Friday night in the University Union Multipurpose Room, popular 70s country and folk rock singer John Ford Coley performed an hour and a half set in a sold-out cafe setting.
Coley has performed once before at Slippery Rock University, in 1978 at the peak of his career.
Coley may be better known as part of his duo ‘England Dan and John Ford Coley’, who were nominated for a Grammy for their #1 song in Japan, ‘Simone.’ Other notable songs were ‘I’d Really Love To See You Tonight’ and ‘Nights Are Forever Without You.’ The two were signed by A&M Records.
Coley’s career began in high school when he joined a band that his classmate Dan Seals, whose stage name is England Dan, had been already been in. They needed a new guitarist and Coley got the job.
“Dan and I didn’t get along. We clashed immediately, but then we would travel for different gigs and found out we could sing together. We had a natural blend. It just kind of took on a live form of its own.”
Although Coley had not joined a band until high school, his love for music has been present his whole life.
“My family was always involved in music in one way or another, mostly church. My dad played the violin and a little piano, my mom sang,” Coley said.
“When I was about six years old, I was at the barbershop and I flipped the footstool over and was pretending to play the piano so they gave me piano lessons.”
Coley never expected for music to be his career, but explained that it just kept coming back to him.
“The big peak was 1976 to 1980. We’d been touring around with all different kind of groups prior to that. Elton John took us to England with him in 1971.”
Almost 40 years later, Coley still regularly performs.
“I still do [perform a lot]. It’s ironic to me because it feels like I’m gone all the time. I’m always somewhere else. I’m never home and then when I am home for an extended period of time I get cabin fever. I enjoy traveling a lot.”
Coley gives thanks to his ancestors for his success and ability to travel.
“I’ve found that I’ve come by traveling very honestly. In 1666, my dutch ancestors came to Kingston, New York. In 1611 my English ancestors came to Jamestown. They kept going around until they ended up in Texas. I’m a sixth generation Texan. [My ancestors] were always gone. I look at it and say I’ve come by it honestly. The grass is always greener on the other side.”
Coley was once studying law and thought he would end up in a law firm or even go into medicine. He believes that if you do what you love, it will have a way of turning out.
“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that this would be a profession I would do. I always thought that I would grow up and do something else but God just has other plans sometimes,” Coley said.
Coley said it’s important for students not to stress and just find out your passion.
“You’ll find [what you want to do]. Don’t even worry about it. Don’t put that kind of pressure on yourself. Just do what you enjoy because I’ve seen so many people that absolutely hate what they’re doing and when they get out of college, life stops. Do something that makes you say ‘I can’t wait to get up.’ Be productive, regardless of what it is,” Coley encouraged.