Blue Cheer's iconic 1968 lineup. L-R: Dickie Peterson, Leigh Stephens, Paul Whaley
|Origin||San Fransisco, California, USA|
|Genres||Psychedelic Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Proto-Metal, Proto-Punk|
|Years active||1967 – 1972, 1974 – 1975, 1978 – 1979, 1984 – 1994, 1999 –2009|
|Labels||Philips, Megaforce, Mercury, Akarma, Rainman|
|Associated acts||Pentagram, The Oxford Circle, The Other Half, Sopwith Camel, Silver Metre, Monsters, Raven, Mother Ocean|
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 when frontman/bassist Dickie Peterson passed away. Based in San Francisco, Blue Cheer played in a psychedelic blues rock style, and are also credited by some as one 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.
"Blue Cheer" was the name of a variety of LSD made by chemist and Grateful Dead patron Owsley Stanley and the band was probably named for that, although the name existed earlier as the name of a laundry detergent for which the LSD variety itself was named.
Golden Years (1967–1968)Edit
Blue Cheer came together in 1967. The formation of the band was organized by Dickie Peterson. Dickie 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 Dickie Peterson, guitarist Leigh Stephens and Eric Albronda as drummer. Albronda was later replaced by Paul Whaley, who was joined by Dickie's brother Jerre Peterson (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.
The band was managed by an inactive member of the Hells Angels named Gut. Early on, it was decided that the lineup should be trimmed down. 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 (And biggest) major hit was a cover version of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" from their debut album Vincebus Eruptum (1968). The single peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and the album peaked at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 chart. In Canada, the song peaked at #3 on the RPM Magazine charts. Outsideinside would come out later in 1968.
Commercial Rock Sound and Lineup Changes (1968 - 1972)Edit
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 (Largely due to Leigh's disinterest in drugs.). He was replaced by Randy Holden, formerly of Los Angeles garage rock band The Other Half. On 1969's New! Improved! Blue Cheer 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 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.
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 (Both of which featuring minimal contributions from Peterson as far as vocals and songwriting). When both albums failed to dent the sales charts, Blue Cheer temporarily split up in 1972.
First Hiatus (1970s)Edit
There was a temporary resumption in 1974 with Dickie Peterson being joined by brother Jerre, 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.
Dickie 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". The lineup would record an album entitled 7 but it wouldn't be officially released until 2012 on ShroomAngel Records.
Lineup changes, Germany, More Hiatuses (1980s–1998)Edit
Blue Cheer was once again inactive in the early 1980s. There was another attempt to reunite in 1983, but was ultimately unsuccessful. 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 an Biohazard to name a few.
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, 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-Monsters guitar 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. After Peterson came back to the U.S. (1994), Blue Cheer was dormant from 1994 to 1999.
Duck MacDonald years and Demise (1999–2009)Edit
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 with Joe Hasselvander taking over on drums at sporadic times.
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. Later on in the winter of that year, Blue Cheer did some recordings in Virginia 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 (Also done at Haseelvander's approval out of respect for Whaley). The resulting CD, What Doesn't Kill You..., released in 2007, features contributions from both Whaley and Hasselvander as a consequence.
Blue Cheer's first (and to date, only) live DVD entitled Rocks Europe was released on June 23, 2009 via Rainman Records. The live show stems from a 2008 performance at the Rockpalast show in Bonn, Germany. It also proved to be the final Blue Cheer official release while they were still an active band.
On October 12, 2009, Peterson died in Germany after 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.".
In 2017 Blue Cheer Be In Band was release online. It was Blue Cheer only song that was never release before. There are also a few more Blue Cheer demos online that was never release before (which the songs of another version where release before). To learn more please go to the video and read the description.
Dickie Peterson 1964 high school junior yearbook is the only yearbook that was found online that is a yearbook of a Blue Cheer member. No other Yearbooks of members of Blue Cheer have not been found online so fair. There is a video of the yearbook on YouTube. It is from the same YouTube channel that posted Be In Jam by Blue Cheer.
- Vincebus Eruptum (1968, Philips)
- Outsideinside (1968, Philips)
- New! Improved! (1969, Philips)
- Blue Cheer (1969, Philips)
- The Original Human Being (1970, Philips)
- Oh! Pleasant Hope (1971, Philips)
- The Beast Is Back (1984, Megaforce Records)
- Highlights & Lowlives (1990, Thunderbolt/The Magnum Music Group)
- Dining With The Sharks (1991, Nibelung Records)
- What Doesn't Kill You... (2007, Rainman Records)
- 7 (2012, ShroomAngel Records) (Recorded 1979)
- Blitzkrieg Over Nüremberg (1989, Nibelung Records)
- Live & Unreleased, Vol. 1: '68/'74 (1996, Captain Trip)
- Live & Unreleased, Vol. 2: Live at San Jose Civic Centre, 1968 & More (1996, Captain Trip)
- Hello Tokyo, Bye Bye Osaka – Live in Japan 1999 (1999, Captain Trip)
- Live Bootleg: London – Hamburg (2005, Rockview)
- Rocks Europe (2009, Rainman)
- Live at Anti WAA Festival 1989 (2014, Nibelung Records)
- Louder Than God (The Best Of Blue Cheer) (1988, Rhino)
- The History Of Blue Cheer - Good Times Are So Hard To Find (1990, Mercury)
- Dickie Peterson – bass, vocals (1967–1972, 1974–1975, 1978–1979, 1984–1994, 1999–2009; died 2009)
- Leigh Stephens – guitar (1967–1968, 2005)
- Eric Albronda – drums (1967)
- Paul Whaley – drums (1967–1969, 1969, 1984–1985, 1990–1993, 1999–2005, 2005–2009)
- Jerre Peterson – guitar (1967, 1974–1975) (Deceased)
- Vale Hamanaka – keyboards (1967)
- Jere Whiting – vocals, harmonica (1967)
- Randy Holden – guitar (1968–1969)
- Mitch Mitchell – drums (1969)
- Tom Weisser – guitar (1969)
- Bruce Stephens – guitar (1969) (Deceased)
- Ralph Burns Kellogg – keyboards (1969–1972; died 2003)
- Norman Mayell – drums (1969–1972)
- Gary Lee Yoder – guitar (1969–1972) (Deceased)
- Troy Spence Jr.- guitar (1972-1974)
- James L. Curry- drums (1972-1974)
- Ruben de Fuentes – guitar (1974–1975, 1987–1988)
- Terry Rae – drums (1974–1975)
- Nick St. Nicholas – bass, vocals (1975)
- Tony Rainier – guitar (1978–1979, 1984–1987)
- Mike Fleck – drums (1978–1979)
- Brent Harknett – drums (1985–1987)
- Billy Carmassi – drums (1987)
- Eric Davis – drums (1987–1988)
- Andrew "Duck" MacDonald – guitar (1988–1990, 1999–2005, 2005–2009)
- David Salce – drums (1988–1990)
- Dieter Saller – guitar (1990–1994)
- Gary Holland – drums (1993–1994)
- Prairie Prince – drums (2005)
- Joe Hasselvander – drums (2005)