America

AmericaThe group America was formed in England in 1969 by three classmates from London Central High School. They were Englishman Dewey Bunnell and Americans Dan Peek and Gerry Beckley (the latter two sons of U.S. Air Force officers). The trio took their name from an Americana jukebox at the military installation at RAF West Ruisilip. The group’s first album, simply titled America, was produced by Ian Samwell, who was best known as Cliff Richard’s lead guitarist. When first released, the album sold only modestly — but that was before one additional track was added and the LP was reissued. That tune, which Bunnell had originally titled “Desert Song,” was renamed “A Horse With No Name” and became an international sensation, soaring to #1 in the U.S.A. in March 1972 on the Warner Bros. label. A second single taken from the album, “I Need You,” also reached the Top 10, peaking at #9 on the Hit Parade that summer.

Despite that success, the band decided to drop their producer, move to L.A. and put their second album together themselves. That LP, Honecoming, featured a third Top 10 hit, “Ventura Highway,” which was inspired by the real-life California thoroughfare. Also on the album was “Moon Song” — which featured backward lyrics. When played in reverse, they were revealed to say, “All good men come to the aid of their country.” America’s sustained success in 1972 was rewarded with that year’s Grammy Award for “Best New Artist.”

The group next choose George Martin as their producer, who had produced most of The Beatles’ hits. The results included “Tin Man” in 1974, “Daisy Jane” in 1975, “Lonely People” in 1974 and in 1975 and the Hit Parade topper “Sister Golden Hair.” In 1982 “You Can Do Magic” added another million seller. The band wound up as Warner Bros. Records’ #1 act of the ‘70s — outselling both James Taylor and Rod Stewart.

America was inducted into the Hit Parade Hall of Fame in 2009.