Despite shooting to fame as early as 1972, the American folk rock band America still performs regularly to this day. The original members of the band were Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek, all of whom attended a school near London where they met in the mid-60’s. Although they met in Britain, they all had American fathers and chose the name America to make sure they were not mistaken for British artists.
They began by performing gigs around London before becoming contracted to Kinney Records in March of 1971. Their debut album attracted some attention, but their meteoric rise happened in early 1972 with the song A Horse With No Name.
Following this success they relocated to L.A. and they began to develop and experiment with their style of music. Their style began to veer more into the realm of rock music, moving away slightly from their original acoustic style. To accommodate this change the band also expanded, with new member David Dickey on bass and Willie Leacox on drums, although the founding trio remained the core members. They released their second album in 1972, titled Homecoming. Again, this was very well received and reached the million sales figure in 1975. This album, and their next, Hat Trick, was self-produced, allowing the group to decide what direction they wanted to take their music in and to stay true to their own tastes.
The third album did not perform as well but this did not deter the band and their next offering, Holiday, released in 1974 was of a very different style and led to more successful singles charting in the top ten. During this time, the group had hired George Martin and Geoff Emerick to produce their work and this seemed to be the right move for them at the time. They continued to collaborate and the LP Hearts was released in March 1975, again spawning a number of hits for the band. All of this success began to expand their stardom and the band became very well known.
A sixth and seventh studio album swiftly followed; the sixth, Hideaway was less well received than those before it and the seventh, Harbor, also did not perform well. This disappointment was compounded in 1977 when Dan Peek left the group due to artistic differences and wanting to go in a different direction. Beckley and Bunnell kept the band alive and carried on as a duo. Following the departure of one of their core members, they recognized the need to change their style and redefine America. Their style and the kind of music they created continued to evolve and, finally, in 1982, the duo once again recaptured the success of their earlier years.
As well as continuing to perform and please their fans to this day, the band makes an effort to help those in need and recently turned their humanitarian attention to the Greater L.A. Fisher House foundation, which works to house veterans and families of those being treated in the VA medical center. You can learn more about how they have helped here: http://www.looktothestars.org/charity/fisher-house-foundation.
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