America

in music •  5 months ago

An unlikely story of a band of American teenagers in London, England at the end of the 60s.

America billboard.jpg

Dewey Bunnell, Gerry Beckley, and Dan Peek attended Central High School in London, their fathers were stationed in the UK with the US Air Force. They formed a band in 1970 and called themselves "America." Makes sense when you think about it, they were in London and didn't want people to think they were Brits trying to pass themselves off as Americans.
They were lucky and didn't pay a lot of dues before they landed a recording contract with a major label, Warner Brothers.

America_album.jpg

Their very first hit was their best performing of their singles, it was #1 in the US, Canada, and a hit in Australia and several European countries. It wasn't included on the initial pressings of their first album, which makes those copies of that album a rarity. It was, however, included on later pressings. After the success of the single the re-released album went platinum.
Here is the official music video of that hit. Interestingly, the live footage of them playing is from an appearance on "Musik Laden" a German TV show, although the live version is quite good, this video is dubbed with the superior audio of the studio version.


Horse with no Name

They began as a trio, but Dan Peek left in 1977 to pursue a solo career in Christian rock, and Dewey and Gerry have performed as a duo since then. (Sadly Dan Peek passed away in 2011 at the age of 60.) Dewey and Gerry are both very talented songwriters, but also quite different. I'm a fan of Dewey Bunnell's music, he often writes with maj7th chords and his music has a wispy, slightly melancholic quality. All the songs in this post were written by Dewey Bunnell.
Gerry Beckly's songs are happy, ear worm melodies that always got a lot of radio play, e.g. "Sister Golden Hair." He's a talented guy, but I'm on a different wavelength.

AmericaHomecoming.jpg Dan Peek, Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell

Their next album announced their return to America, it was entitled, "Homecoming" and had a great song, Ventura Highway, that was also a hit. Again, the video is from German TV, the original audio is fine, but someone did an excellent job of editing the album audio seamlessly over the live music, but leaving the original chatter at the beginning.

I suspect the name "America" probably didn't help them a great deal in some European countries where anti-Americanism was fairly prevalent when they were breaking out. They are somewhat known in Germany, but certainly not to the extend they are in English speaking countries. In my admittedly limited experience, I've known several Germans with large rock / pop collections with hardly any American groups in their music collection. They only own American soul artists, otherwise mostly British rock groups with just a few exceptions.
I'll leave you with another Dewey Bunnell song (there are a lot more you can discover) called Tin Man, the origin of this video is the same as the one above.


Thanks for stopping by!


Photos

Collage is a stock photo from pixel.com, no attribution required, with an America album cover. Effects by @roused

Album Covers

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"Horse with no Name" was on a TopHits vinyl of my parents (although they mostly listened to German Schlager and maybe The Beatles).

So I was quite young, when I first listened the song and I still like it. That means a lot, doesn't it?

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How about that! Yeah I think Dewey Bunnell's acoustic songs still hold up well. They also recorded with the Beatles producer Sir George Martin, if you have a couple of minutes check this out and listen to what Sir George added to the mix of another one of Dewey's songs ;-)

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Very nice :-)

When I heard the song I thought that I knew the band somehow, but it was really just from a cover by the Danish Cowpunk band, Disneyland After Dark.

I do not think you can say that anti-Americanism made Europeans stop listening to music from the US. Since WWII there has been US music all over the place. (I think that the Brits took over pop since the Beatles though).

But maybe the country and folk genres was under-represented. In Denmark it has always been a bit hard for people to dig the sentimentalist part of US culture and I think this might be true also for other Europeans. It does not really blend well with our demand for self-irony. The above mentioned band is a good example. They just had to blend in some silliness.

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"In Denmark it has always been a bit hard for people to dig the sentimentalist part of US culture and I think this might be true also for other Europeans. It does not really blend well with our demand for self-irony."

;-) You demand self-irony -- your wish is my command


20 Cheesiest Eurovision Songs

As for American sentimentality, this is how an American with unmistakable talent adds a little silliness while keeping it real.

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Hahaha, I think they forgot this 1978 winner from Denmark.

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OMG I think this art is a depiction of that group's album being burned ;-) Ironically, the only time anyone ever danced to their music.

I was born in the USSR in 1977. In those days, Western music came to us with great difficulty. And the anti-American mood was stronger than ever. The US became our great friend after 20 years only in the 90s. But these were very hard times and very few people were interested in music then

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I know some Russian young people bought Beatles albums on the black market, but I cannot imagine that anyone would have risk buying an album by a group named "America! :-)

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Love it! Well done! Keep them coming!