From Fab Four to Phil Hartman, the curious history of America, the band
FARGO — How well do you know America?
Don't worry, this isn't a political pop quiz or a citizenship test.
With the classic rock/folk pop group coming to the Fargo Theatre on Friday night, May 18, to play classics like "A Horse with No Name," "Ventura Highway," "Tin Man" and "Sister Golden Hair," the time is right to see how much you know about the band and its music and learn more about the curious history of America, the group.
• Just like the country, the band America has deep English roots. The group was actually founded in London in 1970, where the parents of singer/guitarists Gerry Beckley, Dewey Bunnell and Dan Peek served in the U.S. Air Force.
• The group's breakthrough song, 1972's "A Horse with No Name," was inspired by artwork from Salvador Dali and M.C. Escher and Bunnell's memories of driving through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico as a kid.
• The Beatles were a major influence on the trio, and Beckley openly paid tribute to George Harrison with the guitar intro to "Sister Golden Hair" lifted from Harrison's "My Sweet Lord."
• It was the second time Beckley had "borrowed" from the singer/guitarist, as "I Need You" shared a title with a Harrison number. "When I first met George, I told him I was afraid I had taken his title, because he had a song called 'I Need You' from the album 'Help!' He said, 'That's OK, Gerry, I got it from someone else,'" Beckley recalled during a recent phone interview.
• The group was so enamoured with The Beatles that producer Sir George Martin, known as "the fifth Beatle," oversaw America's recordings from '74 to '79.
• The artwork for the group's first greatest hits album, "History: America's Greatest Hits," was drawn by comedian Phil Hartman, who had also done artwork and logos for Poco and Crosby, Stills & Nash.
• After years of drug and alcohol abuse, Peek left the group in 1977 and refocused on his Christian faith. He would become an influential contemporary Christian recording artist. He died in 2011 at the age of 60.
• Just as America was able to tap into its love of The Beatles, indie rock stars like Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne), James Iha (Smashing Pumpkins), Ryan Adams, Ben Kweller and members of My Morning Jacket and Nada Surf, all fans of America, collaborated with the group on 2007's "Here & Now," the first new America album in a decade. "We never wanted it to be a duets album, but (Schlesinger and Iha) did such a great job incorporating all of these people," Beckley says. "And to me, it really sounds like a great, timeless America album. I loved that project from start to finish."
If you go
When: 8 p.m. Friday, May 18
Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway N.
Info: Tickets range from $69.50 to $99.50, plus fees; www.jadepresents.com or 866-300-8300