It was 50 years ago today (March 25th, 1972) that America‘s “A Horse With No Name” became the band’s first Number One hit. The tune, which was written by co-founder Dewey Bunnell, displaced Neil Young‘s “Heart Of Gold” from the top spot — and couldn’t stop some critics carping that America’s hit was actually a pale imitation of Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young.

Dewey Bunnell recalled to us his and bandmates Gerry Beckley and Dan Peek‘s early pre-fame High School days when the group was living overseas: “We were at a U.S. Air Force base in England — that’s where we met. And we had these kind of similar interests in the music world, and we knocked around London and saw all these great acts of the late-’60s and stuff going on there; the Rolling Stones in Hyde Park. It was just an exciting time.”

Gerry Beckley told us in the early-’70s, both America and the Eagles broke down radio boundaries by being major acts that allowed two very distinct voices to represent the band on the airwaves: “We were in the same office with those guys at the start, and I remember after ‘Take It Easy’ there was some debate — not everybody was sure that ‘Witchy Woman’ was the way to go, because it was Don singing. But because they did — and it was very similar to what Dewey (Bunnell) and I did with ‘A Horse With No Name’ followed by ‘I Need You’ — you right at the start establish this thing of there’s going to be a variety of directions.”

America went on to score a further six Top 10 hits — with only 1975’s “Sister Golden Hair” going all the way to Number One.

America performs tonight (March 25th) in Lowell, Massachusetts at Lowell Memorial Auditorium.

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