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AMERICA: A Short History

Hard to believe that Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America have been together now for 27 great years....... which goes to show that quality does indeed endure.

Gerry, Dewey, and Dan Peek met at Central high school in London. They were sons of American servicemen, and were in various dance type school bands, including a group called "Daze."

When the boys graduated in 1969, they briefly went their separate ways. Gerry worked in a warehouse while considering a career in art or architecture. Dewey tried acting school, and Dan went to college. But the guys fortunately reunited in a snack bar outside London, and decided to pursue their music interests.

Gerry and Dewey's youthful talents had already drawn much attention, with Gerry writing "I Need You" at 16, and Dewey at 18 writing a song about the environment that became their trademark, "A Horse With No Name."

The band's name developed from many sources, including a deep homesickness for the USA. When they noticed a jukebox with the "Americana"label, they discovered (at least in part) their permanent name.

Their 1st LP via Warner was not overly successful, but the group added one more cut (Horse With No Name) and produced one of the most stunning, popular, and dynamic recordings, the legendary "America" album in 1971. The group's impressive musical abilities brought them worldwide acclaim and attention.

Soon after, the boys decided to move back permanently to the USA, which wasn't the most popular decision with their British mentors. At the same time, their popularity in the U.S. soared, as Americans fell in love with America's smooth acoustic sounds and rich harmonies.

Their next release, in 1972, was "Homecoming," which included the smash hit, "Ventura Highway," which was a tribute to their return to California. The popularity of "Homecoming" quickly silenced any critics who thought America could be a "one hit wonder."

America was honored in 1972 by winning a Grammy award for the best new artist.

In 1973, America released another masterpiece, "Hat Trick," which took an enormous toll on the band to produce. As a result, they decided to hire a producer, and chose George Martin, who produced for the Beatles.

It was after this period when Dan Peek made a difficult decision to leave America, and then pursued a solo career in Christian rock. He remains a close friend of Dewey and Gerry today, and has now joined the pop rock group Peace.

Some of America's finest work came in the 1980s, even though there was more of a creative burden created after Dan's departure. The group produced "View from the Ground," the fabulous "Alibi," followed by the beautiful "Silent Letter", and "Your Move."

When "Perspective" was released in 1985, fans were impressed with America's efforts to blend the latest advances in music technology with their traditional harmonies and acoustic sounds.

In the 1990s, America released "Encore: More Greatest Hits," followed by the 1994 album that many America fans are claiming to be one of their very best, "Hourglass," which features the hits "Young Moon," "Hope," and "Mirror to Mirror."

And in 1995, Gerry Beckley achieved a long time personal goal, releasing his first solo album, Van Go Gan, which has been acclaimed as a masterpiece. It includes the great songs Van Go Gan, Kiss of Life, Sunrise Sunset, Only A Kid at Heart, and Now Sue.

Also, Gerry's song "Hope," was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1997.

After all these years, America has over 160 songs and about 20 albums, and are currently working on a new release, possibly in the Fall/Winter of 1997/98. They are also giving up to 150 live performances world-wide each year, which is very demanding. America tours throughout the U.S. today, as well as in Europe, South America, Australia, and Asia.

It's been a great friendship with America for the past 27 years, and we are hoping the best is yet to come!

Written by Rick Wahlgren

Last Revised: 9 January 1998