Perry Jordan Singer, Songwriter, Guitarist in Heartsfield Passes at 62.

Posted 01 Jul 2011 in Music + TV News

Maureen O’ Donnell – Chicago Sun-Times

As a member of the band Heartsfield, guitarist Perry Jordan opened for some of the biggest names in the music business. He streaked naked at a gig with Jimmy Buffett and had his heart broken a little by Stephen Stills. He rescued numerous stray dogs — and one wolf.

He kept his rock ’n’ roll attitude to the end of his life.

Just five days before he died, Mr. Jordan, who had been in declining health since a heart attack a year ago, urged a hospice nurse: “Kiss me.”

Mr. Jordan, 62, of Midlothian, died Wednesday at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights.

He’d been a founding member and a principal songwriter for the country-rockers dubbed the “Sweethearts of Lincoln Avenue” in their 1970s heyday. Heartsfield released four albums before disbanding — and hit 95 on the Billboard chart with the 1974 single “Music Eyes” — but never quite broke through with that one big record.

But Heartsfield performed on thousands of dates all across the country. Some called the group the “Midwest Kings of Country Rock,” or the “Grateful Dead of the Midwest” for its long jams. The band toured with top acts including Eric Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, the Doobie Brothers, the Charlie Daniels Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Waylon Jennings, Molly Hatchet, the Marshall Tucker Band, Kiss and .38 Special.

“We got to play for some pretty big crowds and we never had that hit-hit record,” said Mr. Jordan’s friend, Fred “Dobbs” Dobrinski. “We were like a Triple A [team] — we just didn’t get to ‘The Show.’ ”

But the band built an intensely loyal following with its ringing guitars and six-part harmony. Erik Hage of All Music Guide said Heartsfield is credited with influencing Phish and the Dave Matthews Band.

About 13 years ago, Mr. Jordan went to a record re-release in St. Louis — a strong Heartsfield fan base — and the lines were around the block, said his friend Steve Eddington.

Mr. Jordan returned to Chicago and uttered the words that have given rise to movies and other assorted drama: “I’m getting the band back together.”

After auditioning more than 80 people, he did, said Dick Reck, Mr. Jordan’s business partner. The new incarnation of Heartsfield — which includes Eddington and original Heartsfield member Dobrinski — does concerts, fairs and festivals. It is scheduled to play at Naperville’s Ribfest on Sunday.

Mr. Jordan attended Eisenhower High School in Blue Island. He used to invite friends to a room at his Crestwood home — dubbed the “Flower Tower” — to listen to music. They soaked in the 1960s sounds from Haight-Ashbury, the San Francisco intersection that was the epicenter of hippie life.

“I’ll never forget when he played, the same evening, Crosby, Stills [and] Nash, and Poco,” said Dobrinski. “The light went on.”

Mr. Jordan and fellow guitarist J.C. Hartsfield formed the band in the early 1970s. The lineup included Artie Baldacci, Greg Biela and Phil Lucafo. With their soaring harmonies and guitar-driven, country-tinged sound, “Heartsfield was the Eagles, before the Eagles were the Eagles,” said Reck.

Band lore has it that Mr. Jordan found a nude pro quo way to repay Jimmy Buffett for streaking naked at a Heartsfield show.

“Perry streaked across the stage at a Buffett show,” Dobrinski said.

Mr. Jordan admired the songwriting and singing of Stephen Stills, but their encounter on the road was probably a letdown, friends said.

“He finally gets to meet his hero, and they’re just done playing and he runs into Stephen Stills,” said Scott Bonshire, a member of the re-formed Heartsfield, “and he says, ‘You are my idol. You are the reason I’m playing — I love your lyrics.’ And Stephen Stills just looks at him and says. . . . ‘Get away from me.’ ”

Still, Mr. Jordan said he was glad he got to meet him.

"Heartsfield" 1973

He had three rescued dogs — the most recent one was a stray from Hurricane Katrina — and he also adopted a wolf at an Indiana sanctuary.

He had an ear-to-ear grin when he performed onstage, and “these German blue eyes,” Reck said. “I’ve laughed every day since I’ve known him.”

He was the kind of guy who would always miss highway exits — he was too busy laughing and talking to pay attention.

Chicago rocker Jim Peterik called Mr. Jordan “an American original — equal parts cowboy and hippie. His spirit was so infectious. . . . He’d walk in a room and say, ‘Hey, Darlings.’ ’’ They co-wrote a song, “Lost in a Daze Dream,” on Heartsfield’s latest CD, “Here I Am.” Peterik is a founding member of the Ides of March and Survivor.

He stayed on good terms with three ex-wives, Reck said, and is survived by his daughters, Jessica and Aurora; his son, Jason, and his longtime partner, Shannon Silva.

A celebration of his life is being planned in about a month’s time, Reck said. Details will be on heartsfield.com.

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Thank you for reading about Perry’s life, we ask you to please check out on of  Perry’s passions. The previously mentioned love for dogs. A special fund has been set up in Perry’s memory.  If  you decide to do anything in Perry’s memory, he’d love it to be a donation to this wonderful site. It’s called the Perry Jordan “Rescue The Dog” Fund.  

“Rescue the Dog Fund” (at Rainbow Bridge)

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Please check out the videos below. The first is a medley of the newer Heartsfield playing WGN television in 2009. The second is the audio track for one of Perry’s best songs, “Racin’ the Sun.” I’ve put this on my site and attached these videos so all can see the true being that is Perry.

Posted by Larry Carta

3 Comments

  1. coachmaddog (05 Jul 2011, 10:26)
    Reply

    Not a fan of that type of music, but he seems like he was a good guy. RIP

  2. Mac (16 Jul 2011, 13:02)
    Reply

    Was a loyal fan in the day, and also followed the band in recent years!

    Will share two memories: Was in the crowd one night in the 70’s when Heartsfield played the Rafters (central Wisconsin) – rough and tumble joint in the woods! The place was jammin’ with kids from all parts – things got wild and chairs started flying! …and the band played on!! 🙂 Shared the story with Perry (between sets in Madison more recently) – he smiled and said , “of all the gigs we’ve played, I do remember that night!”

    Second memory – the smile that was pasted on my face (all night long!), when I was reconnected to Heartsfield at the Club Tavern in Madison, some three decades later! They were on fire, and tight as a drum – thought for a moment I was a teenager again!

    Thanks for the music, Perry!!

    …Mac

  3. Tina Mulinaro (30 Oct 2011, 11:50)
    Reply

    My uncle grew up with J.C.Hartsfield and was turned onto them while in junior high. I have 4 signed albums, my favorite being ‘Wonderful Of It All”. The beauty of music is that it moves you and can emotionally carry you back to people, places and things. I never stopped listening to Heartsfield and once was old enough to go see them found myself in awe of in the lyrics, the vocals, the harmonizing the sheer raw talent of the band. I was just as captured.



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