Paul Whaley
Paul Whaley.jpg
The Whale in his natural habitat.
Background information
Birth Name Paul Whaley
Alias The Whale
Born 14 January 1947
Died 28 January 2019
Occupation Musician, Baker
Genres Hard Rock, Psychedelic Rock, Heavy Metal
Instrument(s) Drums, Vocals
Years active 1964-1969, 1984–1985, 1990–1993, 1999-2018
Labels Philips, MCA, Rainman, Megaforce, Big Beat, Nibelung
Associated acts The Oxford Circle, Blue Cheer

Paul Whaley was a drummer best known for his multiple tenures with Blue Cheer, being in the band longer than anyone (and playing on seven of the band's eleven studio albums) besides founding member Dickie Peterson throughout the band's 42 years of existence.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Whaley's musical beginnings date back to the early 1960s, as he would found The Oxford Circle in 1964, a psychedelic/garage band with elements of proto-punk. A popular band in the Davis, California area and regulars at the Avalon Ballroom, The Oxford Circle performed with the likes of The Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Big Brother and The Holding Company. The band recorded and released a single entitled Foolish Woman in January 1966 but were ultimately unable to get signed or release a full-length. In 1967, Whaley would leave The Oxford Circle to join Blue Cheer, which essentially was one of the factors with The Oxford Circle disbanding the same year.

Upon joining Blue Cheer, Whaley was initially in the band when the group consisted of six members but by the time the group would get to recording, Blue Cheer would become a power trio of Whaley, Leigh Stephens and Dickie Peterson. On 16 January 1968, Blue Cheer would release their debut album Vincebus Eruptum, peaking at number 11 on the Billboard 200 albums chart and spawning the top-20 hit cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues". The band toured heavily in support of the first album. Blue Cheer's sophomore follow-up OutsideInside would come that summer, the band exuding more of a psychedelic sound than the raw hard rock of the first record. However by the time of the second release, Stephens would leave the group due to his clean and sober lifestyle with Randy Holden as his replacement, touring all through the fall and winter with the band.

With a new guitarist and amidst a transitional phase, part of a third album would be recorded before Holden would leave the group. Now with a host of new musicians in the fold, the band released a third record known as New! Improved! in April 1969. Blue Cheer's sound would shift to more commercial rock and by the time it came to record a fourth album (Blue Cheer was released in December 1969), Whaley would leave the group entirely. Whaley's last recordings to that point were contributing drums to a handful of Gary Lee Yoder solo recordings in 1969, previously unreleased for years until included in a reissue of Kak's self-titled album.

Whaley would rejoin Blue Cheer in 1984, re-recording classic songs and a host of new compositions for The Beast Is Back, released that same year and seen as a return to the band's hard rock sound. However Whaley would leave again that next year, with Brent Harknett as his replacement. Whaley would return to the band in 1989 to contribute to the Jack Endino produced Highlights & Lowlives. Performing with the band again saw them touring Europe on a regular basis, with Peterson and Whaley relocating to Germany in 1992. A follow-up album came in the form of Dining With The Sharks in 1991. However by 1993 he would be out of the band again, Peterson would move back to the United States, and Blue Cheer would go on hiatus. In 1993, Whaley would contribute drums to the Randy Holden solo album Guitar God. In 1997, The Oxford Circle would release Live at The Avalon 1966, featuring the band's only studio recordings as bonus tracks.

Blue Cheer would reform in 1999 with the lineup of Peterson, Whaley and Duck MacDonald. this lineup would remain fairly consistent for the rest of the band's tenure, beginning this reformation with a tour of Japan and Europe (The Japan shows later released as the live album Hello Tokyo, Bye Bye Osaka (Live In Japan 1999)). Blue Cheer would mainly tour Europe but occasionally tour the United States. Eventually the band would record new material with Joe Hasselvander but out of respect for Whaley, let Whaley record drums over five of these songs. This would be released as What Doesn't Kill You... in August 2007. The band would maintain a touring cycle of Europe and other places until Dickie Peterson died on 12 October 2009, effectively ending the band.

Since Blue Cheer's disbanding, Whaley had been relatively quiet in the music world though has contributed guest drums to two releases by German blues rockers United Blues Experience.

Personal Life[edit | edit source]

Whaley was born in Davis, California though he had stints of living in England and San Francisco. Whaley would start living in Germany in 1992 where he lives to this day, maintaining a dual citizenship between both countries. At some point he worked as a baker in Cornwell, England and as a pizza maker in San Francisco.[1]

On 28 January 2019 Paul Whaley would pass away in his sleep from a heart attack, just a couple weeks after his 72nd birthday.

Bands[edit | edit source]

  • The Oxford Circle - Drums, Vocals (1964 - 1967)
  • Blue Cheer - Drums (1967 – 1969, 1969, 1984 – 1985, 1990 – 1993, 1999 – 2004, 2005 – 2009)
  • Gary Lee Yoder - Drums (1969)
  • Randy Holden - Drums (1993)
  • United Blues Experience - Drums (2010, 2012)

Discography[edit | edit source]

With Oxford Circle[edit | edit source]

  • "Foolish Woman/Mind Destruction" (1966, World United)
  • Live at the Avalon 1966 (1997, Big Beat)

With Blue Cheer (Selected[edit | edit source]

Other Releases[edit | edit source]

  • Randy Holden - Guitar God (1997, Captain Trip Records)
  • Kak - Kak-ola (Drums on five bonus tracks) (1999, Big Beat)
  • United Blues Experience - Heart Blood Ballads (Drums on Two Tracks) (2010, Clearaudio)
  • United Blues Experience - Soul on Fire (Drums on Two Tracks) (2012, Clearaudio)

External Links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Archived Rolling Stone articleAccessed 13 June 2016
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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