Dickie Peterson, Paul Whaley, Randy Holden
BLUE CHEER PHOTO COLLECTION
(Click on photos in gallery below to view larger version with instructions for ordering)
Phoenix Memorial Coliseum – 10/5/68
BLUE CHEER – Formed 1967, Boston, Massachusetts. Dickie Peterson (b. 1948, Grand Forks, North Dakota), vocals, bass; Paul Whaley, drums; Bruce “Leigh” Stephens, guitar; [Later members: Randy Holden, guitar; Norman Mayall (b. 1942, Chicago, Illinois), drums; Bruce Stephens (b. 1946), vocals, guitar; Ralph Burns Kellog, keyboards; Gary Yoder, guitar; Tony Rainier, guitar]
Blue Cheer came together in 1967. The formation of the band was organised by Eric Albronda and Jerry Russell, music aficionados who wanted to become involved with the San Francisco music scene of the 1960s. Both moved with Dickie Peterson from Davis, California, to San Francisco. 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 Jerry 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.
Blue Cheer was managed by an ex-member of the Hells Angels named Gut. Early on, it was decided that the lineup should be trimmed down. It is said that the band decided to adopt a power trio configuration after seeing Jimi Hendrix perform at the Monterey Pop Festival. 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. 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.
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” and Mose Allison’s “Parchman Farm” (titled “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. 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 Whalley 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 Whalley 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.
Blue Cheer – Summertime Blues – 1968
BLUE CHEER – Discography
- 1968 – Vincebus Eruptum (Philips)
- 1968 – Outsideinside (-L. Stephens, + Randy Holden)
- 1969 – New! Improved! (-Whaley, -Holden, +Norman Mayall, +Bruce Stephens, +Ralph Burns Kellog, keyboards)
- 1969 – Blue Cheer
- 1970 – The Original Human Beings (-B. Stephens, +Gary Yoder
- 1971 – Oh Pleasant Hope
- [group disbands]
- 1985 – [group re-forms: Peterson, Whaley, Ranier)
- 1989 – The Beast Is Back (Megaforce) (-Whaley)
- 1986 – Louder Than God
- 1986 – The Best of Blue Cheer (Rhino)
BLUE CHEER LINKS
This is the first time I’ve heard Mitch Mitchell has any connection to Blue Cheer other than playing on the same bill.I think whoever told you that was pulling your leg or straight up lying.Just letting you know.
Doug – Thanks for the input. The info on Blue Cheer came from what we believed to be an accurate Wikipedia page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Cheer). We just did more research and also found this link: https://blogcritics.org/music-review-blue-cheer-rocks-europe/ which seems to indicate that Mitch did have a brief history with the band. We are always interested in keeping the facts straight so please let us know if you think this data is incorrect.
I just read Mitch’s book.If I could leave a screen shot, I would love to show what he said about Blue Cheer.If there’s a way for me to forward a screen shot, contact me at my email address.I think you’d be quite interested in his remarks!
Not sure what the Boston, Massachusetts connection is – Blue Cheer is thoroughly California-based. Various members got their starts and / or lived in Davis, California and Sacramento, but for the most part they were a San Francisco band through and through.
I first met Jerry Whiting in Northport Maine in the early 1970s, a true party dog who eventually became a preacher.
I watch his boys grow up and have jammed with both Jessie and Jake many times. Like their father the Whiting boys are great vocalists and friends who are proud of their dad and Blue Cheer.