J. D. Souther

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JD Souther
JD Souther.JPG
Born John David Souther
(1945-11-02) November 2, 1945 (age 70)
Detroit, Michigan, U.S.
Occupation musician, singer-songwriter, actor
Years active 1970s–present
Website www.jdsouther.net
Musical career
Genres Rock, country
Labels Elektra
Associated acts Eagles, Jackson Browne, Longbranch Pennywhistle, Judee Sill, James Taylor, Danny Kortchmar, Linda Ronstadt, Souther-Hillman-Furay Band, Joe Walsh

John David Souther (born November 2, 1945), commonly abbreviated as JD Souther, is an American musician, singer-songwriter, and actor. He has written and co-written numerous hit songs recorded by artists such as Linda Ronstadt and the Eagles.

Music career[edit]

Souther was born in Detroit, Michigan, and raised in Amarillo, Texas. As a musician and songwriter, he was greatly influenced in his formative years by fellow Texas rock and roll icon, Roy Orbison. After moving to Los Angeles, California, in the late 1960s, he met fellow Detroit musician and songwriter, Glenn Frey, and the two became roommates and musical collaborators; their downstairs neighbor was Jackson Browne with whom both Souther and Frey would collaborate on numerous projects.

Shortly after meeting, Souther and Frey formed a folk duo called Longbranch Pennywhistle. Their lone album, released in 1970 on Jimmy Bowen's Amos Records, featured significant contributions from guitarists James Burton and Ry Cooder, fiddler Doug Kershaw, drummer Jim Gordon, pianist Larry Knechtel and bassist Joe Osborn.

After recording an eponymous solo album in 1972, persuaded by David Geffen, Souther teamed up with Chris Hillman and Richie Furay to form the Souther Hillman Furay Band. The group released two albums, but creative tensions and lack of record sales (not to mention Furay's discomfort with playing secular music following his conversion to Christianity) led to the band's demise.

Souther is probably best known for his songwriting abilities, especially in the field of country rock. He co-wrote some of the biggest hits for the Eagles, including "Best of My Love", "Victim of Love", "Heartache Tonight", and "New Kid in Town". "How Long", which appears on the Eagles' Long Road Out of Eden, was written by Souther and originally recorded on his first solo album in 1972.

He wrote "Run Like a Thief" which appeared on Home Plate by Bonnie Raitt in 1975.

Souther briefly dated Linda Ronstadt, co-produced her Don't Cry Now album, and wrote songs for several of her multi-platinum albums, including "Faithless Love" from Heart Like a Wheel and "White Rhythm and Blues" on Living in the USA. Souther also recorded several duets with Ronstadt, including "Hasten Down the Wind," "Prisoner in Disguise," "Sometimes You Can't Win", and "Hearts Against the Wind" which was featured in the 1980 film Urban Cowboy.

Souther has also contributed as a singer to works written by other artists, including backing vocals with Don Henley on "The Light Is On" for Christopher Cross on his eponymous debut album; on the songs "False Faces" and "Loose Ends" on the late Dan Fogelberg's 1976 LP Nether Lands; and, with Fogelberg, on "The Hot Damn Brothers" on Fogelberg's 1975 LP Captured Angel.

He scored his biggest career hit with the 1979 song "You're Only Lonely", from the album of the same name, which reached number 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and held the #1 spot on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart for five consecutive weeks. A collaboration with his old friend James Taylor called "Her Town Too" (from Taylor's platinum-certified Dad Loves His Work album) reached #11 on the Hot 100 and went Top Five on AC radio in 1981.

In 1987, he contributed, performed, and did the vocal arrangements for the Roy Orbison and Friends, A Black and White Night concert and video, sang The Platters' "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" in Steven Spielberg's 1989 film Always, and wrote the theme song to the 1989-1992 sitcom Anything But Love.

He wrote the song "Wishing on Another Lucky Star", featured on the soundtrack of the movie Permanent Record.

Souther co-wrote "Doin' Time For Bein' Young", a song performed by James Intveld for the soundtrack of the 1990 Johnny Depp movie Cry-Baby.

On October 14, 2008, Souther released If the World Was You, his first new release in 25 years. In the fall of 2009, he released a follow up live album entitled Rain - Live at the Belcourt Theatre, featuring a blend of old and new material.

On May 31, 2011, Souther released Natural History, featuring new versions of many of his hit songs originally recorded by other artists. The album features Chris Walters on piano and continues Souther's foray into jazz-influenced music.

On October 9, 2012, he released Midnight in Tokyo, an EP that was recorded live and captures a live performance from Japan featuring Souther backed by Chris Walters (piano), Jeff Coffin (saxophone), and Alana Rocklin (bass). The disc includes four songs from If the World Was You and two covers.

On June 14, 2013, Souther was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City.

Acting career[edit]

As an actor, he has played several roles, including the character of John Dunaway in the (1989–1990) third season of the television drama Thirtysomething and Ted in the film Postcards from the Edge (1990). He also performs in the audiobook genre including the Jimmy Buffett sequel to Tales from Margaritaville, A Salty Piece of Land.

He played Jesse James in the television movie Purgatory in 1999. He was also Jeffrey Pommeroy in My Girl 2. Souther also appears in the 2012 mystery thriller Deadline, playing the father of Matt Harper (Steve Talley). He appears in the recurring role of country songwriter and producer Watty White in writer Callie Khouri's drama series Nashville, which premiered on ABC in October 2012.

Personal life[edit]

Souther was born in 1945. He has been married twice, dated Linda Ronstadt and Stevie Nicks in the 1970s and is now single. Judee Sill's song "Jesus Was a Crossmaker" was written for Souther, who she says broke her heart after a short affair.[1] In December 2002, Souther moved from the Hollywood Hills, California, to Nashville, Tennessee. He continues to write, record, and tour.



Year Album Chart Positions Label
1972 John David Souther 206 Asylum
1976 Black Rose 85
1979 You're Only Lonely 41 68 Columbia
1984 Home by Dawn 203 Warner Bros.
2008 If the World Was You Slow Curve
2011 Natural History Entertainment One Music
2012 Midnight in Tokyo Entertainment One Music
2015 Tenderness Sony Masterworks
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


Year Single Peak chart positions Album
US Country CAN AC CAN CAN Country
1979 "You're Only Lonely" 1 7 60 2 18 12 You're Only Lonely
1980 "White Rhythm and Blues" 46 105
1984 "Go Ahead and Rain" 104 Home by Dawn
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Guest singles[edit]

Year Single Artist Peak chart positions Album
1981 "Her Town Too" James Taylor 5 11 5 19 Dad Loves His Work
1982 "Sometimes You Just Can't Win" Linda Ronstadt 27 Get Closer
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

20 Songs[edit]

In addition to his public releases, there also exists a promotional/not-for-sale CD, 20 Songs, which showcases Souther's writing and performing talents. In addition to Souther, artists represented on the CD include the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, Don Henley, Bonnie Raitt, George Strait and James Taylor.


  1. ^ "LISTEN: Judee Sill Radio 4 Documentary". The Quietus. Retrieved January 21, 2015. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2011). Top Pop Singles 1955–2010. Record Research, Inc. p. 837. ISBN 0-89820-188-8. 

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