Former America Drummer Willie Leacox Dead at 74
Former America drummer Willie Leacox has died at 74, the band and his family confirmed.
While no cause of death was given, an obituary notice stated that he died at home in Stockton, Calif., after a “lifelong dedication to music.”
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our brother and beloved drummer of 41 years,” America said in a statement. “Willie was an integral part of the America family and we cherish the time that we shared with him through this crazy journey. 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.”
The family notice reported that Leacox would 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.” Noting his passion for music, the noticed added that “Wil would want to ensure that students receive the same inspiration and opportunities he received throughout his long and successful musical career,” suggesting that fans could send a memorial contribution to the family’s music education scholarship.
“My dad was a drummer, my uncle was a drummer, my older cousin was a drummer – so I kind of learned from them,” Leacox told KMA News in 2012. “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.” He said he wasn’t sure how the band survived so long. “But we love what we do. We're like a family, so we're just going to keep on until we can’t.”
Announcing Leacox's retirement two years later, America paid tribute to his “dedicated hard work." "He has been a uniquely superb drummer throughout those many years and his contributions to our recordings and live show speak for themselves," they said.
"Our rich musical history together includes having shared a lifetime of adventures and experiences in this crazy business of music which will never be forgotten. … Our hope is that you will enjoy your retirement and be able to spend more quality time with your family and friends away from the rigors of life on the road, and at the end of the day we’ll all be able to say we left our mark!”