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Souther, J.D. (2nd November 1945-Present)

Detroit-born, Texas-raised singer-songwriter who was instrumental in the formation of The Eagles, even though he respectfully declined membership in the group.

In the late 1960s, Souther moved to L.A. and met another aspiring musician named Glenn Frey. (At one time, the two of them shared an apartment and Jackson Browne was living in the flat below.) In 1969, Souther’s then-girlfriend Linda Ronstadt was just embarking on a solo career and needed a backing band. He encouraged Glenn Frey, along with Don Henley, Bernie Laudon, and Randy Meiser, to go on the road with her and they eventually became The Eagles.

Souther released his self-titled solo debut in 1972, to critical, but not commercial, acclaim. He was approached by David Geffen and asked to join forces with Richie Furay and Chris Hillman to form the Souther Hillman Furay Band. Souther hated it. He did not like being part of a group, and this seemed to justify his earlier decision not to join The Eagles. Creative differences seemed to outnumber record sales. Born-again Christian Furay was uncomfortable playing “secular” music. By his own admission, Souther may have consciously sabotaged the group with his own hostility, and he soon found himself on his own again, which was right where he wanted to be in the first place.

Solo success eluded him until 1979, when he hit the top ten with the title track of You’re Only Lonely. It was heavily influenced by his boyhood idol Roy Orbison, whose style he tried to emulate. In 1981 he sang the backing vocals on Jimmy Buffett’s “It’s My Job” on his Coconut Telegraph album and in 1988, in a dream come true, Souther arranged the backing vocals for his hero, Roy Orbison, at the Black & White Night Concert in L.A. It was a group that including Jackson Browne, k.d. lang, Bonnie Raitt, and Jennifer Warnes. Although Orbison was Souther’s inspiration as a kid growing up in Amarillo, Texas, he cites Luciano Pavarotti as his favourite singer.

A songwriter at heart, his wide array of influences includes Harold Arlen, Bob Dylan, George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Hank Williams. His most famous songs are ones he penned with The Eagles, including “Best Of My Love”, “Heartache Tonight” and “New Kid In Town”. Another hit, “Faithless Love”, has been covered by Glen Campbell, Linda Ronstadt, and Bernadette Peters.

For someone so seemingly content to stay out of the limelight, Souther acted in the television programme thirtysomething and has appeared in the films AlwaysMy Girl 2Postcards From The Edge, and Purgatory, a TNT original movie, as Jesse James.

He moved from Hollywood Hills to Nashville in 2002 where he lives with his wife and step-daughter. A new CD was released, followed by a tour of Great Britain. His material is also slated to appear on upcoming solo efforts from Eagles alumni Don Henley and Joe Walsh.

Linda Ronstadt and John David Souther recordings
Sometimes You Just Can’t Win (Smokey Stover)