IN 1972, Dewey Bunnell was living in a cluttered cowman's house on a farm outside London and trying desperately to tap into some musical inspiration. Bunnell and his band, America, were fresh from their debut album and its No. 1 hit "A Horse With No Name," and the pressure was on for a new single. That's when Bunnell latched onto an old memory of the Pacific Coast Highway.
Bunnell, like his bandmates, was a military brat, and in the early 1960s his father had been stationed at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc. On weekends, the family of five would pile into their Ford Country Squire station wagon and head south for a day at the beach or Disneyland. "One time, it was 1963 when I was in seventh grade, we got a flat tire and we're standing on the side of the road and I was staring at this highway sign. It said 'Ventura' on it and it just stuck with me. It was a sunny day and the ocean there, all of it."
They came together in "Ventura Highway," the hit Bunnell was searching for:
\o7Ventura Highway in the sunshine
Where the days are longer/The nights are stronger