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Happy Birthday To One Of America’s Finest: Dewey Bunnell

Guitarist Dewey Bunnell was one half of the band America, who burst upon the music scene in 1971 with their fabulous single ‘A Horse With No Name.’

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America photo by David Warner Ellis and Redferns
Photo: David Warner Ellis/Redferns

Dewey Bunnell burst upon the music scene in 1971 with along with the rest of America with the fabulous single, “A Horse With No Name.” At the time, America was a trio that also included Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek. Peek left the band in 1977, and ever since America has been fronted by Beckley and Peek.

Bunnell was born in Harrogate, Yorkshire, the son of an American Air Force man and his English wife. It was at the London Central Elementary High School that Bunnell met Beckley and Peek. The three teenagers formed their band and recorded their album, calling themselves America because they didn’t want anyone thinking they were British trying to sound like Americans. Initially, their album didn’t include “A Horse with No Name,” but it was later reissued when the single made No.3 in the UK in early 1972. It’s one of those songs that resonates with all sorts of people for all sorts of reasons.

A Horse with No Name

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Over the next six years, they released seven studio albums and a live album as well as a greatest hits package on Warner Bros. (From their fourth studio album, George Martin became their producer.) When the band switched to Capitol Records for 1979’s Silent Letter, Martin remained as producer. Thereafter, other producers were drafted in and Beckley and Bunnell also took over the role.

A constant throughout the band’s 20 plus albums has been the quality of the songwriting. Beckley and Bunnell write separately, but also together, and sometimes with other writers from outside the band. But they’re perhaps known for “A Horse with No Name,” a song that none other than Michael Jackson reworked on his posthumous album, Xscape, as “A Place With No Name.”

Interestingly Michael’s sister Janet used another of Bunnell’s songs from America’s second album. “Ventura Highway’s” opening guitar riff and hook is sampled on Janet’s 2001 song “Someone to Call My Lover.” Her producers, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were influenced by America and “Ventura Highway” listening to KDWB 63 AM while growing up in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

We’ve compiled a selection of Bunnell’s songs on our playlist below, most notably selections from the beautiful Hourglass that includes a wonderful song co-written by Beckley and Bunnell called “Young Moon.” Check it out, among the many other gems, below.

This article is being re-published again today, in celebration of Dewey Bunnell’s birthday.

Follow the Dewey Bunnell’s View Of America playlist to hear some of his best recordings.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. john moffitt

    January 19, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    By far my all time fav band . Timeless. Brilliant. SUPERB. Seen them just the once in Liverpool an it was just like listening to an Album. Quality piece written above. Much love. x

    • uDiscover

      January 19, 2015 at 9:42 pm

      Thanks John, we hear you, and we agree. When they opened their set with Riverside it always gave us goosebumps

  2. john moffitt

    January 19, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    I’m ashamed to admit I wasn’t aware DEWEY was born in Harrogate UK . Thought I knew them so well . Lol. Thanx guys. John

  3. Lois A Yiaski

    March 10, 2015 at 4:54 am

    Dewey & Gerry, I have been listening to America since the wee 70’s. My BF played all your music, sang & played the guitar & piano. Stevie Weiss (RIP 7/12/1982) was flying his plane with his best buddy Ray Mooney who played the Congas/drums from Long Island to Rhode Island. The plane went off radar over the Long Island Sound, never finding the bodies nor the plane. They comb the mountains, everywhere. Ray Mooney’s dad was Chief Commissioner of NYC. also owning a Travel Agency in Farmingdale, NY. Stevie would always play & sing to me “Head & Heart” & I never hear ya play this song in concert. I introduced your music to my daughter CarlyJane after Carly Simon, we saw you at Penns Peak, she was in love instantly, just like I was back in the 70’s. I’m heading for West Palm Beach March 12th to visit Mrs. Edna Weiss, Stevie’s mom, her 93rd birthday on March 15th. Stevie’s younger Bro, Ronnie, does Kareoke at a local bar in Boynton Beach. We will be singing Sonny & Cher “I got you Babe” LOL!! but of course one of America’s songs. On your 2015 tour can you please include Head & Heart, I’ll be there at every concert. Happy Belated Birthday Dewey, A Capricorn, I’m a Cancer July 20th/55 just like Dan Peek. Please, just asking a little wee favor & your “Time” is thee greatest gift, it’s endless. Miss Lane~ Lois Macchia-Yiaski- Miss Lane a HS nickname. Lois Lane, such an old ladies name, my mom named me after an elderly woman who lived down the alley from her, she loved this elderly lady. Great, I got the name~!!!! Love to All of You~~~~

  4. Lois A Macchia-Yiaski

    March 10, 2015 at 4:59 am

    Hope to hear from ya Dewey & Gerry~~~

  5. Bubba

    December 29, 2019 at 6:24 pm

    Your math is off. Dewey would be one third of the founders of the Band. He is one half of the remaining members. Without Dan America is a limp biscuit. Dan was the music man and added all of the magical musical bits to their songs. Gerry was a great producer and arranger and Dewey a good song writer. Definitely better together than apart as evidenced by the lack of any great songs after Dan left. I knew them all in high school.

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