We awoke to the sad news this morning that Dan Peek of America passed away this past weekend. No details surrounding his death have been released. He was 60 years old.
Dan was born in Panama City, Florida but moved to the UK as a kid with his family when his father was station at a US Air Force Base near London in the UK. It was at school that he met two other sons of American fathers stationed there, Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell. Together, they formed a band, America, named for their native country, despite the fact that they hardly knew it. Their first album, America, was released in 1971 and spent five weeks at #1 on the US charts. A Horse with no name, a single from that album, also hit #1 in the US and #3 in the UK.
Dan Peek would remain with America for a total of seven albums (eight if you include History: America’s Greatest Hits). All of these albums charted in the top 40 and five charted in the top 10. Peek wrote such memorable tunes as Don’t Cross the River, Today’s the Day and Lonely People (hit #5 on the charts). He collaborated on such hits as a Horse with No Name, Sister Golden Hair, Ventura Highway and Tin Man.
In 1977, Dan Peek left America having found a renewed faith in God. He left what he saw as a negative lifestyle of drugs. He continued with a solo career quite successfully as a Christian musician. A single from his first solo album, All Things are possible, not only hit #1 in the Contemporary Christian music charts, it crossed over and became a hit in the Billboard Singles and Adult Contemporary charts as well. Though he had no more crossover hits, he continued with a successful Christian music career until retiring in the 1990s.
America continued on without Dan, releasing 20 more albums, including both live and compilation collections but including much new studio material too. They never recaptured the success they had with Dan, but they never stopped. In fact, their latest album, Back Pages, was released YESTERDAY! Through the years there had been many rumors of a reunion, but none ever came to pass. It should be noted that a Rolling Stone publication in the 1990’s did report the fact that they had reunited for a concert but this was just not true, yet it is repeated by many as a fact to this day.
During my show tonight, I will do a mini set tribute to Dan Peek. I usually keep these to four or five songs, but I just can’t do that in this case. I need to do a few more. My set will consist of…
Lonely People, America (Holiday, 1974), written by Dan PeekDon’t Cross the River, America (Homecoming, 1972), written by Dan Peek
Sister Golden Hair, America (Hearts, 1975)
Tin Man, America (Holiday, 1974)
Horse with no Name, America (America, 1971)
All Things are Possible, Dan Peek (All Things are Possible, 1979)
On the Way Home, America (Back Pages, 2011), without Dan Peek, Released YESTERDAY
If there’s a Rock and Roll Heaven, well you know they have a hell of a band.