Peoria Illinois honors their two most famous sons
When I was growing up, my brother and I both loved Dan Fogelberg’s music. I know we both nursed several broken teenaged hearts listening to his soothing voice and poignant lyrics. Most of his music was deeply autobiographical and his hometown of Peoria played a major role in several of them. I never heard much of Richard Pryor’s standup growing up although we did see several of his movies. It wasn’t until college that I got a chance to see his stand up film “Live on the Sunset strip that I got to truly understand the depth of his talent. He was one of the raw and honest in a way I had never seen anyone else ever be on stage. There was a humanity in him that transcends the frank and sometimes brutal language.
In many ways, Fogelberg would seem to share little in common with his fellow Peorian Richard Pryor. But in truth, they were both known as artists of integrity in their respective media and were immensely revered among their peers with a deeply devoted fan base.
Since his hometown played such a role in Dan Fogelberg’s most famous songs, I wanted to include a couple locations that played a part:
Richard Pryor’s memories of Peoria were bittersweet. He was born in a brothel and his mother was a prostitute who abandoned him at an early age. He dropped out of school and went into the army. He originally went into comedy to emulate one of his influences bill Cosby but found the middlebrow humor to be stifling. He began to take a more raw approach and found his voice. His comedy was naked, real and uncompromising. The city honored his memory with a statue and named a street in his honor. To exercise some of Pryor’s honesty, I wish the city had done more, but I am glad that he is acknowledged and acclaimed in his hometown.