Dickie Peterson

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Dickie Peterson
Dickie Peterson in Cologne in 2008
Background information
Born(1946-09-12)September 12, 1946
Grand Forks, North Dakota, U.S.
DiedOctober 12, 2009(2009-10-12) (aged 63)
Erkelenz, Germany
Genres Blues rock, psychedelic rock, heavy metal
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter
Instruments Bass, vocals, guitar, drums
Years active1966–2009
Associated actsGroup B, Blue Cheer, Hank Davison Band, Mother Ocean

Richard Allan Peterson [1] (September 12, 1946 – October 12, 2009) [2] 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.

Blue Cheer band

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.



Born in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Peterson played bass from the age of thirteen onward, and knew at the age of eight that he wanted to become a professional musician. He came from a musical family: his father played trombone, his mother played piano and his brother, Jerry Peterson, initially played flute. Drums were Peterson's first instrument.

Grand Forks, North Dakota City in North Dakota, United States

Grand Forks is the third-largest city in the American state of North Dakota and is the county seat of Grand Forks County. According to the 2010 census, the city's population was 52,838, while the total of the city and surrounding metropolitan area was 98,461. Grand Forks, along with its twin city of East Grand Forks, Minnesota, forms the center of the Grand Forks, ND-MN Metropolitan Statistical Area, which is often called Greater Grand Forks or the Grand Cities.

Peterson spent much of his youth in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, the twin city to Grand Forks, North Dakota, where he was born. [3] [4] He attended Grand Forks Central High School from grade 10 through grade 12. [5] His parents died when he was young, resulting in him living with his aunt and uncle on a farm in North Dakota, for part of his youth. [4]

East Grand Forks, Minnesota City in Minnesota, United States

East Grand Forks is a city in Polk County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 8,601 at the 2010 Census, making it the largest community in Polk County.

Grand Forks Central High School high school in Grand Forks, North Dakota, United States

Grand Forks Central High School (GFC) is a public senor high school in the Grand Forks Public Schools district. It is located in downtown Grand Forks. Central is regionally renowned in ice hockey and cross country.

Peterson cited Otis Redding as a significant influence. [6] He credited his brother, the late Jerre Peterson, [7] as being his lifelong musical influence. [8] Jerre was one of the lead guitarists in the initial lineup of Blue Cheer (the other being Leigh Stephens) and played with various formations of the band in later years. [9]

Otis Redding American singer, songwriter and record producer

Otis Ray Redding Jr. was an American singer, songwriter, record producer, arranger, and talent scout. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul music and rhythm and blues. Redding's style of singing gained inspiration from the gospel music that preceded the genre. His singing style influenced many other soul artists of the 1960s.

Leigh Stephens is an American guitarist and songwriter best known for being former lead guitarist of the San Francisco psychedelic rock group Blue Cheer.

Peterson spent much of the past two decades preceding his death based in Germany, playing with Blue Cheer and other groups on occasion. In 1998 and 1999, he played various dates in Germany with the Hank Davison Band and as an acoustic duo with Hank Davison under the name "Dos Hombres." [10] He appeared on the album, Hank Davison and Friends - Real Live. In 2001 and 2002, Peterson played, principally in Germany, with Mother Ocean, a group he formed that included former Blue Cheer guitarist Tony Rainier, as well as brother Jerry Peterson. [11]

Throughout his life, Peterson's relationship to music had been all-consuming. Peterson provided the following self-description: "I've been married twice, I’ve had numerous girlfriends, and they’ll all tell you that if I’m not playing music I am an animal to live with. ...Music is a place where I get to deal with a lot of my emotion and displaced energy. I always only wanted to play music, and that’s all I still want to do." [8]

In his early life Peterson was a user of various drugs and was a heroin addict for a number of years. In 2007, Peterson said he believed LSD and other similar drugs can have positive effects, but that he and other members of Blue Cheer "took it over the top". [12] He had ceased much of his drug use by the mid-1970s, and stopped drinking ten years before his death. [13]

Blue Cheer has been considered a pioneering band in many genres. Peterson did not consider that the band belonged to any particular genre: "People keep trying to say that we’re heavy metal or grunge or punk, or we’re this or that. The reality is, we’re just a power trio, and we play ultra blues, and it’s rock ‘n roll. It’s really simple what we do." [8]

On October 12, 2009, Peterson died [2] in Erkelenz, Germany at the age of 63 from liver cancer, after prostate cancer spread throughout his body. [12] [14] He was survived by his second wife, [15] his former wife, [16] a daughter from his first marriage, [17] and a six-year-old grandson. [1] [14] [18] [19]

Peterson was cremated and his ashes given to his daughter, Corrina. Peterson wished his ashes to be spread in the Rhine River in Germany and in the Redwoods of Northern California, at a site to be determined by his daughter. [20]

Neil Peart, the drummer for Rush, said in tribute to Peterson:

Dickie Peterson was present at the creation — stood at the roaring heart of the creation, a primal scream through wild hair, bass hung low, in an aural apocalypse of defiant energy. His music left deafening echoes in a thousand other bands in the following decades, thrilling some, angering others, and disturbing everything — like art is supposed to do. [21]


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  1. 1 2 Comments of Marilyn (Peterson) Stephens, first wife of Dickie Peterson, October 13, 2009. Tribute blog to Dickie Peterson; www.inlog.org. Peterson's first wife asserts that his year of birth was 1946, rather than 1948.
  2. 1 2 R.I.P. Richard ‘Dickie’ Peterson (Blue Cheer) (1948 – 2009); www.inlog.org.
  3. Peterson remained a resident of Grand Forks; his time in East Grand Forks was primarily to listen to emerging local bands. See Comments on background of Dickie Peterson [ permanent dead link ]; www.areavoices.com.
  4. 1 2 Chuck Haga, "Final cheer for a Blue Cheer". Grand Forks Herald , October 22, 2009; www.grandforksherald.com.
  5. Online comment by former schoolmate in response to Chuck Haga, "Final cheer for a Blue Cheer". Grand Forks Herald, October 22, 2009; www.grandforksherald.com.
  6. Interview with Dickie Peterson by Jason Ritchie, 2003; www.getreadytorock.com.
  7. Died August 9, 2002; see "Blue Cheer News". Archived from the original on September 20, 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-18.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. 1 2 3 Interview with Dickie Peterson Archived 2011-09-28 at the Wayback Machine by Ken Schneider, 2005; www.stonerock.com.
  9. Interview with Dickie Peterson by John Battles, 2007; www.roctober.com.
  10. Blue Cheer News Archived 2011-07-25 at the Wayback Machine , "Dickie Peterson-Hank Davison Band-Dos Hombres"
  11. See Notice of 2001 performance and Notice of 2002 performance; www.klubder40.de
  12. 1 2 Dickie Peterson dies at 63; bassist and lead singer for the power trio Blue Cheer Los Angeles Times, October 16, 2009.
  13. As recounted by Blue Cheer bandmate Andrew "Duck" MacDonald in interview with Chuck Haga,"Final cheer for a Blue Cheer". Grand Forks Herald, October 22, 2009; www.grandforksherald.com.
  14. 1 2 William Grimes, Dickie Peterson, Singer for Rock Band Blue Cheer, Dies at 63. Obituary, The New York Times , October 13, 2009.
  15. Ilka Diener
  16. Marilyn (Peterson) Stephens
  17. Corrina Peterson-Kaltenrieder, age 36, a former professional ballerina, previously associated with the Texas Ballet Theatre; see Performance announcement and bio, 2006; www.rpcb.net.
  18. Blue Cheer's Dickie Peterson Remembered [ permanent dead link ]; www.roadrunnerrecords.com.
  19. Vincent; see Performance announcement and bio of Corrina Peterson; www.rpcb.net.
  20. Comments of Blue Cheer co-founder, producer and former manager Eric Albronda, October 28, 2009 at Blue Cheer Message Board (Thread: "Death of Dickie"); www.bluecheer.proboards.com.
  21. "Louder Than God": Rush's Neil Peart Remembers Blue Cheer's Dickie Peterson. Rolling Stone Rock & Roll Daily, October 21, 2009; www.rollingstone.com.