When I saw Blue Cheer pull up to the Launchpad in a beat-up old Dodge panel van I just couldn’t believe it. I guess that I expected that after 40 years of touring they’d at least have a bus of some sort to tour in, or at least a trailer! But no, these guys are touring the country in a small van with no trailer.
The three piece rock group which began in the late 60’s is comprised of original bass player, Dickie Peterson, original drummer Paul Whaley and the new guy ... guitarist Duck McDonald, who joined the Cheer some 20-odd years ago.
Dickey lays on top of the amp stacks while touring in the cramped van, and considering these guys are all now in their 60s, it astonishes me that they are still touring.
Sure there are a handful of bands from their era who still tour... The Rolling Stones fly private jets from show to show and stay in 5 star hotels and make millions of dollars each night. Same could be said for what’s left of the Who, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane and many other bands who grew up with Blue Cheer. But Blue Cheer still to this day is living on the fringes, traveling like gypsies to play small rock clubs across the country for barely enough gas money to make it to the next city.
In 1968 Blue Cheer dropped their first album, Vincebus Eruptum, an album that to this day sounds “heavy” and their fuzz-drenched live shows are still still to this day “louder than God”.
I got the chance to talk with Dickie and the boys after the show and got a little insight into their world. I have never meet a band who was so chill, engaging and unpretentious. I expressed to the guys my appreciation for them basically inventing heavy psychedelic rock and never giving in and becoming commercial corporate bitches or watering-down their powerful music. Dickie’s response was, “We’ve been renegades our whole lives.” Dickie told me how they’ve always played what they wanted to play without worrying about who would like it or not. He said people HATED them in the beginning and still do, but the fans that have developed over the years are the best fans in the world.
When I asked Dickie what it was like to play shows with the likes of Hendrix, Joplin and the Grateful Dead back in the 60s he told me about how they find it really hard to believe that they did all the same drugs (perhaps they still do) and partied as all those people (and probably did ten times as much) but somehow the others all dead and Blue Cheer is still very much alive and touring. What really amazed me is that are not deaf.
They are the ultimate survivors and have stayed true to them selves and their music for four decades. The chance to see them here in Albuquerque in a small venue and hang out with them after the show was something I’ll never forget. I hope these guys keep doing what they do best, ROCK!
LONG LIVE BLUE CHEER!
I found another decent link to a recent Blue Cheer show here.