Classic rock band America performs ‘Horse with No Name’ at the Weinberg Center in Frederick

Classic rock band America continues to perform after more than half a decade. Learn more about the rockers before their concert in Frederick, Maryland.

Listen to our full conversation on my “Beyond the Fame” podcast.

WTOP’s Jason Fraley Gives a Glimpse of America at the Weinberg Center (Part 1)

They delivered classic rock hits from “Horse with No Name” to “Sister Golden Hair.”

Saturday night, America performs at the Weinberg Center in Frederick, Maryland.

“COVID kept us from celebrating our 50th anniversary, which would have been 2020, we started in 1970, so we had big plans for 2020, but we’ve been on ice,” co-founder Dewey Bunnell told WTOP . “It’s a fantastic stage. I would never have expected it

Ironically, all three members of the original American trio were technically born in London.

“We’ve always been American citizens…but we were children of Air Force fathers, so we were stationed there in London in the late 60s and we went to high school there. , an American school for people like us, for families and civilians,” Bunnell said.

Growing up in London, these American kids loved listening to British rock ‘n roll.

“We were listening to all the British invasion artists coming to the States,” Bunnell said. “Before that we loved the Beach Boys and surf music, instrumental bands like The Ventures, Dick Dale & The Del-tones, The Safaris. … It was fantastic to be 16, 17, 18, 19 in London to see live performances from Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd.

He met his bandmates Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek at London Central High School.

“Dan’s family was actually from Pakistan and Gerry’s family was in Germany, both of their dads were officers, my dad was a senior staff sergeant from California,” Bunnell said. “Gerry and I both had British mothers. … We had a common interest in guitar and music and Gerry had a small orchestra at school. … We got on well.

They graduated in 1969 and formed the band in 1970 while working on the military base.

“We were writing songs and playing on the side, we just compared notes and started putting those songs together,” Bunnell said. “One thing led to another, we met this guy and this guy, we went to this office and this office, we shopped and we had instant success with what eventually became the debut album of songs.”

After being signed to Warner Bros, the guys released their self-titled debut album “America” ​​in 1971, while Bunnell penned the No. 1 hit single “Horse with No Name”.

“I remembered the sights and sounds of the desert,” Bunnell said. “I became very much in love with the desert and nature. … We moved around so much that my brother and I spent a lot of time outside. … We had been there for five years in England at that time, it was raining and sometimes dark, no long summers… so I wanted to see those sights and sounds again.

How did he come up with the famous “la la la” arrangement of the song?

“I already had the ‘la las’ in there,” Bunnell said. “I thought at the time that I might put some lyrics to it, but this particular song fell during a two-hour session sitting on a bed at my friend’s house and the ‘la las’ were there. In the process of arranging three-part vocal harmonies, we’ve always loved that feature in any song… the ‘la las’ just stayed.

America won the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1973, beating out a collection of future music legends like The Eagles, Harry Chapin, Loggins & Messina and John Prine.

“That year was just a blur,” Bunnell said. “It was heavy ground. John Prine was a very respected singer-songwriter, Harry Chapin came on our show to give us advice on how to improve our set, we all knew the Eagles because we were in the same office… Kenny Loggins who we have a lot with worked, and Jim Messina, who came out of Buffalo Springfield.

Their second album “Homecoming” had “I Need You” written by Beckley and “Ventura Highway” written by Bunnell, while their album “Hat Trick” had a cover of “Muskrat Love”.

“We’ve always made a pact between the three of us, ‘The Three Musketeers’, we’ll all write equally, if there’s 12 songs on a record, we’ll all write three or four each,” Bunnell said.

Their fourth album “Holiday” brought in legendary Beatles producer George Martin.

“We were so lucky to meet and talk with George Martin,” Bunnell said. “He was a wonderful man. We really wanted to be prepared for this first album, we did seven albums with him in all, including the remix of ‘The Greatest Hits’. … I had this song ‘Tin Man’, which was loosely based on ‘The Wizard of Oz’, which was my favorite movie and maybe still is.

Their fifth album “Hearts” sent them back to the top of the charts with the No. 1 single “Sister Golden Hair” with its opening lyric, “Well, I tried to do it on Sunday, but I’m so down that I put on Monday and undressed.

“I think the very front line catches you,” Bunnell said. “I remember in English class, the teacher would say, ‘You have to enter them with the first line or the first paragraph of your poem or your book.’ … It’s a great song anyway; structurally there are really nice parts and the end rocks and the [opening] slide guitar, which was a tribute to George Harrison.

In 2006, America was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. The band received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2012, a year after Peek died at age 60.

“When your music is placed in TV shows or movies…it comes on the office desk and we say, ‘Wow, we’re going to be in a ‘Friends’ episode or ‘Breaking Bad’ use ‘Horse with No Name, “It’s things along the way that are total bonuses,” Bunnell said. “It’s nice to be recognized, but the real crowning glory is that we still do it.”

WTOP’s Jason Fraley Gives a Glimpse of America at the Weinberg Center (Part 2)

Listen to our full conversation on my “Beyond the Fame” podcast.

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