Friday, November 7, 2008

An Earth-Shaking Revelation at 13

To all who really know me, I have been surrounded by music and musicians since the age of 5. Other than that, our household in Suburban Virginia was a quite normal one. In 1968, I turned the TV knob to WDCA Channel 20 in Washington D.C., and tuned in to a local rock n' roll dance program called, "The Jack Alix Show". A very round faced Jack Alix announced a video by an up and coming band from San Francisco called Blue Cheer. They were to perform their new Top - 1o hit, "Summertime Blues", a re-make of the famous Eddie Cochran tune. Immediately an image of waist-length hair, walls of amplifiers, and a bludgeoning drone of sound only equaled by the Titanic's boiler room spewed out of the TV in sight and sound. You can imagine a child like me at that tender age was instantly transfixed to my mother and father's cathode-ray tube with jaw-dropped disbelief. Nothing like this had ever been seen or heard before. I took this important point in music history for what it was, and I never turned back.

I don't know if this had the same effect on others as it did me, but as I've gotten older, I have met a few in my age bracket and older who were also slayed by this band on another popular T.V. program, "the Steve Allen Show". Where not only did they perform "Summertime Blues", but also the flip side of the new single, "Out of Focus", an original piece by the band with the sickest lead guitar solos in history. There had also been a complete interview with the band and Steve Allen. In the late 1970's, I acquired an audio tape of that show recorded right off the small T.V. speaker belonging to my friend Randy Palmer who had the amazing insight to record this for posterity. The interview is hilarious as Mr. Allen doesn't seem to know what to do with them and the performance is brutally heavy!
It was very hard to find their debut album, "Vincebus Eruptum" on the east coast after the first pressings were sold. I finally became the owner of their second album, "Outside Inside" which thoroughly finished the job on my musical tastes, and sent me into an alternate universe in music. It came complete with a Uni-Pak triple gate fold cover which folded out into a wide-screen stage shot of the boys and all their powerful Marshall amps. I don't know anyone who listened to this record without staring at this iconic photo of Dickie, Leigh, and Paul doing what they do best.

I have found through the years that important relationships in my life sometimes hinged on whether or not there was a mutual love for this band! My working relationships in music also went under the tyrannic scrutiny of Blue Cheer and other bands sounding similar. Magazines have often interviewed me and inquired into what inspires me to write and record such overly powerful music on my many albums. The answer is always the same: Blue Cheer.

Blue Cheer - Golden Gate Park 1968

The "Ancient Astronauts" of heavy metal, Blue Cheer!

This is my poster that came as an insert to "Disco Scene Magazine" in 1968! Dickie Peterson informed me that it is quite probably the last one of this condition in existence! This is the first thing you see when you walk into my house!

In early Spring of 2005 I was asked to play the drums for my heroes Blue Cheer. Believe me, I was completely floored!!! It was a gig at the Roundhouse in London, England sharing the stage with other heroes from my childhood, MC5 and members of the Pink Fairies. Unfortunately, this fell through after the announcement of the new line-up of Peterson, McDonald & Hasselvander in Classic Rock Magazine. In June of the same year Blue Cheer were invited to be the headlining band at Laconia, New Hampshire's bike week. This was the first show the band had played since the mid 1990's. The show was played remarkably authentic to the sounds of the original band from the 1960's with all its power, glory and fuzz-tone!!
Blue Cheer - Laconia , New Hampshire 6-5-05

Blue Cheer - Laconia, New Hampshire 6-6-05 2nd night.
Top - Duck MacDonald (guitar)
Middle- Joe Hasselvander (drums)
Bottom - Dickie Peterson (bass & vocals)

This worked out so well I was asked to play the drums on their latest album release, "What doesn't kill you..." It was a real Twilight Zone moment to have Dickie Peterson staying in my house and sleeping in the very room where I used to play air-guitar to his records and pretend I was him. Their original drummer Paul Whaley was not able to do the session because of health issues and he was living in Germany at the time. I was unable to carry on after finishing the album and playing an engagement with them in Maryland because of my responsibilities to my long time band mates in Raven who I have carved my career out with over the past 20 years. This all worked out in Paul's' favor as he returned and 4 tracks were added to the finished album featuring Paul on the drums. Now I am glad to say that not only did I get to perform and record with my childhood idols but was able to share the spotlight with one of my biggest inspirations on the drums; Mr. Paul Whaley.

See kids, your dreams can come true!!!!

Duck McDonald, Joe Hasselvander, Dickie Peterson

1 comment:

Woody said...

How about Blue Cheer with 2 drummers?