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Profile: America (the band)


Profile: America (the band)

The band America


Claims to fame:

  • One of the most popular soft-rock outfits of the era
  • Brought the sound of folk-rock groups such as CSNY into the pop charts
  • Their surreal, somewhat psychedelic lyrics were an anomaly in their genre
  • Helped to define the new California soft-rock sound that grew out of the area's folk and pop
  • One of the few successful transatlantic rock acts


1970 (London, England)


Soft rock, Pop, Adult contemporary, Folk rock

Principal members:

Dewey Bunnell (born January 19, 1952 in Harrogate, Yorkshire, England): vocals, guitar, percussion
Gerry Beckley (born Gerald Linford Beckley, September 12, 1952 in Ft. Worth, TX): vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass, harmonica
Dan Peek (born November 1, 1950 in Panama City, FL): vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, harmonica

Early years:

The three guiding members of America, despite their name, met in strangely similar, decidedly multinational circumstances. All three were Air Force "brats," having grown up in the States but transferred to the US base in London -- all children of American military personnel with British wives! -- and attending Central High, an American-style high school set up specifically for such children. In 1968, they began performing in nearby clubs, but upon graduation, they naturally grew apart, with Peek returning to his native Virginia to attend college. Eventually, however, the trio decided to reunite in London.


Scenester and club DJ Jeff Dexter soon took notice of the group's abilities while seeing them gig around the city, and soon he lined up an audition with Warner Bros' London division. The trio's debut single, "I Need You," would eventually become a hit in the States, but while it established them in the UK, America the country wasn't buying. That is, until the second single, "A Horse With No Name," was released. Striking a chord with its style (very reminiscent of Neil Young) and oblique, dreamy lyrics, it shot straight to the top, and America the band took off; their debut album spun off three hit singles.

Later years:

Boasting three singer-songwriters and a variety of styles from folk to Beatles balladry to California pop, America dominated the AM waves for half a decade. But by 1977, co-founder Dan Peek, tiring of the rock lifestyle, became a born-again Christian and left the group. Backed by songs from noted tunesmith Russ Ballard, the group continued as a duo, scoring a hit in 1982 with Ballard's "You Can Do Magic," but never quite regained their foothold on the charts. The now-duo continued to sell, though, and has never really stopped touring; in 2007, they staged a studio comeback with Here & Now.

#1 hits by America:

"A Horse With No Name" (1972)
"Sister Golden Hair" (1975)

Adult Contemporary:
"Tin Man" (1974)
"Lonely People" (1974)
"Today's The Day" (1976)

Top 10 hits by America:

"I Need You" (1972)
"Ventura Highway" (1972)
"Tin Man" (1974)
"Lonely People" (1974)
"You Can Do Magic" (1982)

Adult Contemporary:
"A Horse With No Name" (1972)
"I Need You" (1972)
"Ventura Highway" (1972)
"Sister Golden Hair" (1975)
"Daisy Jane" (1975)
"You Can Do Magic" (1982)
"The Border" (1983)

#1 albums by America:

America (1971)

Top 10 albums by America:

Homecoming (1972)
Holiday (1974)
Hearts (1975)
History: America's Greatest Hits (1975)

Awards and honors received by America:

  • GRAMMY Award (1972)
  • Vocal Group Hall of Fame (2006)

Other facts and trivia about America:

  • Other members on and off stage have included: David Dickey, bass; Willie Leacox, drums; Calvin Samuels, bass; Jimmy Calire, keyboards/sax; Tom Walsh, percussion; Mike Woods, guitars and vocals
  • The band took its name from an "Americana" brand jukebox that the homesick trio spotted in a pub
  • "I Need You" was the first song Gerry Beckley ever wrote
  • "A Horse With No Name" was written during another homesick episode on a rainy English day
  • Seven of the group's biggest studio albums sported titles all beginning with the letter H, a tradition that was begun again in 1994 and continues to the present day

Covered by:

Garth Brooks, Kenny Loggins, Jars Of Clay, Ray Conniff, David Essex, Paul Hardcastle, Transatlantic, D:A:D, Spanic, The Hummingbirds, Eddie Schwartz, Love Spirals, Tom Braxton

Other important songs by America:

"Sandman," "Three Roses," "Don't Cross The River," "Only In Your Heart," "Muskrat Love," "Submarine Ladies," "Baby It's Up To You," "Another Try," "Old Man Took," "Midnight," "Woman Tonight," "Amber Cascades," "Don't Let It Get You Down," "God Of The Sun," "She's Gone," "All My Life," "Survival," "Right Before Your Eyes," "Cast The Spirit," "Special Girl," "Can't Fall Asleep To A Lullaby," "Young Moon," "Hope," "From A Moving Train," "Chasing The Rainbow," "Indian Summer"
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