America is a 70s music era classic rock and soft rock band that was formed by Dan Peek, Gerry Buckley and Dewey Bunnell, American citizens raised in England by military parents. The trio met in high school and began playing music together. They were influenced by The Beatles and Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Almost immediately after high school the band signed a recording contract and had a gold record with their biggest hit song, “A Horse With No Name”, on Warner Bros. Records. From 1971-1975 the trio became very popular internationally and had six Billboard Top Ten songs and three platinum albums. Some of these hits have become oldies music favorites. The bands popularity faded after 1975 and Dan Peek left the band in 1977 to pursue a solo Contemporary Christian singing career. Peek died on July 24, 2011 at the age of 60. The new America duo of Buckley and Bunnell kept recording and rebounded in 1982 with their top ten hit song, “You Can Do Magic”, followed by a couple of other minor hits. Their popularity once again faded so they quit recording and focused on concert tours. The duo went ten years (1984-1994) without recording an album, not returning to the recording studio until 1994. Since that time they have had several successful recordings, including the new 2011 “Back Pages” album. Other America Hit Songs: “I Need You”, “Ventura Highway”, “Don’t Cross the River”, “Only in Your Heart”, “Muskrat Love”, “Rainbow Song”, “Green Monkey”, “Tin Man”, “Lonely People”, “Sister Golden Hair”, “Daisy Jane”, “Woman Tonight”, “Today’s the Day”, “Amber Cascades”, “She’s a Liar”, “Jet Boy Blue”, “Simple Life”, “God of the Sun”, “Don’t Cry Baby”, “Slow Down”, “California Dreamin'”, “Only Game in Town”, “All My Life”, “All Around”, “You Could Have Been the One”, “One in a Million”, “Survival”, “Right Before Your Eyes”, “Jody”, “The Border”, “Cast the Spirit”, “The Last Unicorn”, “Special Gift”, “Can’t Fall Asleep to a Lullaby”, “The Last Two to Dance”, “Young Moon”, “From a Moving Train”, “Wednesday Morning”, “Moment to Moment”, “Woodstock” & “Caroline No”.
History of America
Soft rock stars America are, in fact, a British band, although their members — Dan Peek, Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckely — do have American blood. Their own fathers were US Air Force officers who were based in the UK.
Peek, Bunnell and Beckley met while still in high school during the late 1960s, and soon they began to make music together and formed a band which they dubbed America. Then they started to play in local clubs around London, developing their own unique folk-rock style. Jeff Dexter, a music entrepreneur, gave the trio their first major gig at The Roundhouse and also helped the band land their first recording deal with Warner Bros. Records.
America released their self-titled debut album in late 1971. America’s leadoff single “A Horse with No Name,” released in the UK in early 1972, where it hit #3 there. When the single was released in the States the following spring, it ended up at the top of the Hot 100. America the album topped the Billboard 200, going platinum. The album’s second single “I Need You” also reached the top 10 on the Hot 100 (at #8).
Following their initial success, the British trio moved to Los Angeles, California, where they recorded and self-produced their second album Homecoming. The LP was released in the autumn of 1972 to positive response. The album’s most prominent single was “Ventura Highway” which reached #8 on the Hot 100.
However, their third album Hat Trick (1973) was their first album not to go gold, and in the UK it only reached silver status. The group went on to record for their fourth album Holiday, their first collaboration with the legendary ex-Beatles producer George Martin.
When Holiday was released in 1974, it gave America another hit. It spawned two US Top 10 hits, “Tin Man” (at #4 pop, #1 adult contemporary) and “Lonely People” (at #5 pop, #1 adult contemporary). Holiday reached #3 on the Billboard 200, going gold.
Their fifth album Hearts (1975), was their second album with Martin. It again went to top 10 of the US Billboard 200, and gave America their second #1 hit with “Sister Golden Hair.” Later in 1975, the band released their first compilation album History: America’s Greatest Hits. It went to #3 on the Billboard 200, becoming their first multi-platinum selling release, lifting over four million units.
In 1976, America released their sixth studio album Hideaway. It went #11 on the Billboard 200 and went gold, although their popularity was starting to falter. That LP’s singles “Today’s The Day” only settled on a #25 peak position, while “Amber Cascades” only went to #75.
Having renewed his Christian faith, Peek left the band in 1977 to launch a solo career as a contemporary Christian rock musician. Beckley and Bunnell decided not to replace Peek and instead continued as a duo. In 1977 the band brought in a guitarist named Michael Woods to replace Peek, at least in their live shows.
After having released albums Harbor (1977), Silent Letter (1979) and Alibi (1980) to little attention, America released View from the Ground (1982) which spawned the band’s last Top Ten single “You Can Do Magic” (#8 pop, #5 adult contemporary).
Up to the new millennium, America has continued to release new material, live albums as well as compilations. A comprehensive boxed set Highway was released in 2000. In 2007, Here & Now was produced by Adam Schelsinger (Fountains of Wayne) and James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins) and featured the band collaborating with several rock stars including Ryan Adams, Ben Kweller, Nada Surf and others. In the summer of 2011, Beckley and Bunnell released their latest album to date Back Pages, on the independent label E1 Music. In that same month of the album’s release, Dan Peek passed away in his sleep. He was 60 years old.
Useful America links
- America Official Website with Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell – Horse With No Name – Sister Golden H
VenturaHighway.com – the online home of music group America featuring Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell and hit songs Horse With No Name, Sister Golden Hair, Ventura Highway and more.
- America (band) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia