(1 of 2) Singer-songwriter JD Souther, known for his many songs recorded by the likes of The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and performing with everyone from Roy Orbison and Jackson Brown to Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor. (MICHAEL WILHOITE)
What: J.D. Souther in concert
If the name John David Souther — or J.D. Souther, as he prefers — sounds familiar but slightly elusive, it only takes a few song titles to bring the singer, songwriter and actor’s resume into clear focus.
Linda Ronstadt recorded 10 of his songs, including “Faithless Love,” and he co-wrote a string of hits with the Eagles, including “Best of My Love,” “Heartache Tonight” and “New Kid in Town.”
In the ‘70s, during early days of what is now known as the Southern California sound, Souther dated Ronstadt and, at one point, shared an apartment with Glenn Frey of the Eagles.
“Linda needed a band to go on the road with her, and Glenn and Don Henley needed a job, so they got everybody together and that backup band of Linda’s became the Eagles,” Souther said during a recent phone interview.
That alone would be enough for a book, but during his career, Souther also worked with Roy Orbison, Christopher Cross, Jackson Browne, Dan Fogleberg, Bonnie Raitt and James Taylor.
So naturally, when Souther does a solo show, the stories he tells can be as much fun as the songs he sings, and he’ll share both July 29 at the Mystic Theatre in Petaluma.
But don’t expect him to dish any dirt. Raised in Amarillo, Texas, and now living near Antioch, Tennessee, Souther remains a Southern gentleman.
“People have been after me for years to write my memoirs, some kind of tell-all book about the early Southern California days, and it’s just not in me to do that,” Souther said. “So I’ve written some short stories about some of my friends and some things that happened. There’s no weird sexual details, no name-calling, not a bad word for anybody.”
Beyond Souther’s current solo tour — which includes scattered dates around California and beyond through late fall — he plans to publish a book or two of poetry and start recording a new album. His eighth album, “Tenderness,” came out two years ago. Of his own recordings, one if his best-known is his 1979 single hit, “You’re Only Lonely.” He also was in the Souther Hillman Furay Band with Chris Hillman of the Byrds and Richie Furay of Buffalo Springfield.
At 71, Souther has no plans to retire. “People in my family tend to work until they drop. My father worked in retail sales until he was 82.”
Souther, who had roles in the TV series “Nashville” and “thirtysomething,” has no more acting jobs lined up at the moment, but he wouldn’t rule it out.
“If you’re going to have a job that you go to every day, they’re long days, but episodic television is a good job,” Souther said.
And that reminded him of a story about Glenn Frey’s 50th birthday at actor Tom Hanks’ house years ago. (Frey died at age 67 last year.)
Somebody was trying to start a debate about what was harder: acting or singing, Souther recalled.
“They were asking Hanks about acting and he said, ‘It’s easy if you can do it.’ That’s the perfect answer.”