Music

Remembering Dan Seals, Rock Star Turned '80s Country Hitmaker

Mark Humphrey/ AP

Born in McCamey, Texas in 1948, it was clear from the beginning that Danny Wayland Seals was meant for music. After all, his older brother Jim Seals was in the rock group Seals & Crofts, so he had music in his blood.

It was Jim who gave Dan the nickname "England Dan" as a child. Dan was an avid fan of the Beatles and would even use a British accent. It was also Jim's idea to use the childhood nickname as part of his first musical collaboration with John Ford Coley. 

Coley was a former high school classmate of Dan Seals. The two joined together in Dallas, forming the group Southwest F.O.B. ('Free On Board'). They eventually became England Dan & John Ford Coley and were signed by A&M Records in 1970. Unfortunately, they were dropped a couple of years later before being picked up by Big Tree Records. The duo had a few top 40 hits including their biggest success, "I'd Really Love to See You Tonight" which hit No. 2 on the charts. They had a solid career as a rock group before Seals decided it was time for a change. England Dan and John Ford Coley officially disbanded in 1980 and Seals made the decision to reinvent himself as a solo artist. A country singer to be exact.

Seals signed with Capitol Records in 1983 and moved to Nashville to record country music. Though it was a slow start for Seals to get used to the country scene, his career started to pick up with "God Must Be a Cowboy" on his 1984 album, Rebel Heart. This is where everything really turned around and lead to 16 consecutive top 10 country hits for Seals that lasted until 1990.

One notable hit in 1985 came from his duet with Marie Osmond, "Meet Me in Montana," which was followed by eight chart topping hits. His duet with Osmond also earned the Vocal Duo of the Year Award at the CMAs. Other No. 1 hits in the '80s included "You Still Move Me," "I Will Be There," "Three Time Loser," "Addicted," and "Love on Arrival." "Addicted" performed so well it even helped the songwriter, Cheryl Wheeler, get her own record deal with Capitol. In 1986, Seals released "Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)." The song, penned by Seals and Bob McDill, follows a heartbroken single dad raising his daughter on the rodeo circuit and is one of Seals' most beloved hits.

Seals' last number one hit was a cover of "Good Times" by Sam Cooke in the early '90s. He continued touring through the '90s, releasing a few more albums with smaller labels. His last album, Make It Home, was released in 2002. 

Seals spent the better part of the 2000's touring with his brother Jim under the name Seals & Seals. Their group included Jim's two sons with set lists covering everything from Seals solo career to England Dan and John Ford Coley and Seals & Crofts. 

The country singer lost his battle to cancer in 2009. But we'll continue to look back on his career fondly and remember his strong country songs like "Big Wheels in the Moonlight," "Bop" and "My Baby's Got Good Timing."

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Remembering Dan Seals, Rock Star Turned '80s Country Hitmaker