America rides into Reno Silver Legacy show

Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage
The classic soft rock band America plays Friday, Oct. 4, at the Silver Legacy in Reno.
Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

America’s songs are so enduring, it is irrelevant “Sister Golden Hair” turned gray years ago.

The soft rock band with pack saddles full of classic hits, including “Horse with No Name,” will perform on Friday, Oct. 4 at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino.

Its more than 30 albums albums include No. 1 pop or American contemporary singles “Tin Man,” “Lonely People,” “Sister Golden Hair” and “Today’s The Day.”

America in the 1970s outsold Warner Bros. label mates Rod Stewart and James Taylor.

America has retained its fan base while gaining new fans who listen to classic rock radio. Its songs have been used in numerous movies and television programs, including the Netflix series “Breaking Bad.” As Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell harmonized the lyrics, “alligator lizards in the air” on the song “Ventura Highway,”  star character Walter White’s blissful moment behind the wheel was interrupted by a highway patrolman.

America actually was formed across the pond by Beckley, Bunnell and Dan Peek. Beckley and Bunnell, the remaining original players, were sons of United States Air Force members. They met at London Central High School. They were influenced by the popular music of the day.

Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage
America’s founders Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell
Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage

“The whole Crosby Stills singer-songwriter genre was a big thing for us at the time,” Beckley told this music writer before a previous Tahoe appearance. “James Taylor, Joni Mitchell had already started. We’d been playing in cover bands in high school and we decided to focus on that direction for a while and it just thickened out over the years.”

A self-titled debut album initially flopped. But after it was rereleased it became an iconic soundtrack for a generation. That was a good break.

The 1971 record included “Horse With No Name,” which went No. 1 on music charts all around the globe, including America, where it was on top for five weeks. A second single, “I Need You,” also was a hit.

A band that gains great success with a debut album is tasked with the daunting task of a popular second album. America did so with “Homecoming,” which included the smash hit “Ventura Highway.”

“Often people who start that big end up falling equally and as spectacularly shortly after,” Beckley said. “It’s a lot of pressure and a lot of work and it’s very hard to duplicate. The second album with ‘Ventura Highway’ sold more copies than the first one. We were very fortunate to get over that very big first hurdle and get on our way. Having said that, we’re over 30 albums now.”

  • America
    When: 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4
    Where: Silver Legacy Resort Casino
    Tickets: $54 LINK

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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