- Blue Cheer
Infobox musical artist
Name = Blue Cheer
Background = group_or_band
San Francisco, CaliforniaU.S.
Years_active = 1966-1972
Label = Philips, Megaforce, Mercury, Akarma, Rainforce, Evangeline
Associated_acts = The Other Half
URL = [http://www.bluecheer.us/ www.bluecheer.us]
Current_members = Dickie Peterson
Duck McDonaldPaul Whaley
Joe Hasselvander Randy HoldenRalph Burns Kellogg (aka Ethan James); d. 2003) Norman Mayell Tony Rainier Bruce Stephens Leigh Stephens Gary Lee Yoder
Blue Cheer is a
San Francisco-based rock group that initially performed and recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and again from the mid-1980s to the present. They are credited as being pioneers of heavy metal music. According to Tim Hillsin his book, "The Many Lives of the Crystal Ballroom", "Blue Cheer was the epitome of San Francisco psychedelia. The band was rumored to have been named for a brand of LSDand promoted by renowned LSD chemist and former Grateful Deadpatron, Owsley Stanley. [ [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:gifqxqw5ldde~T1 Profile of Blue Cheer] by William Ruhlmann; www.allmusic.com.]
The band's sound was something of a departure from the music that had been coming out of the Bay Area: Blue Cheer's three musicians played heavy blues-rock, and played it very loud.
The group came together in 1966. Original personnel were
singer/ bassistDickie Peterson, guitarist Leigh Stephens, drummerPaul Whaley and three others: Dickie's brother Jerry Peterson (guitar), Val Hamanaka (keyboards) and Jerry Whiting (vocals, harmonica). Very early on, it was decided that the lineup should be trimmed down. Hamanaka & Whiting were asked to leave. And Jerry 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 versionof Eddie Cochran's " Summertime Blues" from their debut album " Vincebus Eruptum" (1968). The single peaked at #14 on the Billboard Hot 100chart, their only such hit, and the album peaked at #11 on the Billboard 200chart.
The group's sound was hard to categorise, but was definitely
blues-based, psychedelic, and loud.
The "Summertime Blues" single was backed with Dickie Petersen's original song "Out Of Focus". Petersen 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 cranks out blues covers "Rock Me Baby" and Mose Allison's "Parchment 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, [ [http://www.rockdetector.com/officialbio,1234.sm;jsessionid=560BD3029939720CAA6C78378A92FD8C Blue Cheer Biography] , Rockdetector. ] . He was replaced by Randy Holden, formerly of Los Angeles garage rockband The Other Half. On 1969's " New! Improved! Blue Cheer" there were different guitarists on side 1 and 2, Holden & Bruce Stephens. More new members came on board for this album; Guitarist Bruce Stephens. [Bruce Stephens had previously played with Leigh Stephens (no relation) in Pilot (not the "It's Magic" Pilot), one of Leigh's post-Blue Cheer projects. ] and Ralph Burns Kelloggon keyboards. Blue Cheer's style now changed to a more commercial hard rock sound à la Steppenwolf or Iron Butterfly. For the fourth album "Blue Cheer", Bruce Stephens left and was succeeded by Gary Lee Yoderwho helped complete the album.
The new line-up of Peterson, Ralph Burns Kellogg, Norman Mayell(drums) and Yoder in 1970 saw the release of "
The Original Human Being" and then 1971's " Oh! Pleasant Hope". When "Oh! Pleasant Hope" failed to dent the sales charts, Blue Cheer temporarily split up by 1972.
There was a temporary resumption in 1974 with Dickie 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
Steppenwolfbassist Nick St. Nicholasreplacing Dickie.
Dickie returned in 1978-79 with a fresh line-up(Tony Rainier on guitar and Mike Fleck on drums) but this version of the group never got out of rehearsal studios.
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 European label
Megaforce Records. Whaley left again in 1985 as drummer Bret Heartman 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. And in 1988 the trio was composed of Dickie Peterson, Andrew "Duck" McDonald(guitar) and Dave Salce(drums)
From 1988 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, The Yardbirds, Danzig, Mucky Pupand 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 & Lowlives" studio album, composed of blues-based heavy metaland one ballad. The album was produced by notable grunge producer Jack Endino. The line-up was Peterson, Whaley on drums and McDonald on guitars.
Blue Cheer followed up "Highlights" with the much heavier "
Dining with the Sharks". McDonald was replaced by German ex-Monsters guitar player Dieter Saller. Peterson was on bass and vocals again, and Paul Whaley was again on drums. Also featured is a special guest appearance by Groundhogs guitarist Tony McPhee. The album was produced by Roland Hofmann. Gary Holland(ex- Dokken) replaced Whaley on drums in 1993.
In the early 1990s, Peterson and Whaley re-located to Germany. Whaley still lives there while Peterson moved back to California in 1994. After Peterson came back to the U.S., Blue Cheer was dormant for a time.
In 1999, Peterson & Whaley got together with guitarist McDonald to resume touring as Blue Cheer.
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 Princeat the Chet Helms Memorial Tribal Stomp in San Francisco's Golden Gate Parkon October 29th, 2005, and their lively performance drew old rockers like Paul Kantnerand others from backstage to observe. They did some recordings in Virginiain Winter 2005 with Joe Hasselvanderof Raven and Pentagram on drums, due to Paul Whaley choosing to remain in Germany. [Hasselvander's connection to the band was principally Duck MacDonald. Both had been members of the Kim Simmonds Band, prior to Savoy Brownfounder Kim Simmondsdeciding to reform Savoy Brown.] 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. [ [http://metalmark.blogspot.com/2008/03/interview-with-joe-hasselvander.html Interview with Joe Hasselvander] by Metal Mark, March, 2008; "Heavy Metal Time Machine". See also [http://www.bluecheer.us/archive/andrewmacdonald_files/duck/DUCK.htm. Duck MacDonald Autobiography] at www.bluecheer.us.]
Blue Cheer's video for
Summertime Bluesmade an appearance in 2005 documentary , where Geddy Leeof Rush referred to the group as one of the first heavy metal bands.
Vincebus Eruptum" (1968) Polygram Records
Outsideinside" (1968) Polygram Records
New! Improved! Blue Cheer" (1969) Philips Records
*"Blue Cheer" (1969) Philips Records
The Original Human Being" (1970) Philips Records
* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:gifexqq5ldhe "Oh! Pleasant Hope"] (1971) Philips Records
* [http://www.metalkingdom.net/album/2243_blue_cheer_the_beast_is_back "The Beast Is Back"] (1985)
* [http://www.metalkingdom.net/album/2244_blue_cheer_blitzkrieg_over_nuremberg "Blitzkrieg Over Nuremberg"] (1989) Magnum Records
* [http://www.metalkingdom.net/album/2245_blue_cheer_highlights_and_lowlives "Highlights & Low Lives"] (1990) Thunderbolt Records
* [http://www.metalkingdom.net/album/2246_blue_cheer_dining_with_the_sharks "Dining With the Sharks"] (1992) Nibelung Records
* [http://www.musicemissions.com/artists/albums/index.php?album_id=3614 "Hello Tokyo, Bye Bye Osaka - Live In Japan 1999"] (2003)
* [http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:wnfqxqysldse "Bootleg: Live - Hamburg - London"] (2005) Rockview Records
* [http://www.rainmanrecords.com/cgi-bin/rain/rmcd136.html "What Doesn't Kill You..."] (2007) Rainman Records
* [http://www.hellridemusic.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2369 Blue Explosion - A Tribute to Blue Cheer] (2000)
Black Widow Records
* [http://www.bluecheer.us Band's Website]
* [http://www.hamptonroadsmusic.tv/UAN/showbc.html 2007 Concert Video]
* [http://www.leighstephens.net Leigh Stephens Official Website]
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