In March of 1972 a new group called America hit number one with 'A Horse With No Name.' It stayed at the top in Billboard magazine for three weeks. America won the 1972 Grammy for Best New Artist. The trio consisted of Dan Peek, Dewey Bunnell, and Gerry Beckley.
Gerry joined me on WRCO in 1994 promoting the then duo's latest album called Hourglass.
America's "Hourglass" album included new recordings of a couple of old group standards ... "Everyone I Meet Is From California" was the B-Side of their first hit record, "A Horse With No Name" ... and "You Can Do Magic" was a comeback hit of sorts ... a #8 record in 1982, making it their first Top Ten Hit since "Sister Golden Hair" topped the charts in 1975, seven years earlier. (kk)
America had its only other Billboard number one three years later. For Gerry Beckley, that was the record that ensured the group's signature sound would be around for a long time.
While I can honestly say that I have been a fan of America from the beginning ... and have stuck with the band for the past fifty plus years ... I never really cared for "A Horse With No Name."
I, like many others, thought it was a Neil Young single the first time I heard it ... and it just never really grabbed me. (Truth be told, I found most of the lyrics to be so nonsensical that I ultimately tuned it out! And it is still a song that I'm more likely to turn off today than to listen to.)
For me, it was their second single, "I Need You," that won me over. A #8 hit in 1972, I liked it enough to go out and buy the album, hoping there might be more songs like it on the LP ... (heck, I could always skip over "A Horse With No Name!!!")
Fortunately, I was not disappointed ... "Riverside," "Sandman," "Three Roses," "Here" and "Clarice" all became favorites. I went out and bought every subsequent Warner Brothers album thereafter. (In addition to their hit singles list, they've got some INCREDIBLE album tracks that likely would have been just as popular had they been given more attention.) Fortunately, this was era of "The Soft Rock, Singer / Songwriter '70's," so a lot of these songs still found airplay at the time.
I have probably seen America perform live at least a dozen times over the past fifty years (most recently at the very last concert we were allowed to go to before they shut the country down for Covid in 2020 ... they were the headliners for a show at The Genesee Theatre in March of that year, with The Buckinghams as their opening act ... and it was a GREAT show!)
We did a series many years ago dissecting America's song lyrics in a fun, tongue-in-cheek way that eventually made its way to the band who , I'm told, loved it. When they released their Christmas album in 2002, they sent us an advance copy to promote in Forgotten Hits. Good guys. (kk)
TWO MORE PERSONAL FAVORITES:
I'll be the first to admit that my love of America music skews in favor of Gerry Beckley's compositions ... and here are two of my all-time favorites ...
"Daisy Jane" (#20, 1975) and "Only In Your Heart" (#58, 1973)
Other stand-out singles include "Ventura Highway," "Don't Cross The River," "Lonely People" and "Woman Tonight."
America has just been booked for two appearances here in the Chicagoland area ... August 26th at The Des Plaines Theatre
and August 27th at The Arcada Theatre.
These shows typically sell out VERY quickly ... so you may want to grab your tickets now.
Meanwhile, be sure to listen to Phil Nee's THOSE WERE THE DAYS radio program tonight on WRCO ...
Just click on the 100.9 headphones and start streaming!
Send him an email request if you like …
Or just let him know how much you’re enjoying his new weekly feature in Forgotten Hits!