Dan Reynolds: Mormon Musician
Daniel Coulter "Dan" Reynolds is a musician and the frontman for the rock band Imagine Dragons. He was born in Las Vegas, Nevada, on 14 July 1987. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and, like many members of the Church, he earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He is one of nine children born to Christene M and Ronald Reynolds. He and his eight siblings were required to take piano lessons until age 16. At one time, each of them also played in a band.
Dan wrote the song "I Bet My Life," the lead single from Imagine Dragons’ second studio album, Smoke + Mirrors, to celebrate the bond he has with his parents. The album was released in 2015 and was nominated for the Teen Choice Award for Choice Rock Song.
Although Imagine Dragons, the pop-rock quintet, which includes three former Brigham Young University (BYU) students and an American Fork, Utah, native is based in Las Vegas, Nevada, it has its origins in Provo, Utah, where Dan was attending BYU. He formed the band with Wayne Sermon and Andrew Tolman. In 2008, the band won the Battle of the Bands competition at BYU and the Utah Valley University’s Got Talent competition. Dan later dropped out of college to pursue music as a career, and Imagine Dragons gained momentum as a lounge act in Las Vegas. Speaking with metro.co.uk about why he dropped out of college, he said:
- I wasn’t happy or interested in my course. Music was the only thing I’d done since I was 12 that I really loved and I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. It was a difficult decision. The last thing you want to tell your parents is ‘I’m dropping out of college to be in a rock band.’ My older brothers were doctors and lawyers and I’d be the first musician, which my mother found unsettling.
Imagine Dragons' Early Beginnings
The band’s big break came when the group Train’s front man fell sick prior to the 2010 Bite of Las Vegas Festival and Imagine Dragons stepped in, singing to a crowd of more than 26,000.
Dan has struggled most of his life with depression and ADD and anxiety issues. He explained to AbsolutePunk that he wrote the lyrics to the song "Radioactive" after "coming out of a pretty serious spell of depression and having a new awakening and a real vigor for life." He continued, "In truth, the song is about becoming self-empowered and saying, 'I’m happy with who I am, happy with the choices I’m making.' It’s about sweating off all the dust and grime of self-doubt and judgment, and embracing who you are."
"Radioactive" was the most-streamed song in the United States during 2013 on Spotify and spent 24 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Rock Airplay chart, breaking the record for the longest reign previously held by Foo Fighters’ "Rope." The band’s album Night Visions was also the most streamed album on Spotify during 2013 in the United States. In 2014, "Radioactive" won for Best Rock Performance at the Grammy Awards. Imagine Dragons performed the song at the ceremony along with Kendrick Lamar in a mashup with Lamar’s “m.A.A.d city.” Also in 2014, Dan received the Songwriters Hall of Fame Hal David Starlight Award.
Dan Reynolds is married to Aja Volkman who is also a musician. Her band is Nico Vega. Together they released an EP titled Egyptian. They are the parents of three daughters, Arrow Eve and twins Gia James and Coco Rae born on Tuesday, March 28, 2017. Dan and Aja announced their intention to divorce in May 2018. However, in January 2019, Volkman announced that she and Reynolds are "rebuilding." In September, Reynolds had told People magazine that watching the effect of their split on their daughters has been very hard for him.
Dan is also a promoter of gay rights and that is figuring into his newest music and performance style. He was also featured in a new documentary film titled Believer which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018, and is now part of HBO Documentary Films. One of Imagine Dragons' songs, "It's Time," was featured in an episode of the Glee television show when the series’ gay character [Blaine] sang the song to his boyfriend [Kurt].
- I did it when I was 19. I was getting into trouble and didn’t know where I was going in life so I did that. I wore that white shirt with my name tag on every day for two years and went to Nebraska. It was a life changing experience. I met a lot of people who had very different lifestyles and I was able to do service. I had drinks thrown in my face, I didn’t have much success knocking on doors, but it was a wonderful thing to do. I worked on farms and did service work – I'd have just been messing around or partying otherwise. It was right for me at the time.