Willie Leacox, America Drummer, Dies at 74

by Maria Hartfield

Former drummer for the rock band America, Willie Leacox, passed away after a long life dedicated to music. The 74-year-old musician died at his home in Stockton, California. The cause of death is still impending.

The 1970s band America confirmed the late drummers’ death in a statement. “We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our brother and beloved drummer of 41 years,” it starts.

“Willie was an integral part of the America family and we cherish the time that we shared with him through this crazy journey,” the Grammy-award-winning group reflected. “We send our love to the Leacox family through this difficult time, and to all that knew Wil. Rest In peace, Wil. We love you.”

America’s rise to fame

America came together in London originally consisting of Dewey Bunnell, Dan Peek, and Gerry Beckley in the 1970s. They quickly rose to fame earning praise for their unique vocal harmonies and acoustic rock sound. Leacox joined the band in March of 1973 replacing former band member Dave Atwood. Their biggest hit to date is “A Horse with No Name” topping the charts in Canada, Finland, and the United States.

In an interview with KMA News in 2012, Leacox said, “My dad was a drummer, my uncle was a drummer, my older cousin was a drummer – so I kind of learned from them. After college, I found my way to the west coast and started freelancing around L.A. and playing the club circuit and a bunch of recording sessions during the day … sometimes at night as well. I met an actor and played drums on his recording. He knew that America was looking for a drummer, so I set up and audition and got lucky, and got the gig.”

Leacox admitted he didn’t know how the band survived for so long adding, “But we love what we do. We’re like a family, so we’re just going to keep on until we can’t.”

The Leacox family mourns Willie’s death

Willie’s family came out with their own statement saying, “He [Willie] will be missed by his brother, Jim Leacox, and sister, Janie Casteel, their spouses, his nieces and nephews, his California friends, plus his many friends and fans around the world.”

In an ode to Willie’s passion for music, the note continues adding that “Wil would want to ensure that students receive the same inspiration and opportunities he received throughout his long and successful musical career.” The family asks that fans honor Willie by sending any donations to the Leacox Family Music Education Scholarship or The Greater Shenandoah Historical Society. There is also an opportunity to plant a Memorial Tree in memory of Willie, born William Robert “Wil” Leacox.

Details regarding surrounding memorial services honoring Willie will occur at a later date.