John Ford Coley - my time with England Dan


John Ford Coley's rise, fall and rise again

John Ford Coley is an American singer, guitarist, classically trained pianist, actor, and author. He is most revered as half of the Grammy nominated duo, England Dan and John Ford Coley. John has created many memorable hits such as: “Love Is The Answer”, “Gone Too Far”, “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight”, “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again”, “Nights Are Forever Without You”, and “Sad To Belong”.

Born in Dallas, Texas, John grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry and early rock and roll music. He also grew up singing church hymns and learning to play classical piano. When he was just 16 years old, he and schoolmate Dan Seals, joined the group Theze Few. Later, the band became Southwest F.O.B. and toured the Texas music scene. They had one hit in 1969, “The Smell of Incense”, which hit number 43 on the charts – and soon the band got to play on stage with Led Zeppelin and other acts.

The formation of England Dan and John Ford Coley

Later becoming England Dan & John Ford Coley, the duo was signed by A&M Records, and their first break came in 1972 with the song “Simone”. After three albums they were released from their contract with A&M only to acquire another record deal from Atlantic Records’ subsidiary Big Tree Records two years later. They released the song “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” and had four top ten hits and two top-twenty hits. Nominated for a Grammy Award, they received triple-platinum and gold records and released eight albums before disbanding in 1980.

Love to See You Tonight

The duo's split

John Ford Coley formed another group – Leslie, Kelly and John Ford Coley (with sisters Leslie and Kelly Bulkin). John also acted in a few films in the 1980s, and wrote songs for television and film. He performed with artists including Ambrosia, Three Dog Night, Lou Gramm (of Foreigner), Christopher Cross, Poco, Stephen Bishop, Al Stewart, and Edgar Winter.

What became of Dan Seals?

Meanwhile, Dan Seals as he was known formally and as he later re-established himself as a country artist in the 1980s, came from what, by anyone’s definition, could be considered a musical family. Born in McCamey, TX, in 1948, he was the son of E.W. “Waylon” Seals, a pipe fitter and repairman for Shell Oil who also played guitar and bass. Dan learned to play upright bass at age four and soon after, he was playing in the family band founded by his father. His older brother, Jim Seals, enjoyed a considerable career of his own as a member of the Champs from 1958 through the mid-’60s. His other brother is successful country musician Eddie Seals (of Eddie & Joe), while his cousins included composers Chuck Seals (author of “Crazy Arms”) and Troy Seals (who later married rock & roll singer Jo Ann Campbell), Brady Seals (of Little Texas), and country singer Johnny Duncan. Sadly, Dan passed away in 2009.

In 1999, Joh Ford Coley moved to Tennessee as he loved the Nashville music community. Today, he still loves music and performing on stages around the world. Check out my interview with him here. He’s not only a wonderful musician, he’s a terrific raconteur!

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