Dan Peek, America, and great music

[Update: Great comments below from Dan’s brother, Tom]

Right now I am listening to America, the band. They are one of my favorite bands of all time. I am a BIG FAN of their hugely successful songs from the early 70’s including . .

Ventura Highway (one of my personal favorites, a song with incredible accoustic guitar riffs and the one song I insist on playing when I am in California)

Sister Golden Hair

A Horse With No Name

Tin Man

I Need You.

Muskrat Love . . . no . . maybe not that one.

Lonely People

Dan peek

America was a band formed in London by military kids who had American dads and British mums. They did really well as a band until one of their key musicians, Dan Peek, the guy behind bringing them all together as a band, somehow, by some weird set of circumstances, became a follower of Jesus and was not able to integrate the life of a rock musician with his new life.

So in 1977 Dan left the band and America never quite reached their previous fame.

In July this year, Dan Peek passed away. He leaves behind him some of the best kick-ass music of the 70’s.

Dan went on to write more music and even had a number one hit in the Contemporary Christian Music world and a album on Pat Boone’s label entitled “All Things are Possible”. You can access some of that music on his site.

I am glad he made his own way but somehow I am saddened that he did not find a way to be a musician in a famous secular rock band AND a follower of Jesus at the same time.

Wish I could rewind that one and play an alternative scenario . . .

Know what I mean?

Check out Dan’s book: An American Band – The American Story

Andrew

Andrew Jones has been blogging since 1997. He is based in San Francisco with his two daughters but also travels the globe to find compelling stories of early stage entrepreneurs changing their world. Sometimes he talks in the third person. Sometimes he even talks to himself and has been heard uttering the name “Precious” :-)

11 Comments

  • B. J. Thomas had a similar trajectory with the difference being that he continued to work in secular music. And he’s still out there. You can follow him at http://www.bjthomas.com My wife and I saw him at a Christian concert in 79 and he said Christians were constantly asking him why he still sang some of his old secular songs (“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” and “Hooked on a Feeling” were some of his big ones. He said that there was nothing wrong with secular music and that in no other profession was a person expected to switch jobs because they became a Christian. Bricklayers don’t go to building only churches, so why should singers only sing Christian music?
    There was very little crossover back then and outside of Bluegrass music, there was very little mixing of sacred and secular in the same venue. When the Oak Ridge Boys went mainstream, they dropped their Christian songs just as fast as Dan Peek dropped his secular ones. With the exception of “All The Lonely People.”
    In a word, fundagelical Christianity kills art.

  • As a kid I listened to America via my brothers’ albums, and then got their greatest hists myself. Probably still have it. I enjoyed the songs you mention (and also not Muskrat), and some others: “Don’t Cross the River” is another good one, and was by Peek.
    I had heard about his conversion. I kind of felt on his solo stuff that he could have used the strong voices of the other guys to mix with his again.
    I understand your sentiments, but if his conviction was to split from the secular scene, that may well be what he needed to do. Some believers have an issue with the mix of sanctified and secular art, and I respect that. His conscience and conviction far outweigh our desire for some more cool music.
    No “s” in his name, btw.
    Thanks for bringing up the topic: a blast from the past.

  • i used to do some “cover” from those dudes……… loved ’em. Sister Golden Hair is a sorta cool memory for me, considering whom i was dating at the time.
    luv ya bro
    xcat

  • Enjoyed your post about Dan. Just a note for accuracy… The last name is Peek (not Peeks) and Dan went to Heaven on July 24, 2011 (not June)
    Although Dan did not achieve later mega-fame in a secular rock band, he certainly was successful and even better, happy writing and recording as a solo artist. And… living in the Cayman islands wasn’t too bad either 🙂 How do I know this? I am Tom Peek (Dan’s brother)

  • There is a book that talks about this sort of thing called “Rock and Roll Rebellion”. Quite good but did not get the press it deserved.

  • Tom, thanks for your post. Sorry for misspelling your brother’s name. [what an idiot!!!] And I will correct the date.
    Glad he was happier. I made the same decision as Dan did when i was a teen, to follow Jesus, and have enjoyed a similar happy ride.
    Fame is fleeting. Life is what counts.
    What about you? How did your brother’s decision affect your life?

  • You asked, “How did your brother’s decision affect your life?”
    My kneejerk reaction was… how can he give up all that fame, money and success? He had a beach house in Malibu, money, fast cars and he hobnobbed with the rich and famous. Two minutes later I understood.
    I don’t know if you have read Dan’s autobiography An American Band – The America Story , but Dan was on a fast track to total destruction. Dan was actually “saved” as a child and his decision was to recommit his life to the Lord. That saved his life.
    To answer your question… I’m “saved” too and I am happy to know our family circle will be un-broken.
    Many thanks for mentioning Dan Peek on your great blog!

  • ,,,yeah America, many happy memories. coming to faith at the back end of the Jesus Movement I can understand something of Dan’s motivation. as my elder sister before me, I smashed a lot of my record collection once I too “got saved”. the thing is, the association with a former sex drugs and RnR lifestyle means that many of those songs/albums had for me a bad connotaion…in that move, disociation with the past was seen as part and parcel of true repentance. after 30 years on the narrow road i can happily listen to some of the old stuff without baggage – but making a big break is a good move young uns. burning stuff is biblical. I bless Dan’ memory. ‘Sleep on the Rainbow’ was always my fav America tune. BTW interesting to look at the first post-Dan America album – his colleagues reacted, clearly.

  • Good to know that Tom, I recently added Greatest Hits to my collection again, what those guys had was special.It is also important to put Dans decision to forsake secular scene in context, that is what generally happened in those days, and was done in faith, but I take TSK’s point – it would have been great to see an extended secular career. The main thing is that Dan was happy with his decision

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