That ‘70s Concert John Ford Coley Among Trio Performing in Springfield

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The Spirit Newspaper

By Stephen Prudhomme

Along with England Dan Seals, John Ford Coley was one half of a popular musical duo in the 1970s and played with many iconic recording artists and groups. His music career has spanned nearly 50 years.

Later this month, he’ll add to his list of performances when he takes the stage at the Mars Theatre in Springfield.

Coley, Lenny LeBlanc and Bill Champlin are performing Saturday, April 22 at 7pm at the theatre as part of the Heart Behind the Music series, which started in 2011 and offers a platform for musical artists to relate the stories behind the songs they wrote and made famous.

For Coley, his most well-known songs came when he joined up with Dan Seals and formed the duo England Dan and John Ford Coley. The two met while attending high school in Dallas, Texas. Coley performed as a classical and rock pianist through high and college and majored in English Literature in college. He and Seals put out 11 albums during their 10 years togther and were nominated for a Grammy Award. Top hits include “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” “Nights Are Forever Without You,” and “Love Is The Answer.”

Coley and Seals disbanded in 1980, but that was hardly the end of the music for either one. While Seals went on to become a counry music star, Coley, continued to play his music to worldwide audiences. He recently recorded a live album and toured the Philippines and is going to the studio to record new material for an acoustic album.

Coley has shared the stage with Elton John, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Chicago, Carole King, Bread, Loggins and Messina, Led Zepplin, Carly Simon, Steve Miller Band, Randy Bachman, Jesse Colin Young, Air Supply, Ambrosia, Poco, Orleans, Lou Gramm and Gordon Lightfoot. He’s also appeared in a number of movies and TV shows.

Coley lives in Nashville with his family. His writing isn’t limited to music lyrics. He’s written a book on his years in the music industry entitled “Backstage Pass,” and is working on another book about his spiritual journey back to Christianity. He also speaks in churches about his experiences.

Another successful singer/songwriter from the ‘70s coming to Springfield is LeBlanc. He was part of the Muscle Shoals Music and recorded the hit “Falling” as one half of the duo LeBlanc & Carr.

LeBlanc was “saved” following a conversation with a friend and former fellow soldier in Vietnam and made the switch from pop to Christian music. The change did bring on some financial challenges, however.

LeBlanc lost nearly everything except his house and took up skilled carpentry and building and designing handmade furniture to supplement his income. He wrote the Dove Award winning “Above All and There is None Like You” and travels nationally and internationally as a Christian artist. His latest release, “Anthology,” features an acoustic collection of his most notable songs along with two new titles, “Unchained” and “Hope.”

Reflecting on his life and its twists and turns, LeBlanc says: “It’s amazing what God has done in my life.”

Bill Champlin has had a long musical odyssey as well.

A native of Oakland, Cal., Champlin grew up in a musical family and formed the Sons of Champlin in 1967. Fueled by Champlin’s songwriting talents, the group recorded seven albums before breaking up in 1977. Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead referred to them as the most talented of the San Francisco bands. Champlin worked as a session musician in Los Angeles for eight years. In 1982, he joined Chicago as a singer/keyboardist and remained with the iconic pop/jazz group for 28 years. His most recent release is a solo effort, “No Place Left To Fall.”

Drummer Billy Ward has been a Bill Champlin fan since the early 1970s and notes he has written and sung on over 400 songs. “His organ playing has him ranked on most peoples “A” list and he plays the heck out of the guitar as well,” Ward says. “He is one of the finest musicians I’ve ever gotten the privilege to play with.”

For further information, call (912) 754-1118 or go to mars theatre.com.