America Fans Web Site History Archive

Archives: America Fans Web Site History

Written by Steve Lowry

I'm often asked how I became the webmaster of the America Fans web site. It's kind of a long story so sit back, get comfortable, and I'll do my best to explain it to you.

I've been a fan of America since I first heard them as a teenager living in southern California in 1972. After I graduated from high school I went to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. It was there that I met my wife and started working as a computer programmer and I've lived there ever since. You can read more about my personal life by reading my fan biography.

Between 1977 and 1982 I didn't follow America very much until "You Can Do Magic" was released. Over the next couple of years I bought the View From The Ground and Your Move cassettes but once again I lost touch with America.

In 1994 I went to a Beach Boys concert at Wolf Mountain (now The Canyons) in Park City. America was the opening act for the Beach Boys and I learned that they had put out a new album called Hourglass. They played a couple of cuts from the new album ("Young Moon" and "Hope") and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. It was available on cassette or CD, but since I didn't own a CD player, I got the cassette. While buying the cassette I learned that they had put out a few albums that I didn't have, namely, Alibi, Perspective, and Silent Letter. My quest to obtain those albums began immediately. The first thing I did was write a letter to Capitol records to see if they knew where I could get the albums. They said no, but referred me to Gallin-Morey Associates in Beverly Hills. I wrote a letter to Gallin-Morey and received an e-mail response from John Himelstein. He referred me to Rick Wahlgren and said that a bunch of people on the Internet could probably help me. I sent a message to Rick and he introduced me to Ike Gauley and Jim Nakao. From there, my "web of America friends" grew until I was corresponding with people all over the country.

It took me until October of 1995 to track down all of the missing albums but I finally did it. While I was tracking them down, I had several America fans who helped me out by making copies of the albums on tape that I could listen to until I could get my own original. America fans are really great that way.

As a Corel employee in 1995 I was starting to get involved with the Internet and I was excited to see America web pages hosted by Rick Wahlgren and Ike Gauley. Ike's didn't change a lot but it had some great photos on it. Rick's was the closest thing to an official America home page and I really enjoyed visiting it. However, I always felt that it was missing a section specifically for the fans. For that reason I decided to create an experimental web site that focused on the fans and was mostly made up of content that came from the fans.

As a Corel employee I was able to use the Corel server called to host the America Fans web site. It started out with a biography of me and a request for other fans to send in their biographies. Initially, the biographies were slow coming in but after a few months there were several of them out there. I felt like there was now a way for us America fans to get to know each other.

As one or two biographies trickled in each month, I had an idea that most America fans would probably like to have the lyrics for all of the America songs. So I started on a 7 month project of transcribing the lyrics. It was difficult to figure them all out but I had help from several America fans and I was eventually able to post them all. During a meeting with Gerry and Dewey many months later, they were both amazed that I would do all that work and they referred to me as "the guy who transcribed all the lyrics" (they didn't really know who I was yet).

I'm also an amateur guitar player and I thought it would be fun to post the guitar chords for some of the songs. So I took the chords from the guitar books that I had and posted them slowly but surely. Eventually I received more chords from fans and I continue to receive them.

As part of my Corel training I wrote a Guest Book program and a Chat Folder program which I added to the web site. Both programs went through many enhancements and a few bug fixes over the years.

By 1997 the America Fans web site was beginning to get rather large and the Chat Folder was attracting a lot of fans. I decided to write another program which would allow users to search through the files on the web site (the America Fans search engine). It was at that time that I created the archive section which contained past newsletters and other information from Rick and Ike's web sites. Neither one of them had search engines and I wanted fans to be able to search for past information.

In 1998 America Fans were anxiously awaiting the release of Human Nature and all of the America web sites were announcing the release date. Rick Wahlgren created the web site at that time which was a portal to the other three web sites (Rick's America site, Ike's photo site, and my America Fans site). He coined the phrase "All Trails Lead To" and created a logo which existed on the other three sites. Rick, Ike, and I were working together to make sure that Human Nature got as much exposure as possible. I modified the Chat Folder to include a graphic image that Rick had created which referred to it as the shared Chat Folder.

In order to help with the Human Nature publicity I called and e-mailed the folks at Oxygen Records and I eventually hooked up with Karen DiGesu. She was extremely helpful and shared everything she could with me and sent me some promotional material. I immediately posted the information on the Fans web site and then let Rick and Ike know about it so they could use it, too, if they wanted. We all continued to promote the CD until the day finally arrived that it was released.

By this time the America Fans web site had become a repository for photos that fans would send to me. This included photos taken during concerts, before and after concerts, and from other appearances. The site also had sound clips from many of their albums including soundclips from every track on Human Nature. Due to the efforts of all the fans, THEIR web site was growing by leaps and bounds.

In June of 1998 Corel announced that they were closing their Utah office and that all 650 employees would be laid off. That also meant that I would be losing the server which hosted the America Fans web site. I received offers from Rick Wahlgren and Oxygen Records to move my site to their servers. I chose to move it to the Oxygen (King Biscuit) server as a demonstration of their full fledged support for the band. Unfortunately, their server wouldn't run my Chat Folder software so I had to look elsewhere for a home for it. I eventually moved it to the server in Houston which is where my dad was working at the time. It continued there until late 1999 when was bought out by another company. At that time Scott West offered to host the Chat Folder on the server. Since it would run the Chat Folder software I graciously accepted the offer.

In late 1998 Rick decided that it wasn't worth his effort both monetarily and timewise to keep his web sites going. So he shut down and the America home page. Rick put a lot of work and effort into his sites and he's the one that initially got me involved with the Internet side of things. I pay tribute to him and thank him for all he did. We all miss his web pages.

In the latter part of 1999 Gerry and Dewey decided it was time to create an official America web site so they created The web site was originally maintained by a professional company which was very obvious from the classy way it was laid out. Originally it's content was rather static but when Erin Edwards came on board, she saw that it was updated frequently. It was the best place to go for the updated concert list and to get the latest news. Later on the webmaster duties were given to Rich Campbell, the bass player for the band.

In November 2004 the server died and with it went the Chat Folder and the Guest Book. By then I realized that the Chat Folder was taking an inordinate amount of my time so rather than find another home for it, I simply let it die. Rich Campbell had started his America web site by then and he had a Message Board which he allowed me to link to. At that same time I stopped adding concert photos and fan biographies to the web site in an effort to cut back on the time required to maintain the site. I realized that the extra time was much better spent doing things with my family and I have never regretted that decision.

In October 2005 King Biscuit decided that they couldn't host the America Fans web site anymore so a hunt began for another home. It seemed logical to be on the same server as the Message Board so I accepted Rich's offer to host it when he asked me about it.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the inception of the America Fans web site and it continues to provide lots of information and fun for America fans. Even though the site has seen quite a few changes since 1995, it's mission has remained the same. It is a place for fans of America to go for information, entertainment, and sharing. Without the input of the fans, the web site would quickly die. So I thank all of you who ever have or ever will provide content or ideas for this web site. After all, it really is YOUR web site!

Last Revised: 2 June 2009