Dickie Peterson, the bassist and lead singer of Blue Cheer, passed on October 12 at the age of 61. He had a long struggle with prostate and liver cancer.
Dickie Peterson was born Richard Peterson on September 12, 1946 in Grand Forks, North Dakota. He started playing the bass at the age of 13 primarily due to his brother Jerre, who had performed with an early, six man version of Blue Cheer. It was in the mid-Sixties that Jerre and Dickie Peterson moved to San Francisco, where they started playing with the band Group B. Peterson was kicked out of Group B as his hard rock style conflicted with the rest of the members' ideas about the band. When his friends Eric Albronda and Jerry Russell founded Blue Cheer, Dickie Peterson joined as bassist and vocalist while Jerre Peterson joined as guitarist. It was decided early in the band's history to reduce the size of Blue Cheer so had to achieve a harder sound. Blue Cheer went from being a six piece band to a power trio.
Blue Cheer released their first album, Vincebus Eruptum, in 1968. It produced the band's only hit single, a near heavy metal remake of "Summertime Blues." Blue Cheer released five more albums before breaking up in 1972. The band would reform in 1978 and, with different line ups, as continued to this day. In every single line up Dickie Peterson was a member. Following their 1978 reunion, Blue Cheer would release four more albums.
Dickie Peterson released two solo albums in the Nineties, Child of Darkness and Tramp. He also played with Hank Davisonand other musicians over the years.
Arguably, Dickie Peterson was one of the more influential bassists in rock music. The hard rock music he created in the Sixties was a direct forerunner of heavy metal and much of his later work could be considered heavy metal. Like Jimi Hendrix before him, Peterson then did a great deal towards the evolution of the genre. Heavy metal has then lost one of its pioneers, and at a relatively young age as well.