Dickie Peterson
Dickie Peterson 1974
Peterson photographed in
Sacramento in 1974, by Ken Magri.
Background information
Birth Name Richard Allen Peterson
Alias Dickie
Born September 12, 1946,
Grand Forks, North Dakota
Died October 12, 2009,
Erkelenz, Germany
Occupation Musician
Genres Blues, Proto-Punk, Proto-Metal, Psychedelic Rock, Hard Rock
Instrument(s) Vocals, Bass, Guitar
Years active 1966 - 2009
Labels MCA, Rainman, Captain Trip Records
Associated acts Blue Cheer, Group B, Peterbilt, Thrasher, Hank Davison Band, Mother Ocean
Website Blue Cheer Archive

Dickie Peterson (September 12, 1946 - October 12, 2009) was a musician best known as being the bassist and vocalist for proto-metal band Blue Cheer. Peterson's diaphragm-driven vocal delivery and colossal bass tone, often complimented by several Marshall amps, gave distinction and reputation to his band which was often referred to as one of the loudest of their era.

In regards to Blue Cheer Peterson would be the sole constant member through lineup and sound changes in the band's 42 year run, up until his death in 2009. Along with recording eleven studio albums with the group, Peterson also contributed bass to two other albums for the Japanese label Captain Trip in the late 90s as one of many bands he would perform with in between Blue Cheer tenures.


Blue CheerEdit

  • For more information, feel free to view the Riffipedia page on Blue Cheer.

Preceding Blue Cheer Peterson had been involved with Group "B" along with his brother Jerre Peterson. Peterson had also 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. Living in the Bay Area of California, Peterson would found Blue Cheer in 1967 with himself, Leigh Stephens and Eric Albronda, the latter dropping the drum role to become the band's producer or co-producer for five albums. Paul Whaley would take over the drum role and while the band would at one point become a sextet, would quickly revert into a power trio in time for recording their debut album.

Vincebus Eruptum would see release on 16 January 1968, with the lead single being a cover of "Summertime Blues" by Eddie Cochran. The album would be a success, peaking at No. 11 on the Billboard 200 while "Summertime Blues" would peak at No. 14. Vincebus Eruptum has been consistently praised by critics and has been observed by many as a proto-metal album, some even considering it the first heavy metal record. Blue Cheer would tour heavily in support of Vincebus Eruptum, sharing the stage with the likes of The Grateful Dead, The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Arthur Brown among others. A second studio album in OutsideInside saw release that August, peaking at No. 90 on the Billboard 200 while the album's single "Just a Little Bit" peaked at No. 92. However by the time the album was released founding guitarist Leigh Stephens would leave the group due to disinterest in the band's increasing drug usage.

Randy Holden would take over the guitar role, touring with the band through most of 1968. However when it came time to record a third studio album, Holden would quit the band over managerial conflicts and a disinterest in drugs, ironically for the same reason as Stephens. New! Improved! saw release in April 1969 with Holden's only recordings with the band, along with a new lineup performing commercial rock ala Steppenwolf. Eventually Whaley would leave the group, leaving Peterson the sole original member. A self-titled Blue Cheer album would see release in late 1968, with two more albums by this lineup following (1969's The Original Human Being and 1970's Oh! Pleasant Hope). Peterson's role as songwriter would diminish with each record and by the last two would only contribute vocals and bass to a handful of tracks, likely stemming from his increasing heroin abuse. Blue Cheer would disband in 1972 after Oh! Pleasant Hope failed to chart.

In his early life Peterson was a user of various drugs and was a heroin addict for a number of years. In 2007, Peterson said he believed LSD and other similar drugs can have positive effects, but that he and other members of Blue Cheer "took it over the top".[1] He had ceased much of his drug use by the mid-1970s, and stopped drinking ten years before his death.[2]

In 1974, Peterson was in Sacramento, California, forming a new band, Peterbuilt, with brother Jerre Peterson, guitarist Troy Spence and drummer Jay Curry. Peterbuilt was a more standard rhythm and blues band, with Dickie and Spence sharing songwriting duties. The group performed at pubs and night clubs around the West Coast, but never recorded, and disbanded a year later.

Following failed restarts and a hiatus, 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.

In the late 1980s Peterson would relocate to Germany, where he would largely live for the rest of his days. 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). This lineup would lead to the band's first live album Blitzkrieg Over Nüremberg.

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. Two more Blue Cheer albums would come in the early 1990s: The Jack Endino-produced Highlights & Lowlives and 1991's Dining With The Sharks, both of which largely ignored by critics and attaining mixed reviews. Blue Cheer would go dormant between 1994 and 1999. Peterson and drummer Paul Whaley would both re-locate to Germany.

Peterson would be working with Japanese label Captain Trip Records, who would release two solo albums. 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. One of the first tours of this return would be in Japan, spawning a live album in Hello Tokyo, Bye Bye Osaka – Live in Japan 1999.

This re-booted incarnation of Blue Cheer would be indeed the most consistent, touring Europe and the United States, mainly performing material from the first two albums sprinkled with songs from later records. However there would be a handful of brief lineup changes, including Joe Hasselvander on drums and a one-off show featuring original guitarist Leigh Stephens and drummer Prairie Prince. Blue Cheer's first album in sixteen years, featuring drummers Hasselvander and Whaley, What Doesn't Kill You... would see release in 2007 to generally positive reception.

On 12 October 2009, Peterson died[3] in Erkelenz, Germany at the age of 63 from liver cancer, after prostate cancer spread throughout his body.[1][4] He was survived by his second wife,[5] his former wife,[6] a daughter from his first marriage,[7] and a six-year-old grandson.[8][4][9][10]

Peterson was cremated and his ashes given to his daughter, Corrina. Peterson wished his ashes to be spread in the Rhine River in Germany and in the Redwoods of Northern California, at the time a site to be determined by his daughter.[11]

Other Musical ProjectsEdit

Peterson moved to Sacramento in 1974, forming Peterbuilt. By 1975 Blue Cheer would be reformed once again, albeit briefly.

Between 1994 and 1999, Peterson did perform as a solo performer with Helmut Kaiser (Guitar), Ralph Schmitten (Bass), Stefan Albrecht (Drums) and Peter Haser (Piano, Organ). This lineup would perform Blues and Blues Rock as Peterson's only solo album, Child of The Darkness, saw release via Captain Trip Records in 1997. A live album entitled Tramp saw release two years later via Captain Trip, detailing live recordings of Peterson's touring through Germany in the mid 1990s.

Peterson spent much of the past two decades preceding his death based in Germany, playing with Blue Cheer and other groups on occasion. In 1998 and 1999, he played various dates in Germany with the Hank Davison Band and as an acoustic duo with Hank Davison under the name "Dos Hombres."[12] He appeared on the album, Hank Davison and Friends - Real Live. In 2001 and 2002, Peterson played, principally in Germany, with Mother Ocean, a group he formed that included former Blue Cheer guitarist Tony Rainier, as well as brother Jerry Peterson.[13]

Personal LifeEdit

Dickie Peterson was born in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He would spend much of his youth in East Grand Forks, Minnesota but return to Grand Forks after the death of his parents at a young age, living on a farm with his aunt and uncle. His upbringing came from a musical family, with his father playing Trombone, his mother playing piano and his brother Jerre playing flute initially. From the age of eight he desired to be a professional musician and after initially playing drums, switched to bass from the age of 13 onwards. After spending grades ten through twelve at Grand Forks High School he would move to Davis, California to pursue his dream. Peterson cited Otis Redding as a significant influence, along with Muddy Waters and his own brother Jerre.

Throughout his life, Peterson's relationship to music had been all-consuming. Peterson provided the following self-description: "I've been married twice, I’ve had numerous girlfriends, and they’ll all tell you that if I’m not playing music I am an animal to live with. ...Music is a place where I get to deal with a lot of my emotion and displaced energy. I always only wanted to play music, and that’s all I still want to do." Peterson had been married twice in his lifetime and had a single daughter.


With Blue Cheer (Selected Discography)Edit

Other ReleasesEdit

  • Group B - I Know Your Name Girl / I Never Really Knew (1966, Scorpio)
  • Thrasher ‎– Burning At The Speed Of Light (Studio Album; Vocals on track 1) (1985, Roadrunner Records)
  • Group B - The Scorpio Records Story (Compilation; appears on tracks 14 and 15) (1994, Big Beat)
  • Hank Davison - Real Live - Hank Davison & Friends (Live album; Bass and Vocals on 10 and 11) (1995, KDC)
  • Dickie Peterson - Child Of The Darkness (Studio Album) (1997, Captain Trip Records)
  • Dickie Peterson - Tramp (Live Album) (1999, Captain Trip Records)
  • Mr.Rogers Neighborhood ‎– Radical Music For Docile Minds (Studio Album) (2001, Captain Trip Records)

External LinksEdit


  1. 1.0 1.1 Dickie Peterson dies at 63; bassist and lead singer for the power trio Blue Cheer Los Angeles Times, October 16, 2009.
  2. As recounted by Blue Cheer bandmate Andrew "Duck" MacDonald in interview with Chuck Haga,"Final cheer for a Blue Cheer". Grand Forks Herald, October 22, 2009;
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named
  4. 4.0 4.1 William Grimes, Dickie Peterson, Singer for Rock Band Blue Cheer, Dies at 63. Obituary, The New York Times, October 13, 2009.
  5. Ilka Diener
  6. Marilyn (Peterson) Stephens
  7. Corrina Peterson-Kaltenrieder, age 36, a former professional ballerina, previously associated with the Texas Ballet Theatre; see Performance announcement and bio, 2006;
  8. Comments of Marilyn (Peterson) Stephens, first wife of Dickie Peterson, October 13, 2009. Tribute blog to Dickie Peterson; Peterson's first wife asserts that his year of birth was 1946, rather than 1948.
  9. Blue Cheer's Dickie Peterson RememberedTemplate:Dead link;
  10. Vincent; see Performance announcement and bio of Corrina Peterson;
  11. Comments of Blue Cheer co-founder, producer and former manager Eric Albronda, October 28, 2009 at Blue Cheer Message Board (Thread: "Death of Dickie");
  12. Blue Cheer News Template:Webarchive, "Dickie Peterson-Hank Davison Band-Dos Hombres"
  13. See Notice of 2001 performance and Notice of 2002 performance;
V·T·E Blue Cheer
Past Members Dickie PetersonLeigh StephensPaul Whaley • Eric Albronda • Jerre Peterson • Vale Hamanaka • Jere Whiting • Allen "Gut" Turk • Randy Holden • Mitch Mitchell • Tom Weisser • Bruce Stephens • Ralph Burns Kellogg • Norman Mayell • Gary Lee Yoder • Troy Spence Jr. • James L. Curry • Ruben de Fuentes • Terry Rae • Nick St. Nicholas • Tony Rainier • Mike Fleck • Brent Harknett • Billy Carmassi • Eric Davis • Andrew MacDonald • David Salce • Dieter Saller • Gary Holland • Prairie Prince • Joe Hasselvander
Studio Albums Vincebus EruptumOutsideInsideNew! Improved!Blue CheerThe Original Human BeingOh! Pleasant HopeThe Beast Is BackHighlights & LowlivesDining With The SharksWhat Doesn't Kill You...7
Other Releases Blitzkrieg Over NürembergLive & Unreleased, Vol. 1: '68/'74Live & Unreleased, Vol. 2: Live at San Jose Civic Centre, 1968 & MoreHello Tokyo, Bye Bye Osaka – Live in Japan 1999Live Bootleg: London – HamburgRocks EuropeLive at Anti WAA Festival 1989Party Hard at the Underground CologneThe '67 Demos
Associated Bands, Artists, Etc. The Oxford CircleKakThe Other HalfThe Sons of AdamPopulation IIPentagramDeath Row
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