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SEALS, DAN WAYLAND [ENGLAND DAN]

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SEALS, DAN WAYLAND [ENGLAND DAN] (1948–2009). Danny Wayland Seals, pop and country star, was born in McCamey, Texas, on February 8, 1948. He was the son of Eugene Wayland and Susan Louella (Taylor) Seals. He grew up in a musical family and played in the family band as a small child. His father, an oil company pipe fitter and repairman and an accomplished musician, played with such Texas luminaries as Bob Wills, Ernest Tubb, and Jim Reeves. He taught Dan to play upright bass and guitar. Dan’s older brother, Jim, played saxophone with the Champs, who had a 1958 hit with “Tequila,” and Jim teamed up with Dash Crofts to form the pop duo Seals & Crofts in the 1970s. Dan’s brother Eddie was a country singer (half of the Eddie & Joe duo), while cousin Johnny Duncan had several country hits. Another two cousins, Troy and Chuck Seals, were successful award-winning songwriters, and a third cousin, Brady Seals, was a member of Little Texas.

After his parents divorced, Dan Seals lived with his mother, and they settled in Dallas in 1958. In high school he played in a group called The Playboys Five. He then joined his high school friend John Ford Coley as members of the group Southwest F.O.B., which had a minor hit with “The Smell of Incense” (1968). In 1969 Seals and Coley went to California where they became England Dan (the “England” nickname was a childhood name given by Jim Seals and came from Dan’s occasional affectation of an English accent and his love of the Beatles) and John Ford Coley (his last name was actually Colley). They signed with A&M Records in 1970, and their early albums England Dan and John Ford Coley and Fables generated modest sales. They toured the U.K. with Elton John and later toured in America, opening for acts including Carole King, Chicago, and Three Dog Night.

In 1972 A&M dropped the duo. They signed with Big Tree Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic, in 1976. England Dan and John Ford Coley scored a number of hits in the mid-to-late 1970s. Their recording of “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” reached Number 2 on the Billboard pop charts and earned them a gold record in 1976. They had Top 40 hits from 1976 to 1979—“Nights Are Forever Without You” (1976), “It’s Sad to Belong,” and “Gone Too Far” (1977), “We’ll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again” (1978), and “Love Is the Answer” (1979), written by Todd Rundgren.

Their albums released during this period included Nights Are Forever (1976), which went gold, I Hear the Music (1976), Dowdy Ferry Road (1977), Some Things Don’t Come Easy and Dr. Heckle & Mr. Jive (1978), and The Best of England Dan and John Ford Coley (1979). Their song “Part of Me, Part of You" was heard on the soundtrack of the movie Just Tell Me You Love Me (1980).

In 1980 Seals and Coley disbanded. Initially, Dan Seals aimed for the pop market and as England Dan cut his first album Stones (1980). His first solo single “Late at Night” from the album made the US Hot 100, but the next couple of years were not good for Dan Seals. In 1981 he had tax problems, which resulted in the IRS seizing virtually all his assets, and in 1982 he cut an unsuccessful pop album, Harbinger. Singles released from that album failed to make the charts.

Seals then looked to country music, adapting his performing style to suit the current direction and needs of country music radio. In 1983 he joined the Capitol Records roster of country recording artists. His first album for Capitol was Rebel Heart (1983), and this proved a more successful project than his two previous albums. His first single “Everybody’s Dream Girl” entered the country Top 20, reaching Number 18. This was followed by “After You” and "You Really Go for the Heart,” both of which made the Top 40. The fourth single from the album, “God Must Be a Cowboy” was his first Top 10 solo hit in 1984. The album was also his first to make the country charts.

His follow-up album, San Antone (1984), also entered the country charts, and “(You Bring Out) the Wild Side of Me,” the first single from the album, reached Number 9 in the country singles Top 10. This was followed by “My Baby’s Got Good Timing” which hit Number 2 in the country charts. In 1985 the album’s third single, “My Old Yellow Car” became a Top 10 country single.

In 1985 he released Won’t Be Blue Anymore, his most successful to that date. It topped the country album charts and earned gold certification. His duet with Marie Osmond, “Meet Me in Montana” (1985) was a Number 1 hit. The Paul Davis song earned Seals and Osmond the Country Music Association’s Vocal Duo of the Year award in 1986. The next single off the album, “Bop,” a Paul Davis-Jennifer Kimball composition, was his first solo Number 1, earning him the CMA’s Single of the Year award in 1986 followed by “Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)” which Seals co-wrote with Texas songwriter Bob McDill.

The 1986 album, On the Front Line, produced three Number 1 singles in 1987–“You Still Move Me,” “I Will Be There,” and “Three Time Loser.” The compilation album, The Best, released in 1987, included all of Seals’s top hits plus “One Friend” that had been included on San Antone and was re-recorded for this album. The Best was certified platinum.

Rage On was released in 1988 and produced another Number 1 for Seals with “Addicted,” followed by “Big Wheels in the Moonlight,” his ninth consecutive Number 1. His eighth album, On Arrival (1990), had another Number 1 with “Love on Arrival” followed by his last Number 1 hit with his cover version of Sam Cooke’s “Good Times,” which was also to be his last Top 40 hit. Nevertheless, Seals had accomplished a remarkable run of eleven Number 1 singles from 1985 to 1990.

In 1991 Dan Seals joined the Warner Brothers label, and his album Walking the Wire yielded five singles, three of which, “Sweet Little Shoe,” “Mason Dixon Line,” and “When Love Comes Around the Bend,” made the charts. Dan Seals spent the following years touring and releasing albums, including Fired Up (1994), his last for Warner Brothers. He joined the Intersound label and cut In A Quiet Room in 1995, which comprised acoustic versions of earlier hits. In A Quiet Room II was released on the TDC label in 1998 followed with Make It Home in 2002.

Dan Seals toured with his brother, former Seals & Crofts member Jim Seals, in 2003 and performed on the Grand Ole Opry as Seals and Seals. In March 2009 Dan Seals succumbed to mantle cell lymphoma at his daughter’s home in Nashville on March 25, 2009. At the time of his death, Dan and Jim were working on an album which they planned to release in 2009.

Dan Seals had been a member of the Baha’i faith since 1969 and traveled as a soloist with the Voices of Baha'i choir in the 1990s, visiting Thailand, India, Canada, and many European countries. He was married twice. He was survived by his wife Andrea and was the father of three sons and a daughter.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Gary James, “Interview With John Ford Coley” (http://www.classicbands.com/JohnFordColeyInterview.html), accessed July 13, 2010. Paul Kingsbury, ed., The Encyclopedia of Country Music: The Ultimate Guide to the Music (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). New York Times, March 27, 2009. Norm N. Nite and Ralph M. Newman, Rock On Vol. II, The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock N’ Roll–The Modern Years: 1964–Present (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1978). Remembering Dan Seals (http://www.bahai.us/2009/04/03/remembering-dan-seals-2/), accessed November 22, 2011. Seals and Seals (http://www.sealsandcrofts.com/sealsandseals.html), accessed November 22, 2011.

Tony Wilson

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Handbook of Texas Online, Tony Wilson, "Seals, Dan Wayland [England Dan]," accessed October 17, 2017, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fse37.

Uploaded on May 6, 2015. Modified on November 1, 2015. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.