America's Dan Peek Rides that 'Highway in the Sky' RIP 1950-2011

Although he left the popular folk-rock band America  many years  ago, Dan Peek's gentle melodies, skillfull, distinctive guitar work, vocal talent and songwriting contributions can still be felt on a band most known for 70's hit songs like "Horse with No Name," "Ventura Highway," and "Sister Golden Hair."  But, it was his "Lonely People," with it's hopeful message that still resonates today. After the song found its way to the charts, Peek himself would leave the band in pursuit of that 'silver cup,' he mentions in the song. With only a pair of fine solo albums and  autobiography, An American Band,  to explain, there's no great mystery to his leaving the spotlight. He simply found faith and fullfillment, then left the scene in answer to his own spiritual quest nurtured by his faith in Jesus Christ as his personal savior and redeemer-His Silver Cup.


Dan Peek  was among a handful folk-rock celebrities in the mid 70's  including Richie Furay, Barry McGuire, Bob Dylan and Noel Paul Stookey, who openly spoke in their songs of spiritual longing and sought their answers through the Christian faith when it went against the stream of popularity.  America, at the time, was topping the rock music charts.  


 While the band, America, along with their string of hit songs, cannot be regarded innovative, they could be considered carriers of the flame of the folk-rock sound begun in the 60's by Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills & Nash. Their songs are appealing, engaging and accessible and continue to retain their quality and popularity today. They have toured and recorded as a duo with Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell since Peek left in 1977.


The following tributes can be found on America's official webiste:

"I am so sorry to learn of Dan’s passing. Dan, along with Gerry & myself, formed the band “America” as teenagers after being great friends in high school during the late 60’s. It was a joyous time for the three of us, full of excitement and laughter. We created lasting music together and experienced a life that we could never have imagined. Dan was an equal and integral part of that early history, and I have never forgotten the good times we spent making that music and learning about life together. Although we eventually went our separate ways, his contributions to the music of “America” have always been present and will last forever. This news brings great sadness. My sincere condolences go out to his wife, Catherine, and the entire Peek family. May Dan rest in peace, and his memory be cherished forever." -Dewey Bunnell

"I am deeply saddened to hear the news of Dans passing. He was a dear friend for many years. Dan & his music will live on in the great songs he shared with us all. My sincere condolences go out to Catherine and the entire Peek family. May he rest in peace...."
-Gerry Beckley


There is no news as to the cause of death. His website simply reads;


"Dan Peek went to heaven on July 24, 2011." 


Views: 466

Comment by L A Johnson on July 26, 2011 at 2:46pm

Sad news, as you say not an innovative band but the first America record is an all time favourite of mine.


Comment by John Graveling on July 29, 2011 at 4:03am
The first four records were good. Never innovators but fine pervaours of melodic wooden music and soft rock. Their songs were well structured and well sung.
Comment by Brian Rost on July 29, 2011 at 4:47am
Their cover of "Head and Heart" led me to seek out John Martyn, for that I'll be forever grateful.
Comment by Steven Harrison on July 29, 2011 at 6:53am

Very sad to hear the news of Dan.  Their songs from the early days are those  you automatically sing along. It's just a very normal thing to do. Thanks for posting this video. I have never seen this before.


Comment by herc_takes_five on July 29, 2011 at 11:52am
i enjoyed america's early albums, especially the first two. who cares if they weren't "innovative," neither are most of the artists covered by no depression. they had plenty of great songs (and some not so great). so long dan.   
Comment by Joe Sherfy on July 29, 2011 at 2:35pm
While I owned the second record and enjoyed it, I was like a lot of folks and thought they were kind of "light weight." About 10 or so years ago a friend gave me a copy of their first album and I have to say, it is now a favorite of mine. To me its the mark of a great record that you go back to it time and time again and it wears well. That record still sounds good to me. I've been playing it bunch this past week. As some point I will put it up, but rest assured it will come out again and I know it will still sound great.
Comment by Jeff on July 30, 2011 at 11:16am



Bummer. My favorites of his are Don't Cross The River, Lonely People and Everyone I Meet's From California. Several years ago he posted An American Band, a couple chapters at a time, on his web page. Interesting read, from playing at a military club on an air base in Pakistan, when he was a kid,  to LA and seeing Joni Mitchell sunbathing nude, the parties in LA and finally pulling out of the fast lane and moving to Grand Cayman. . Looks like you can read most of it here:

Comment by Terry Roland on July 30, 2011 at 11:53am
Thanks for that link, Jeff!  Great....
Comment by Mary Margaret on August 1, 2011 at 9:55pm
Their songs were the sing along in your car types. I just heard "Lonely People " a few years ago. I love that song.
Comment by Terry Roland on August 1, 2011 at 10:54pm
Durable folk-pop, well-crafted and executed....They weren't trying to be great, but they made timeless music, so cool enough. Dan was really a sweet soul. 


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Created by No Depression Feb 17, 2009 at 9:06pm. Last updated by No Depression Sep 24, 2012.