Monday, July 25, 2011

Dan Peek - Original Member of America Has Died

From Wikipedia: Dan Peek (pictured left) (born 1 November 1950, Panama City, Florida; died July 24, 2011) was a former member of the rock band, America from 1970 to 1977, together with Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell.

He contributed lead and backing vocals, guitars, bass, keyboards, and harmonica to their recordings during his tenure in the band. As a member of America, Peek contributed with four Top 100 singles: "Don't Cross The River" (#35), his most successful single "Lonely People" hit (#5), "Woman Tonight" (#44), and "Today's The Day" (#23). "Lonely People" and "Today's the Day" also hit number 1 on the Billboard AC charts.

Peek left America shortly after the February 1977 release of the Harbor album. He renewed his Christian faith after years of unhappy recreational drug use and a fast lifestyle, and had begun to seek a different artistic direction than Beckley or Bunnell. He went on to sign with Pat Boone's Lamb & Lion Records, and found success as a pioneering artist in the emerging Christian pop music genre. Outside of rejoining Beckley and Bunnell on stage on one spontaneous occasion several years after, Peek has not reunited with America, contrary to various inaccurate reports which have arisen over the years. Chris Christian co-wrote, produced, and contributed backing vocals on Peek's debut solo album, All Things Are Possible, in 1979, but that was in the context of Peek's solo career, and not as America. This was the first Contemporary Christian Hit to reach the Billboard charts and reached the Top 10 in the A/C Billboard chart. Gerry and Dewey sang on "Love Was Just Another Word" written by Steve Kipner and Chris Christian in LA which was the last time the three original members of "America" recorded together. He followed "All Things Are Possible" with "Doer of the Word". Doer of the Word was a Christian hit and Gerry Beckley sang background vocals on the record, but he did the recording at Chris Christian's studio in Dallas and Dan was not present.

Peek would later release an autobiography entitled An American Band, based on America's most successful period, and his own spiritual journey.Peek's first album and single became big hits on contemporary Christian music (CCM) radio stations and charts. The single "All Things Are Possible" not only hit number 1 on the CCM singles chart, it also crossed over to the Billboard singles and adult contemporary charts, becoming one of the earliest CCM's crossover hits.

Peek lost much of the momentum gained by the success of his initial hit by not releasing a second album for five years, 1984's Doer of the Word. While several of his songs would make the CCM charts, none crossed over to the Pop or Adult Contemporary charts. The delay really may have cost Peek in that regard with the title track, "Doer of the Word", which was an upbeat, very America like song that was backed by Beckley. It hit number 2 on the CCM charts. 1986 saw the release of his Electrovoice album, again to the CCM market, which included a remake of "Lonely People", featuring a very similar lead vocal treatment and overall arrangement that was done on the original America version years prior. He changed some of the song's lyrics to reflect his Christian faith, for example the lines "And ride that highway in the sky" and "You never know until you try" became "And give your heart to Jesus Christ."

Peek spent much of the 1990s in semi-retirement, occasionally recording music at his home in the Cayman Islands. He released several solo projects and collaborated with Ken Marvin and Brian Gentry as "Peace" on three albums. In recent years he has released music via his web page.