PERFORMING ARTS

America, the Band: An Authorized Biography

Rowman & Littlefield. May 2020. 232p. ­ISBN 9781538120958. $24.95. MUSIC
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Music journalist Warne has written the first full-length book about the multiplatinum band America, which despite selling millions of records was much neglected by critics. This authorized and laudatory biography explores the childhoods of band members Dan Peek, Gerry Beckley, and Dewey Bunnell, who, growing up in Air Force families, traveled constantly. In 1970, as students in London’s Central High School, they formed America and in 1972 enjoyed a meteoric rise with the release of their self-titled album and the single “A Horse with No Name,” which featured acoustic guitars and three-part harmonies and reflected the teenagers’ fascination with the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and Neil Young. The group moved to California, and their subsequent megahits embodied a laid-back post-1960s vibe. Finally, Warne outlines the band’s work with noted Beatles producer George Martin, Peek’s exit from the group in 1977, and their increasingly pop-oriented, string-drenched albums of the past four decades.
VERDICT Drawing from interviews with Beckley and Bunnell, Warne has started the process of refurbishing the reputation of America. Fans will be delighted, and those who sold them short will be impressed.

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