Sometimes, it’s not just that you won a Grammy Award, it’s who you beat out that’s really impressive. In 1973, America was awarded the Grammy Award for Best New Artist. The runners up? The Eagles, Loggins and Messina and Harry Chapin. On Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 8 p.m. at the Ovations LIVE! Showroom at the Wild Horse Pass Casino in Chandler, you can find out why America, 40 years later, is still Grammy Award worthy.
In 1970, three high school acquaintances in London, England, Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek, joined together and started a band whose sound was heavy on acoustic guitar and three part harmony. All sons of U.S. Military personnel stationed in England, the trio dubbed themselves America, so as to not be confused as being British musicians.
In 1971, America released their first album, the self-titled “America.” The first release of that album, like many initial efforts from new bands, had only moderate success. Soon after, the band went back into the studio and recorded some new material, including a song by Bunnell known as “Desert Song.” Due to the positive response “Desert Song” received from audiences when America played live, the song was included on the next pressing of “America” with the song’s title being changed to “A Horse with No Name.” The result, “America” became a number one selling album, “A Horse with No Name” became a number one song and America was the Grammy’s best new artist.
America’s sophomore effort, 1972’s “Homecoming,” while not attaining number one status, did well. Three singles from that album, “Ventura Highway,” “Don’t Cross the River,” and “Only in Your Heart,” all found their way onto the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
After a lackluster performance by America’s third album, “Hat Trick,” the band went back into the studio, this time working with famed Beatles’ producer George Martin. The collaboration came up with the 1974 album, “Holiday,” which spawned two top five hits, “Tin Man” and “Lonely People.”
The Martin/America magic continued with “Hearts,” (America intentionally was naming all their albums with words starting with the letter “H”) released in 1975. America attained their second number one seller with the song with “Sister Golden Hair.” Another single from the album, “Daisy Jane,” also found success.
Although America’s last top ten single was 1982’s “You Can Do Magic,” America has continued to record new material, sixteen studio albums in all, including 2007’s “Here and Now,” and 2011’s “Back Pages.” Despite co- founder, Dan Peek, leaving the group in 1977, Bunnell and Beckley have remained active, recording and performing live, now in their fifth decade.
Tickets for America’s November 9 performance are nearly sold out but range from $27 to $90 and are available in person, by phone or online at the Wild Horse Pass Casino box office. Ticket discounts are available for those with an active Gila River Casinos Players Club card.