Dickie Peterson, Randy Holden, and Paul Whaley in 1968
|Origin||San Francisco, California, U.S.|
|Past members||See members section|
Blue Cheer was an American rock band that initially performed and recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s and was sporadically active until 2009. Based in San Francisco, Blue Cheer played in a psychedelic blues rock or acid rock style, and are also credited as being some of the earliest pioneers of heavy metal, with their cover of "Summertime Blues" sometimes cited as the first in the genre.They have also been noted as influential in the development of genres as disparate as punk rock, stoner rock, doom metal, experimental rock, and grunge.
Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.
San Francisco, officially City and County of San Francisco and colloquially known as SF, San Fran, or "The City", is a city in—and the cultural, commercial, and financial center of—Northern California. San Francisco is the 13th most populous city in the United States, and the fourth most populous in California, with 883,305 residents as of 2018. It covers an area of about 46.89 square miles (121.4 km2), mostly at the north end of the San Francisco Peninsula in the San Francisco Bay Area, making it the second most densely populated large U.S. city, and the fifth most densely populated U.S. county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs. San Francisco is the 12th-largest metropolitan statistical area in the United States, with 4,729,484 people in 2018. With San Jose, it forms the fifth most populous combined statistical area in the United States, the San Jose–San Francisco–Oakland, CA Combined Statistical Area.
Psychedelic rock is a diverse style of rock music inspired, influenced, or representative of psychedelic culture, which is centred around perception-altering hallucinogenic drugs. The music is intended to replicate and enhance the mind-altering experiences of psychedelic drugs, most notably LSD. Many psychedelic groups differ in style, and the label is often applied spuriously.
"Blue Cheer" was the name of a variety of LSD made by chemist and Grateful Dead patron Owsley Stanleyand the band was probably named after that, although the name existed earlier, as the name of a laundry detergent after which the LSD variety itself was named.
Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), also known as acid, is a hallucinogenic drug. Effects typically include altered thoughts, feelings, and awareness of one's surroundings. Many users see or hear things that do not exist. Dilated pupils, increased blood pressure, and increased body temperature are typical. Effects typically begin within half an hour and can last for up to 12 hours. It is used mainly as a recreational drug and for spiritual reasons.
The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in Palo Alto, California. The band is known for its eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, country, jazz, bluegrass, blues, gospel, and psychedelic rock; for live performances of lengthy instrumental jams; and for its devoted fan base, known as "Deadheads". "Their music", writes Lenny Kaye, "touches on ground that most other groups don't even know exists". These various influences were distilled into a diverse and psychedelic whole that made the Grateful Dead "the pioneering Godfathers of the jam band world". The band was ranked 57th by Rolling Stone magazine in its The Greatest Artists of All Time issue. The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1994 and a recording of their May 8, 1977, performance at Cornell University's Barton Hall was added to the National Recording Registry of the Library of Congress in 2012. The Grateful Dead have sold more than 35 million albums worldwide.
Augustus Owsley Stanley III was an American audio engineer and clandestine chemist. He was a key figure in the San Francisco Bay Area hippie movement during the 1960s and played a pivotal role in the decade’s counterculture. Under the professional name Bear, he was the soundman for the rock band the Grateful Dead, whom he met when Ken Kesey invited them to an Acid Test party. As their sound engineer, Stanley frequently recorded live tapes behind his mixing board and developed their Wall of Sound sound system, one of the largest mobile public address systems ever constructed. Stanley also designed the band's trademark skull logo.
Blue Cheer came together in 1967. The band was put together by Dickie Peterson. Peterson lived at 369 Haight Street in San Francisco, where the sixties music scene was starting to hit the high note. Peterson had previously been with the Davis-based band Andrew Staples & The Oxford Circle, as well as future Blue Cheer members Paul Whaley and Gary Lee Yoder. The original Blue Cheer personnel were singer/bassist Peterson, guitarist Leigh Stephens and Eric Albronda as drummer. Albronda was later replaced by Whaley, who was joined by Peterson's brother Jerre (guitar), Vale Hamanaka (keyboards), and Jere Whiting (vocals, harmonica). Albronda continued his association with Blue Cheer as a member of Blue Cheer management, as well as being the producer or co-producer of five Blue Cheer albums.
Richard Allan Peterson known as Dickie Peterson was an American musician, best known as the bassist and lead singer for Blue Cheer. He also recorded two solo albums: Child of the Darkness and Tramp.
Davis, known prior to 1907 as Davisville, is a city in the U.S. state of California and the most populous city in Yolo County. It had a population of 65,622 in 2010, not including the on-campus population of the University of California, Davis, which was over 9,400 in 2016. As of 2016, there were 35,186 students enrolled at the university.
Paul Gene Whaley was an American drummer best known as the drummer for rock band Blue Cheer. He was the son of country music singer Paul Edward Whaley. He grew up in the towns of Vallejo and Winters, California. He played drums with a Davis, California band called the Oxford Circle. Whaley is credited on the Oxford Circle album Live at the Avalon 1966. When he left the Oxford Circle to join Blue Cheer in 1967, the former band dissolved. He was the longest-standing member in Blue Cheer following Peterson's death at age 63. Whaley died of heart failure in 2019 at the age of 72.
The band was managed by an inactive member of the Hells Angels named Allen "Gut" Terk. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, their only such hit, and the album peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 chart. In Canada, the song peaked at #3 on the RPM Magazine charts.Early on, it was decided that the lineup should be trimmed down. It was said that Blue Cheer decided to adopt a power trio configuration after seeing Jimi Hendrix perform at the Monterey Pop Festival, but was later proven to be false. Hamanaka and Whiting were asked to leave. Jerre Peterson didn't want to remain in the group without them, so he departed as well, leaving Dickie, Leigh and Paul as a trio. Their first hit was a cover version of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" from their debut album Vincebus Eruptum (1968). The single peaked at No.
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (HAMC) is a worldwide one-percenter motorcycle club whose members typically ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
A power trio is a rock and roll band format having a lineup of electric guitar, bass guitar and drum kit, leaving out the second rhythm guitar or keyboard instrument that are used in other rock music bands that are quartets and quintets. Larger rock bands use one or more additional rhythm section to fill out the sound with chords and harmony parts.
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American rock guitarist, singer, and songwriter. His mainstream career lasted only four years, but he is widely regarded as one of the most influential guitarists in history and one of the most celebrated musicians of the 20th century. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame describes him as "the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music".
The "Summertime Blues" single was backed with Dickie Peterson's original song "Out Of Focus". Peterson also contributed to the album the eight-minute "Doctor Please" and "Second Time Around", which features Paul Whaley's frantic drum solo. Filling out the record, the band cranked out blues covers "Rock Me Baby" (by B.B. King) and "Parchman Farm" (Mose Allison, but retitled "Parchment Farm").
"Rock Me Baby" is a blues standard that has become one of the most recorded blues songs of all time. It originated as "Rockin' and Rollin'", a 1951 song by Lil' Son Jackson, itself inspired by earlier blues. Renditions by Muddy Waters and B.B. King made the song well-known. When B.B. King's recording of "Rock Me Baby" was released in 1964, it became his first single to reach the Top 40 in Billboard magazine's Hot 100 chart.
Riley B. King, known professionally as B.B. King, was an American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and record producer. King introduced a sophisticated style of soloing based on fluid string bending and shimmering vibrato that influenced many later electric blues guitarists.
"Parchman Farm" or "Parchman Farm Blues" is a blues song first recorded by American Delta blues musician Bukka White in 1940. It is an autobiographical piece, in which White sings of his experience at the infamous Mississippi State Penitentiary, known as Parchman Farm.
The group underwent several personnel changes, the first occurring after the 1968 release of Outsideinside after Leigh Stephens left the band due to musical differences or, as some report, deafness.He was replaced by Randy Holden, formerly of Los Angeles garage rock band The Other Half. On 1969's New! Improved! there were different guitarists on side 1 and side 2 (Randy Holden and Bruce Stephens) due to Holden's unanticipated departure from the band. Following Holden's departure the band's lineup initially consisted of Dickie Peterson (bass), Tom Weisser (guitar), and Mitch Mitchell (drums), before Whaley returned and Bruce Stephens joined the band. Later, Ralph Burns Kellogg also joined the band on keyboards. Blue Cheer's style now changed to a more commercial hard rock sound à la Steppenwolf or Iron Butterfly. By the fourth album Blue Cheer Paul Whaley had left the band and had been replaced by Norman Mayell, and following the release of the fourth album Bruce Stephens also left the band and was succeeded by Gary Lee Yoder who helped complete the album.
Outsideinside is the second album by American power trio Blue Cheer. Philips Records released the album in August 1968, only seven months after their debut LP, Vincebus Eruptum.
Randy Holden is an American guitarist best known for his involvement with the West Coast acid rock group Blue Cheer on their third album, New! Improved! (1969). Additionally, he is a painter. His album Population II From 1970 is considered to be one of the earliest examples of doom metal.
Los Angeles, officially the City of Los Angeles is often called by its initials L.A.. It is the most populous city in California; the second most populous city in the United States, after New York City; and the third most populous city in North America, after Mexico City and New York City. With an estimated population of nearly four million people, Los Angeles is the cultural, financial, and commercial center of Southern California. The city is known for its Mediterranean-like climate, ethnic diversity, Hollywood, the entertainment industry, and its sprawling metropolis.
According to Dickie Peterson the group's lifestyle during this period caused problems with the music industry and press. Peterson said the group was outraged by the Vietnam War and society in general.
The new line-up of Peterson, Kellogg, Mayell and Yoder in 1970 saw the release of The Original Human Being , followed by 1971's Oh! Pleasant Hope . When Oh! Pleasant Hope failed to dent the sales charts, Blue Cheer temporarily split up in 1972.
There was a temporary resumption in 1974 with Peterson being joined by brother Jerry, Ruben De Fuentes (guitar)and Terry Rae (drums) for some tour dates. This grouping continued on briefly in 1975 with former Steppenwolf bassist Nick St. Nicholas replacing Dickie. The group was then largely inactive for nearly three years, until 1978.
Peterson returned in 1978–79 with a fresh line-up of Tony Rainier on guitar and Mike Fleck on drums. This version of the group went out on an American tour in 1979, primarily playing nightclubs. They played only material from the first two "heavy" Blue Cheer albums, opening their shows with "Summertime Blues".
Blue Cheer was once again inactive in the early 1980s. There was another attempt to reunite in 1983, but that fell through. In 1984, Peterson had better luck when he returned with Whaley and Rainier as Blue Cheer and a brand new album The Beast Is Back , which was released on the New York label Megaforce Records. Whaley left again in 1985 as drummer Brent Harknett took over, only to be succeeded by Billy Carmassi in 1987. That same year, Dickie led yet another new lineup of the Cheer that had Ruben De Fuentes back on guitar and Eric Davis on drums. In 1988, the line-up changed once again, being now composed of Dickie Peterson (bass), with Andrew "Duck" MacDonald (guitar) and Dave Salce (drums).
From 1989 to 1993, Blue Cheer toured mainly in Europe. During this time, they played with classic rock acts as well as then-up-and-coming bands: Mountain, Outlaws, Thunder, The Groundhogs, Ten Years After, Mucky Pup, Biohazard and others.
1989 saw the release of Blue Cheer's first official live album, Blitzkrieg over Nüremberg. This album was recorded during Blue Cheer's first European tour in decades.
1990 saw the release of the Highlights and Lowlives studio album, composed of blues-based heavy metal and one ballad. The album was co-produced by notable grunge producer Jack Endino and producer Roland Hofmann. The line-up was Peterson, Whaley on drums and MacDonald on guitars.
Blue Cheer followed up "Highlights" with the much heavier Dining with the Sharks. Duck MacDonald was replaced by German ex-Monstersguitar player Dieter Saller in 1990. Also featured is a special guest appearance by Groundhogs guitarist Tony McPhee. The album was co-produced by Roland Hofmann and Blue Cheer. Gary Holland (ex-Dokken/Great White/Britton) replaced Whaley on drums in 1993.
In the early 1990s, Peterson and Whaley re-located to Germany. In 1992 Peterson recorded his first solo album Child of the Darkness in Cologne with a band named "The Scrap Yard". The album appeared five years later in Japan on Captain Trip Records. After Peterson came back to the U.S. (1994), Blue Cheer was dormant from 1994 to 1999.
In 1999, Peterson & Whaley got together with guitarist MacDonald to resume touring as Blue Cheer. This band configuration remained largely constant from 1999 until Peterson's death in 2009.
In 2000, Blue Cheer was the subject of a tribute album, Blue Explosion – A Tribute to Blue Cheer, featuring such bands as Pentagram, Internal Void, Hogwash and Thumlock.
Peterson and Leigh Stephens were together once again in Blue Cheer with drummer Prairie Prince at the Chet Helms Memorial Tribal Stomp in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on October 29, 2005, and their lively performance drew old rockers like Paul Kantner and others from backstage to observe. They did some recordings in Virginia in Winter 2005 with Joe Hasselvander of Raven and Pentagram on drums, due to Paul Whaley choosing to remain in Germany. While Hasselvander played on the entire album, his contribution was reduced to drums on five songs, with Paul Whaley re-recording the drum parts on the balance of the album. This was because Whaley was set to rejoin the band and it was felt that he should contribute to the album, prior to touring. The resulting CD, What Doesn't Kill You... , released in 2007, features contributions from both Whaley and Hasselvander as a consequence.
Blue Cheer's video for "Summertime Blues" made an appearance in 2005 documentary Metal: A Headbanger's Journey , where Geddy Lee of Rush referred to the group as one of the first heavy metal bands.
On October 12, 2009, Peterson diedin Germany after the development and spread of prostate cancer. After Peterson's death, longtime Blue Cheer guitarist Andrew MacDonald wrote on the group's website that "Blue Cheer is done. Out of respect for Dickie, Blue Cheer (will) never become a viable touring band again.". Under ten years later, in January 2019, drummer Paul Whaley died of heart failure.
In recent years, a dispute has arisen as to ownership of the Blue Cheer band name. It was reported that, as of the early 2000s (decade), former Blue Cheer guitarist Randy Holden, assisted by Randy Pratt of The Lizards band, had trademarked the Blue Cheer band name. Holden's association with Blue Cheer was quite brief; his only recorded output with the band is three tracks on New! Improved! from 1969.The matter had upset Dickie Peterson, given his position as a co-founder of the band and the only continuing member since its inception, but does not appear to have been resolved.
According to Randy Pratt, this report is not entirely accurate. Pratt provides uncited commentaryas follows:
The Blue Cheer band name was trademarked in 2000 by fan and professional musician Randy Pratt. Pratt put the trademark in former Blue Cheer guitarist Randy Holden's possession after Dickie Peterson said he was finished with Blue Cheer and wanted nothing to do with it ever again, with his sole future interest in his new band, 'Mother Ocean.
Blue Cheer is often credited as one of the very earliest pioneers of heavy metal and their version of "Summertime Blues" has been cited as the first heavy metal song.According to Tim Hills in his book, The Many Lives of the Crystal Ballroom , "Blue Cheer was the epitome of San Francisco psychedelia." Jim Morrison of The Doors characterized the group as "the single most powerful band I've ever seen" and Eric Clapton defined them as "probably the originators of heavy metal". Blue Cheer influenced such late 1970s bands as East-European psychedelic hardcore band Galloping Coroners.
|Year||Album||US Top 200|
|1970||The Original Human Being||188|
|1971||Oh! Pleasant Hope||–|
|1984||The Beast Is Back||–|
|1990||Highlights and Lowlives||–|
|1991||Dining with the Sharks||–|
|2007||What Doesn't Kill You...||–|
|Year||Title||Peak chart positions||Album|
|1968||"Summertime Blues" b/w "Out Of Focus"||3||14||Vincebus Eruptum|
|"Just a Little Bit" b/w "Gypsy Ball"||—||92||Outsideinside|
|"Feathers From Your Tree" b/w "Sun Cycle"||—||—|
|1969||"The Hunter" b/w "Come And Get It"||—||—|
|"West Coast Child of Sunshine" b/w "When It All Gets Old"||—||—||New! Improved!|
|"All Night Long" b/w "Fortunes"||—||—||non-album tracks*|
|1970||"Hello L.A., Bye-Bye Birmingham" b/w "Natural Man"||—||—||Blue Cheer*|
|"Fool" b/w "Ain't That The Way"||—||—|
|"Pilot" b/w "Babaji (Twilight Raga)"||—||—||The Original Human Being|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that country.|
* The 2007 Japanese mini-LP sleeve reissue of Blue Cheer contains the mono non-LP single "All Night Long" b/w "Fortunes" along with the single versions of "Fool" and "Ain't That The Way" as bonus tracks.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Blue Cheer .|
Vincebus Eruptum is the debut album of American rock band Blue Cheer. Released on January 16, 1968, the album features a heavy-thunderous blues sound, which would later be known as heavy metal. It also contains elements of acid rock, experimental rock, blues rock, stoner rock, and garage rock.
"Summertime Blues" is a song co-written and recorded by American rockabilly artist Eddie Cochran. It was written by Cochran and his manager Jerry Capehart. Originally a single B-side, it was released in August 1958 and peaked at number 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 29, 1958 and number 18 on the UK Singles Chart. It has been covered by many artists, including being a number-one hit for country music artist Alan Jackson, and scoring notable hits in versions by The Who, Blue Cheer and Brian Setzer, the last of whom recorded his version for the 1987 film La Bamba, where he portrayed Cochran. Jimi Hendrix performed it in concert.
Leigh Stephens is an American guitarist and songwriter best known for being former lead guitarist of the San Francisco psychedelic rock group Blue Cheer.
New! Improved! is the third album by Blue Cheer, first released in March 1969 on Philips Records. It was re-released in 1994 by Repertoire with two bonus tracks, in 1999 by Italian indie label Akarma Records and in 2007 in Japan within a mini-LP sleeve. The album features Randy Holden on guitar on side B. This is the only studio recording of Holden with Blue Cheer.
Blue Cheer is the fourth album by American rock band Blue Cheer. It was recorded at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco and released in December 1969 by Philips Records. Gary Lee Yoder contributed songwriting for the opening and closing tracks and would later join the group as guitarist on their next album The Original Human Being.
Joe Hasselvander is an American musician who has been playing professionally since nine years old in 1966. He was self-taught, playing the violin and later the drums. He has been the drummer of the NWOBHM Raven since 1987, and was a member of the influential doom metal band Pentagram.
The Original Human Being is Blue Cheer's fifth album. It was released in 1970 and shows Blue Cheer exploring a more psychedelic and laid‑back rock and roll with horn sections on a few of the songs. This album features a very unusual, and different, song for Blue Cheer: "Babaji ", which features extensive use of sitar and synthesizer. These instruments were only used one other time in the song "I'm the Light" on the album Oh! Pleasant Hope.
The Savage Resurrection was an American psychedelic rock band from the San Francisco Bay area, and were active in between 1967 and 1968. The band were known as one of the youngest psychedelic rock bands in the area, with their 16-year-old lead guitarist, Randy Hammon, who is the cousin of Blue Cheer drummer Paul Whaley. There was only one member of the band who wasn’t a teenager, and it was Steve Lage who was 21.
Eric Albronda was a co-founder of the band Blue Cheer. Along with Jerry Russell, Albronda initially organized the San Francisco-based band in 1966 and provided financing. Albronda was also the first drummer for the band, prior to being replaced by Paul Whaley. He then was involved in Blue Cheer's management and produced or co-produced five of the band's albums. He also co-produced Red Weather, the first solo album by former Blue Cheer guitarist Leigh Stephens, as well as the eponymous sole album by one of Stephens' post Blue Cheer bands, Pilot.
Oh! Pleasant Hope is the sixth, and last, album by Blue Cheer until 1983's The Beast Is Back. It features less psychedelia and hard rock and includes more folk rock elements. This is an unusual Blue Cheer album in that Dickie Peterson only sings lead on three songs. Another unusual aspect is that the song "I'm the Light" features extensive use of the sitar and synthesizer, although on the previous album The Original Human Being the song "Babaji " also featured extensive use of the aforementioned instruments.
The Beast Is Back is the seventh album by a newly reformed Blue Cheer, 13 years after their previous album, Oh! Pleasant Hope (1971). It contains re-recorded versions of some of the band's most popular songs from their late-1960s heyday as well as new material. The album features founding members Dickie Peterson and Paul Whaley. Original guitarist Leigh Stephens did not participate in the reunion.
Highlights and Lowlives is the eighth studio album by American rock band Blue Cheer, released in 1990 and produced by Jack Endino. The bonus track Blues Cadillac is on some versions/releases and can be hidden on some of the CDs.
What Doesn't Kill You... is the tenth studio album recorded by American rock band Blue Cheer. It includes a remake of their song "Just a Little Bit" originally from their album Outsideinside and a cover of the classic blues song "Born Under a Bad Sign." David Fricke has called the album "a strong studio calling card." The album features Pentagram drummer Joe Hasselvander on half of the album's tracks while the other half features original drummer, Paul Whaley. The title alludes to the Nietzsche quote.
"Just a Little Bit" is a song by rock band Blue Cheer featured on the album Outsideinside. It is one of two Blue Cheer songs to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 92. The band did a remake of the song for their album What Doesn't Kill You... Drummer Neil Peart of Rush later used one of the drum patterns from the song for the ending of their cover of "Summertime Blues".
Dining With the Sharks is the ninth studio album by American rock band Blue Cheer. It features a cover of Jimi Hendrix's classic "Foxy Lady".
Blitzkrieg Over Nüremberg is the first live album by American blues-rock band Blue Cheer. It features a cover of Jimi Hendrix's classic "Red House".