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Blue Cheer is a pioneering American rock band known for its influential role in the development of heavy metal and hard rock music. Formed in 1966 in San Francisco, California, the band went through various lineup changes over the years and experienced both commercial success and critical acclaim. Here is a detailed history of Blue Cheer:
Formation and Early Years (1966-1967):
1. Formation: Blue Cheer was founded by Dickie Peterson (bass, vocals), Paul Whaley (drums), and Leigh Stephens (guitar) in 1966. The band's name was a reference to a type of LSD known for its potency.
2. Psychedelic Roots: In its early days, Blue Cheer was associated with the psychedelic rock scene in San Francisco, sharing stages with bands like Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead. However, their music had a heavier and more aggressive edge.
3. Vincebus Eruptum (1968): In 1968, Blue Cheer released their debut album, "Vincebus Eruptum," which included a cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues." This song became their signature tune and a hit single, peaking at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100.
The Louder, The Better (1968-1969):
1. Breakthrough: Blue Cheer's sound was characterized by extremely high volume and distortion, setting them apart from their contemporaries. This approach laid the foundation for the heavy metal and hard rock genres.
2. "Outsideinside" (1968): Blue Cheer followed up their debut with "Outsideinside," featuring more original material and a continued emphasis on raw power. The album was less commercially successful but maintained their reputation as a formidable live act.
3. Lineup Changes: Stephens left the band after "Outsideinside," and Randy Holden briefly took his place. Guitarist Bruce Stephens then joined the group.
Post-1960s Era (1970s-1980s):
1. Lineup Instability: Blue Cheer experienced numerous lineup changes in the 1970s and struggled to maintain their earlier success. Peterson remained the constant factor, but the band went on hiatus several times.
2. Later Albums: They released albums like "New! Improved!" (1969), "Blue Cheer" (1970), "The Original Human Being" (1970), and "Oh! Pleasant Hope" (1971), but these failed to achieve the same level of recognition as their earlier work.
3. Reunion and Revival: Blue Cheer reunited in various formations throughout the 1980s and occasionally played live shows. Notable albums from this period include "The Beast Is Back" (1984) and "Highlights and Lowlives" (1990).
Legacy and Influence:
1. Pioneers of Heavy Metal: Blue Cheer's thunderous sound and distortion-heavy approach laid the groundwork for heavy metal and hard rock. Many consider them one of the earliest heavy metal bands.
2. Enduring Impact: Despite their limited commercial success, Blue Cheer gained a cult following and influenced countless bands, including Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Metallica.
3. Later Relevance: The band's music continued to find new listeners through reissues and re-releases of their classic albums, further solidifying their place in rock history.
Final Years and Dickie Peterson's Death (2000s):
1. Return to the Spotlight: In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Blue Cheer enjoyed a resurgence of interest. They released albums like "What Doesn't Kill You..." (2007) and continued to tour.
2. Dickie Peterson's Death: On October 12, 2009, Dickie Peterson, the band's founding member and frontman, passed away, marking the end of an era for Blue Cheer.
Blue Cheer's pioneering sound and uncompromising approach to rock music continue to be celebrated for their influence on the heavy metal and hard rock genres. Despite their turbulent history and lineup changes, their legacy remains intact as a significant force in the evolution of rock music.