Miscellaneous Information Archive

Archives: Fantastic Expedition Magazine Issue #1

Fantastic Expedition is a home grown magazine that was created by Jason Smith of the UK. The first issue includes an interview with Dan Peek and an article about America. Jason has made the magazine available for US residents for $8.00 payable by Paypal to helen.jason@btinternet.com. Here are some excerpts from the articles.


It is often said that a bad review can kill a West End play within days of its opening performance, forcing its closure. Fortunately critics do not have the same sway over music although a critical bashing can haunt a performer or band for decades, if not their whole career.

America, sadly, are a case in point. Savaged by the US press upon their arrival in the States in early 1972 they have never escaped this negative shadow despite major commercial success and longevity as a recording and performing band. With hindsight it's difficult to comprehend the reasons for such a vehement backlash although once the first stone is cast it is difficult for the masses not to follow. The reasons are speculative and can only be explained after their story is told.

America comprised Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek. They shared a common trait that would propel them together; they are all sons of US Air Force men and spent their formulative years moving from base to base and country to country until in the late 60s their fathers became stationed in the UK.

Although not neighbours they all attended the US school, Central High which is based in Bushey, a southern suburb/village of Watford, Hertfordshire. At one time they were all members of the high school band The Daze, although never at the same time. The culmination of this union came about at a friend's party following an impromptu jam where they realised their joint harmony singing signalled something special and America was born.

The origins of their name was as a result of nostalgia for their home country which was cemented by a juke box in the cafeteria of the West Ruislip Air Base which had the moniker, Americana.

Pop impresario Ian Samwell who had scored hits for Cliff Richard was asked to listen to a band by Dave Howson (America's fledgling manager) called Follow The Buffalo. Sources differ as to whether this was a demo tape or a live performance. Although not impressed by the group his interest was drawn by a guitar solo which had been played by a friend of the band, Gerry Beckley. Samwell sought out Beckley who he discovered had just formed his own band, America.

Dan Peek Interview

JS: How do you view the debut album now when looking back? What tracks stand out for you?

DP: I always felt that my own material was marginal. It's odd because I hear from people all the time who love Rainy Day or Never Found the Time. I even heard a DJ on the big Rock Station K-SHE, a Midwest bastion of rock and roll, who said Donkey Jaw was the greatest Rock song ever written. Most artists are their own worst critics. I think Sandman would be my favourite track. It has a "Big" feel to it and the electric guitar gives it an edge.

JS: I think given the success of the debut Warners missed a trick not releasing a third single in support of the album. Is there any particular song you thought would have been the best choice as a third single from the original album?

DP: The lack of a third single from our first album was almost moot, as the song Sandman garnered massive airplay and hence was included on our History (greatest hits) album.

JS: Can you comment of the debut album's track order. Side 1 is dominated by Dewey compositions. Do you think this was a conscious decision on Warner's part to promote Dewey as the lead singer?

DP: Actually the song order was a joint decision by the band, Sammy and Jeff. We just went with a set that felt right. Since Dewey had so many tunes ratio-wise, it was inevitable that his songs would be dominant in the order, period. I hated Pigeon Song. It was a last minute throw away tune by Dewey, the clever Sod. Whether he knew it or not, it gave him one more piece of the overall pie. A fact not lost on Gerry and me when it came time to get our slices.

JS: I understand that America appeared on the first ever episode of BBC 2's The Old Grey Whistle Test in September 1971. Do you recall your set list?

DP: No, unfortunately not. I think we did several songs that are on the first album minus of course A Horse With No Name.

Last Revised: 12 October 2009