INTERVIEW – America’s Gerry Beckley Looks Back At Dan Peek Who We Lost in 2011
America had 11 Top 40 hits and 2 number 1 songs. Their first was 1972’s “A Horse With No Name” and then 1975’s “Sister Golden Hair.” They had seven Top 10 hits. Their most fruitful period were the seventies when they were a trio with Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek who left in 1977 and passed in 2011. When I talked to Beckley I had to ask him the obvious question. (Clip 002)

They were a trio for seven years but a duo for 41 years. Beckley says they are different than many band that might not be the real deal anymore. (Clip 005)

We will have more from our exclusive interview with Gerry Beckley of America next Friday. America are currently on tour. Go to VenturaHighway.com for details – by John Beaudin

John Beaudin has been in major market radio (Edmonton, Vancouver & Calgary) for 35 years and a music journalist since 1989. He graduated from Broadcasting school as a news man so he would have the skills to write about the artists that inspired him since he bought his first album, “Madman Across The Water” by Elton John as a teen. In the 80’s Beaudin was the host of the syndicated radio show “The Cross Canada Report” which had two version (Rock and A/C). Beaudin was also asked to be a judge at the Juno Awards (Canada’s answer to the Grammys) Twice. He has anchored every position in radio including morning and afternoon drive and was a Program and Music Director for The Breeze and California 103 in Calgary. He currently hosts the popular Lovesongs at QM-FM in Vancouver and on iHeartRadio.

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33 COMMENTS

  1. My friend Ron went to one of those "reunion concerts" of a famous 70's group, he was so excited to see them. He left after the third song, he said "the only original member was the guy doing the lights, they were all stoned and they just sucked". I told him that's why I won't go, I want to keep my memories intact….

  2. The real success of this band was in the early days, Gerry, when Dan was part of the band, not after he left. The eighties were a disaster for America because you tried to be relevant by incorporating new styles of music and sound which didn't suit you. America only slowly picked up again through their touring. Further, it is 'Horse' that normally draws youngsters in today and 'Horse' was an early song.

  3. I loved their albums as a trio and even their first live album and their first studio album as a duo. But I think no one can deny that their muse really abandoned them after that. I undertsand that they were in contact with Dan and sang on at least 2 of Dan's solo albums. There's a film footage on you tube showing Gerry turning up at a recording session for Dan. But had Dan reunited with his former band mates even for a farewell or greatest hits tour.. it might well have infused something that had been lacking in America output for a long time. But.. only they know why else they never got back together.. Love their work and like good wine.. it taste good for the passing of years.

  4. It's as simple as this. Gerry was the prettiest boy in the band. Even Dewey looked pretty good when he was young. Dan was the most comely looking of the three and he was the worst singer. Dewey Bunnell has probably always been the most talented songwriter in the band. Gerry was well matched to be a duo with Dewey. That said, I was always upset thinking that Dan Peek had been treated badly. The fact is that Dan didn't have much success as a singer or songwriter with America. In a band you can't give a person credit for songs they didn't write. Dan and Dewey wrote most of the good songs. You could add some weaker Dan Peek songs to an America record. And Dewey and Gerry certainly wrote loads of crappy songs later as a duo. Anyway, Dan may have been lucky to have stayed as long as he did with America. That said I really felt bad for him over the years. I didn't understand. I finally got closure through reading Dan's book about America and in hearing Dan's Guitar Man 1 and 2 plus Bodden Town and his Caribbean Christmas cd. I too would have loved a Dan Peek reunion but those guys simply weren't going to allow it. It is a shame but people are very human and they disappoint us all the time.

  5. America's best years were those with Dan Peek in the in the group. Dan struggled with drugs and other temptations as well as weariness from the extensive touring that so many other rock stars fall prey to. Of course there were other interpersonal issues with Gerry and Dewey. Read Dan's book to gain a bit more insight.
    Great band! See Musikladin's video to see the best performance of the band with Dan IMO!

  6. Peek turned to religious music which is OK. But how much more clean cut can a band be like America was? lol I wouldn't call them bad ass rock n roll. Peek had a drug problem but he was trying to blame touring for the reason. Don't buy it.

    America had more top hits than Elton John. Strange they aren't in the Rock and Roll Hall of FAme.

  7. I really loved their original pure acoustic sound from their first three albums. i personally regretted George Martin brought orchestra to America sound despite Tim Man is a great pop tune.

  8. No offense, but I have only seen America from 2002 to now, and I notice no loss without the third guy…..Dewey and Gerry and the guys are great without Dan, no missing a guy feeling in there at all with this fan

  9. fFor the first time in many years those eyes that hair those glasses man you !!!!! Ahhhhh! And im pretty much a virgin mary oh well life is short and live everyday happy omg. Lol omg

  10. Success has lots of snares. Not everyone deals with quick success well. The interviews i have seen with Dan talking about the stardom and its costs it sounds like he did what was correct for him and leaving the band and rock and roll lifestyle while he could. The three of them had a great sound.

  11. Man, you all are negative. I thought Gerry was very nice and polite in this video. But somehow the only thing in the comments is that America post-1977 is garbage.
    How can you say they were a different band after Dan left, based only on their hits? Sister Golden Hair was Gerry and Horse With No Name was Dewey, and they’re still there.
    I mean, even with the Beatles analogy— George only had one or two songs per album anyway. If he’d left, it still would’ve been the Beatles, just minus a couple songs (think Don’t Bother Me… bleh.)
    America without Dan is just America minus a few songs. I admit that they’re good songs (especially when compared to George songs) but as Gerry said, the bulk of the material is still there.

  12. You have to ask the question what songs are America most remembered for? Those created from 1970 to 1977 when they were a trio, not anything that came after Peek left. So even though they have gone on as a duo its not the same band.

  13. This sounds like a bit of historical revisionism. For example, like Peek, George Harrison of the Beatles also never contributed nearly what the main writers Lennon and McCartney did, but would the Beatles be the Beatles without him (or Ringo for that matter)? The point is that American WAS those three guys, so they should have changed the name of the group after Peek left.

  14. Dan left on his own accord. Touring and being a star led him down the path that he didn't want. He found the Lord and had to get out for his own piece of mind. America was a great band.

  15. Here's a little from me on perspective. From all this, let's just be grateful that from 1972-77 we got some pretty great stuff from these 3 guys – the 6 years that they played together are really a long time in music when you consider all the rehearsals, recordings, gigs, travelling, promotion etc. that they went through together, on top of their personal lives. Whilst I genuinely understand fans' anger, disappointment & frustration at good (and great) bands breaking up, really, we need to all be glad that ANY of them had some productive and happy years in the first place. Dominant personalities, shifting priorities, egos, royalties and the classic 'creative differences' are natural; all these and more conspire to break up the vast majority of bands in the end. Whether that end is a year, 30 years, a decade or 6 months along the road, no one truly knows. Not even the band itself is often aware of its own impending demise. Blaming people for breakups &/or non-reunions is ultimately pointless, but fans still do it because they seem to need a reason to hold on to. For me, the 70's were better because 'America' was a part of it. As John Lennon said…"you've got the records, what more do you need?"

  16. America ran out of gas in 1977 when the breakup occurred. With the exception of “Magic” their hits were over. They should have invited Dan back in the 90’s, but by this century both Dan and Gerry’s voices were gone. A reunion would have probably been a disappointment.

  17. Typical Gerry attitude that he and Dewey contributed the majority of the big hits. America was and always will be Dan Peek, Dewey Bunnell, and Gerry Beckley. What we have now is two founding members performing America hits, and not sounding as good as the trio.

  18. Simply put, Peek wasn't interested in going back (reunion) and Bunnell and Beckley weren't interested in him coming back. But in a polite way.

  19. Dan was a great guy and had a GREAT sense of humor. I met him in a unique fashion when he played a 'lunch' set at UM-St. Louis back in the late 80's/early 90's. I remember they announced he was on his way but was going to be a bit late so I decided to head to the restroom. I was standing at one of two urinals when I heard the door bust open and a guy run in and say "gotta piss, gotta piss…" He runs up to the urinal, starts to do his business, lets out a big sigh and says "oh man, that was a heck of a long ride." I look over (I know, against the rules) and who is standing there? Dan Peek! Like an idiot I said "Hey! You're Dan Peek!" and he says "Yup! Nice to meet you! I'd shake your hand but, uh…you know"…Standing at the sink after washing our hands we talked for a few minutes, and I asked "the question": 'you think the three of you will ever play together again?' He laughed and said "maybe when Gerry stops hating my guts and Dewey wakes up; that's not likely to happen…ever…" He then took the time to sign my "America Complete" songbook and went on to play a great show. A great memory for me…

  20. I really hate it when bands can't just do what's right for the fans. Fleetwood Mac, The eagles. As a fan I want to see the original members. I can't stand the eagles without Don Felder. I feel the same about America. I grew up listening to these guys.

  21. Dan added all of the magical musical bits that made the songs. The songs played by Dewey and Gerry never sound as good. They each shared writing responsibilities and would put an equal number of songs they wrote on each album. Dan would have loved to have a reunion but these two precks refused. Dan was grateful they toured and maintained record sales. Dan had one of the first platinum Christian albums.

  22. Gerry is wrong! He and Bunnell provided 2/3's of the music writing. They always all contributed equally in composition. Dan provided the other third but was also by far the most talented guitar player in the band. His Neil Youngish vocal also made for a positive yet haunting style to the groups harmonies that was noticeably absent after his departure. While it certainly wasn't a 'band killer' it was definitely on par with say, the Steve Hackett departure from Genesis. For AMERIICA, 3 part harmonies became 2-part and in both cases the style changed to a more pop- mass market product. . AMERICA became much more production polished and adult contemporary. Part of that was the 80s in general, but much of it was the loss of this integral puzzle piece, Dan. Also, Dan was open to a reunion in his later years…it seems Gerry just didn't want it and Dewey, now more a less the second fiddle in the duo, refused to step -in and try to make this happen. Dewey, it seems, was just unable to face the DAN+GER component ! ….. Ironically, the DANGER component took a new twist as Bill Mumy ( formerly a child star for LOST IN SPACE, became a significant part of AMERICA's later sound..i.e. DANGER, DANGER Will Robinson!)…lol.

  23. Everyone should know this story by now about this band…. Dewey was kinda the middle man, but was truly a closer friend to Gerry. Dewey would say that Dan + Gerry = 'DANGER'. .. i.e DAN+ GER(short for Gerry). Point being, they did not get along in the mid 70s. This, plus the different directions i.e. Dan's more Country + Christian style differed from the America that the other 2 envisioned going forward in the late 70s. This set the stage for the split in 1977.

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