England Dan and John Ford Coley were an American pop and soft rock duo. They reached the peak of their success when they scored six Top 40 hits in 1976 and 1979: “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” “Nights Are Forever Without You,” “It’s Sad To Belong,” “Gone Too Far,” “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again” and “Love Is The Answer.” They disbanded in 1980, and they went on to their separate careers. England Dan – now known as Dan Seals – turned into a successful country singer and musician. Coley branched out his talents not only in singing and collaborating with other groups but also in acting, writing songs for movies and TV, and co-producing other acts. He also resumed touring actively in the mid1990s. Seals died in 2009, aged 61; he was the younger brother of Jim Seals, one-half of another soft-rock act Seals and Crofts.
From high school classmates to hitmakers
England Dan and John Ford Coley were an American pop and soft rock duo consisting of Danny Wayland Seals (England Dan) and John Edward Colley (John Ford Coley) who were high school classmates in Dallas, Texas. Danny Seals was the younger brother of Jim Seals, one of another soft rock duo Seals and Crofts.
In the late 1960s, they embarked together on a musical foray as members of Southwest F. O. B., a Dallas pop group. They played a mix of rock and R&B and as a result, they became really popular in Dallas. They eventually were signed to soul-dominated Stax/Volt subsidiary Hip Records. One of their earliest hits was “The Smell of Incense.”
Then the two men, who had begun to write songs together, formed their own acoustic act. Originally as Colley and Wayland, they renamed themselves as England Dan and John Ford Coley.
England Dan and John Ford Coley signed to A&M Records in 1970. Under that label, the duo released three albums: England Dan & John Ford Coley (1971), Fables (1972) and I Hear The Music (1976) without much success. As a result, they were dropped by A&M. But it didn’t dampen the resolve of the duo who still soldiered on.
They were signed to Atlantic Record’s Big Tree subsidiary, and released their fourth LP Nights Are Forever in 1976. This time, the break that they were waiting for finally arrived.
Nights Are Forever was a hit, peaking at #17 on the Billboard 200, eventually going gold. The reason of the album’s success was the single “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” written by Parker McGee. It reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and topped the adult contemporary singles chart. The album’s second single “Nights Are Forever Without You,” also written by McGee, just made it to the Hot 100’s top 10 singles chart, and peaked at #6 on the adult contemporary singles chart.
By then England Dan and John Ford Coley were becoming popular, whether through singles played on the radio or on their tours. Although England Dan and John Ford Coley never had another hit as big as “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight,” they continued to sell a lot of records and score decent hits. Interestingly, all of their bigger hits were written by composers other than themselves.
Such notable hits include “It’s Sad To Belong” (#21 pop, #1 adult contemporary), “Gone Too Far” (#23 pop, #8 adult contemporary), “We’ll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again” (#9 pop, #1 adult contemporary), and their last Top Ten pop hit “Love Is The Answer.” These hits were written or cowritten by Randy Goodman, Jeffrey Comanor, Todd Rundgren, Willie Wilcox and Roger Powell, though “Gone Too Far” was written by Coley.
However, with the new genres such as disco and punk rock, the duo’s melodic pop rock was beginning to fall out of favor, and the duo split in 1980.
England Dan reverted to his real name Dan Seals, and re-invented himself as a successful country musician in the 1980s, scoring several Top 10 country smashes, and these include eleven chart-toppers, seven of them consecutive ones “Bop” (also a #42 pop item), “I Will Be There,” “Three Time Loser,” “You Still Love Me,” “Addicted,” “One Friend” and “Big Wheels In The Moonlight.” He died in 2009 of a type of lymphoma.
Coley made another career as an actor, appearing in several films and television productions. He has also served as a record producer and has done some active touring.