Remebering Richard Pryor and Dan Fogelberg

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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:

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This Learning center was once the high school that Dan and his brothers all attended. His father was a band instructor there. His father is the subject of”The leader of the Band’ one of his biggest hits.
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This very nondescript convenience store was actually the grocery store from ” Same Old Lang Syne” where Dan met his former girlfriend on Christmas Eve. He was visiting his parents over the Holidays and saw her there. They actually did purchase a six pack and drink it in her car. The entire song was actually exactly as it happened. Although he did change the name of his former flames husband’s occupation to protect her privacy. The street this is on runs by the former high school and was renamed “Dan Fogelberg Avenue”

 

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The city has a lovely memorial to Dan Fogelberg overlooking the river. His house was near this spot and he spent a lot of time gazing at the river while he wrote.

 

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The Stones feature lyrics to some of his most beloved songs. Since Mr. Fogleberg was cremated. These stones serve as a memorial were friends, family and fans can come pay their respect. 
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There’s also a park bench nearby. This place, in particular, was very dear to Fogelberg. He called it his “sacred space”

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.

 

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A statue of Richard Pryor doing what he did best. Speaking the truth and speaking it plain. 

 

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