was in his 20s and visiting his family in Peoria, Ill., where he was born. At a convenience store there, he said, he encountered by chance a former girlfriend.

The song, which shows aspects of the narrative style that characterized a good deal of his work, described that meeting.

In a more general sense, observers of the music scene saw in his work the influence of a variety of styles and traditions, including pop, folk, classical, jazz and bluegrass.

A musical inheritance was only one of the pillars of Mr. Fogelberg's career. Another was what seemed to be a congenital affinity for the stage.

"I've been performing in front of audiences since I was 12," he once said. "It's like breathing to me."

He attended the University of Illinois, was discovered while playing in a coffeehouse and began as a session musician.

His album "Souvenirs" was issued in 1974. It included "Part of the Plan," a song credited with making him a star.

Mr. Fogelberg toured widely, performing at least once at Carnegie Hall and frequently at Washington area venues. He was described in The Washington Post as projecting an image of ruggedness blended with sensitivity. He was known as a skilled pianist and guitarist and a singer of ballads who was no stranger to sentiment or soul-searching.

In addition to living in Maine, he had a home in Colorado, and he was known for his commitment to the environment.

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