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Sacramento Oracle

John Ford Coley Leaves Legacy Through Music

May 30, 2024 02:13PM ● By Annie Kerr

John Ford Coley belts out a hit at a previous show. Photo courtesy of John Ford Coley

SACRAMENTO, CA (MPG) – Any fan of ‘70s music will probably recognize the name John Ford Coley. Most commonly known as half of the Grammy-nominated duo England Dan & John Ford Coley, Coley has seen major success in the music industry, written and recorded many notable hits, shared the stage with musical legends and even had an acting career in the ‘80s.

In the ‘70s, England Dan & John Ford Coley released 11 albums and nine singles. Their most famous song, 1976’s “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight,” was a No. 2 pop hit and a No. 1 adult contemporary hit. In the span from 1976 to 1979, the duo had six Top 40 singles. Among their classic well-known hits are "Love Is the Answer,” "Nights Are Forever Without You,” "It's Sad to Belong,” and "We'll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again.”

In the heat of massive success, John Ford Coley poses for a photo in 1976. Courtesy photo

In advance of Coley’s June 7 performance at the Hard Rock Live Sacramento, Messenger Publishing Group interviewed Coley prior to his show. Coley is 75 years old but has a youthful presence that is palpable when he speaks and performs. Currently living in Nashville, Coley is still writing music and maintaining a busy touring schedule.

A Dallas, Texas native, Coley grew up surrounded by opera and classical music and referenced Bach and Beethoven as musical influences. At age six, Coley started playing music and later participated in classical music competitions. Other musical influences include Buffalo Springfield, Joni Mitchell, and early Elton John, whom he would later perform with.

When Coley was 15, he and longtime friend Danny Wayland “England Dan” Seals joined a band called Theze Few. That band scored a hit, “The Smell of Incense” in 1969, which put Coley and Seals on the map.

It wasn’t long until Coley and Seals broke away as a duo in the late ‘60s and the rest is history.

After being signed by A&M Records, they had their first breakout hit in 1971 with “Simone” and soon after were launched into stardom.

John Ford Coley plays both guitar and piano at his shows. Photo courtesy of John Ford Coley

Throughout the ‘70s, England Dan & John Ford Coley took advantage of their whirlwind success, touring with music superstar Elton John in 1971 and going on to share the stage with acts such as Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Led Zeppelin.

After the duo disbanded in 1980, Coley said an acting opportunity “fell in his lap” and he starred in multiple films throughout the ‘80s. He also proceeded to write a memoir, “Backstage Pass”, in 2010 detailing his experiences in the music industry.

Seals unfortunately died from lymphoma in 2009. Coley kept his legacy alive by playing their hits to audiences and continuing to write music of his own. “It keeps me excited,” he said about writing music and performing.

When asked what fans can expect from his shows, Coley said the shows can provide escapism and joy for his audiences.

“I hope that when they come, they have an enjoyable time and get away from divisive things like politics and religion, that they can go down memory lane. All these songs bring something up…good times, bad times, they make you remember people,” Coley said. “I hope when they leave, they can say that they laughed.”

Coley’s June 7 performance will include “laughs and jokes” but will also feature other artists such as Ambrosia, Al Stewart, and Peter Beckett. And of course, the hits from England Dan & John Ford Coley.

The show will be at 8 p.m. on June 7 at the Hard Rock Live Sacramento, located at 3317 Forty Mile Rd, Wheatland, CA. Snag your tickets to Coley’s show before they run out at