My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Spotlight Artist: Dan Seals

Danny Wayland Seals was born in Texas in 1948 as a member of a very musical family. His father was not a professional musician, but had performed with Bob Wills and Ernest Tubb. Elder brother Jim was a member of successful soft rock duo Seals & Crofts, who were big stars in the 1970s. Cousins included country star Johnny Duncan and songwriter Troy Seals, and a generation later, another cousin, Brady Seals was to become lead singer of the successful group Little Texas. Young Dan grew up exposed to both the country music his father loved, but as a teenager was influenced strongly by the music of the Beatles, which led to the nickname (and later stage name) ‘England Dan’.

The young Dan followed in his brother’s footsteps by teaming up with a high school classmate to form the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley. They released a number of albums together, with their greatest success coming with the single ‘I’d Really Love To see You Tonight’, a mellow ballad which topped the Adult Contemporary chart and reached #2 pop. Reba McEntire covered the song in 1978, as a B-side to one of her early singles, an early indicator of Dan’s potential as a country artist (although he did not write the song).

Going solo in 1980 was not an immediate success, and Dan lost his home and most of the money he had made as a pop star in a battle with the IRS over unpaid back taxes. It was then that he moved sideways into country music, signing to Capitol Records in 1983, and working with producer Kyle Lehning. His style retained many elements of his pop past, with an emphasis on gentle ballads, but either his own inclinations or Lehning’s meant that his music was generally less heavily produced than his pop-country contemporaries, and he maintained his success well into the period when the neotraditional movement was sweeping away the worst excesses of the 80s. Dan released some excellent singles through the 1980s, and was rewarded with a run of 16 successive top 10 country hits, including a particularly hot streak with nine straight #1s.

His career slowed down markedly in the 1990s. A move to Warner Brothers failed to reignite it, but he reinvented himself artistically by recording acoustic takes on some of his big hits, and continued to work touring. He died prematurely of cancer on March 25, 2009. In his last years he had been making music with his brother Jim, but a planned album was never completed.

We plan to cover the highlights of the career of a man whose crossover from pop to country respected the genre, and who created some timeless music.

11 responses to “Spotlight Artist: Dan Seals

  1. Ben Foster August 1, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Interesting choice. I don’t have a whole lot of familiarity with Seals’ music other than my love for “Meet Me In Montana” coupled with my guilty-pleasure enjoyment of “Bop,” but I look forward to reading up on him. The Spotlight Artists are getting harder and harder to predict these days!

  2. Andrew Leprich August 1, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    “Everything that Glitters (Is Not Gold)” and “Big Wheels in the Moonlight” are both wonderful songs. Unfortunately, I’m not too familiar with Seals’ music other than a handful of songs, so this month should be very educational for me.

  3. luckyoldsun August 2, 2012 at 12:30 am

    Several of Seals’ hits are definitely catchy (though nothing else matches “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight”)–
    But he had a bit of a wimpy, whiny quality to his voice and delivery that would make extensive listening to him quite tedious.
    By the time you get to “Bop,” we’ll be ready to bop ourselves over the head with a hammer, I’m sure.

    • John August 2, 2012 at 8:08 am

      Wow… I’ve never heard anyone describe Dan’s voice as anything but vibrant and strong. I could listen to his great variety of songs all day. He was a terrific talent with a sincere and caring approach.

  4. Ken Johnson August 2, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Dan had a most expressive voice that worked well with both pop/light rock recordings (with John Ford Coley) and country songs. Ballads with acoustic arrangements were the best showcases for his style. “God Must Be A Cowboy.” “Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)” and “One Friend” are career standouts. He was one of the nicest most down-to-earth stars that I’ve ever met. Sad that he passed so young,

    TRIVIA: Dan was of the few left-handed guitar players in country music!

    Anyone looking for a comprehensive single CD with the original hit versions of ALL of Dan’s country hits, “The Very Best Of Dan Seals” (Varese Sarabande 302 067 087 2) has 18 singles originally released on Liberty, EMI America, Curb/Capitol and Capitol from 1983-1990. Great audio qualty.

    http://www.amazon.com/Very-Best-Dan-Seals/dp/B004WJRJMW

  5. J.R. Journey August 2, 2012 at 12:52 pm

    Reba’s cover of “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” was B-side to a duet with Jacky Ward called “Three Sheets In The Wind”. When “Sheets” went to #20 in 1978 it became Reba’s first top 40 country hit. She now holds the female chart record with 87 top 40 entries, 58 of which went top 10, and 25 #1s. But it was a cover of England Dan and John Ford Coley’s biggest hit that kickstarted her chart success.

  6. Leeann Ward August 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    I am a fan of Dan Seals for sure. I have been since I first started listening to country music. Aside from his big hits, particularly “Everything that Glitters”, I like a song called “We Are One.” It speaks to my inner hippie-ness, I guess.:)

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