Friends, fans and heavy metal rock and rollers around the world are mourning the death of BLUE CHEER bassist and lead singer Richard Allan "Dickie" Peterson (b. September 12, 1946) after a long fight against cancer.
Peterson, age 63, died in Erkelenz, Germany, where he lived, on the morning of October 12, 2009. He is survived by wife Ilka Peterson, ex-wife Marilyn (Peterson) Stephens, with whom he had a daughter, Corrina Peterson-Kaltenrieder, and a grandson. He was a founding member and leader of the San Francisco band BLUE CHEER; a group known to heavy metal fans for being louder and heavier than any band before them and for laying the blueprint for much of what would come after. The band debuted with a ground-shaking cover of Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" on their 1968 album "Vincebus Eruptum". In the early days, the CHEER regularly played shows with their San Francisco peers, including such era luminaries as the GRATEFUL DEAD, JANIS JOPLIN, JIMI HENDRIX, BIG BROTHER & THE HOLDING COMPANY and CREAM.
BLUE CHEER's last U.S. tour (featuring Peterson, founding drummer Paul Whaley, and guitarist Andrew "Duck" MacDonald) was in support of their 2007 release, "What Doesn't Kill You…", and had the band playing shows with the fourth generation of bands to follow in their path. "He loved the younger musicians," said MacDonald of his bandmate. "He thought of all of them as his children." Zach Gabbard of the band BUFFALO KILLERS, one of Dickie's favorite new-generation rock bands, said, "You never know what it is going to be like to play with your heroes, but we walked into the club and Dickie stopped and said, 'BUFFALO KILLERS, cool name. We played and hung out with Dickie and the rest of the band all night. It was a gift. Dickie was worthy of his hero status and will be missed by many."
Plans were underway for the band to tour in support of the 2009 Rainman Records DVD release of "Blue Cheer Rocks Europe" when Dickie's cancer was found. Tour plans were put on hold, but the first full-length concert DVD in the band's more-than-forty-year history was released without delay. The DVD includes not only the concert footage with 5.1 audio, but also included a Peterson voiceover commentary and a complete interview with the late leader of the band.
Dickie and BLUE CHEER cherished their fans — the 1%ers, as they were called — and considered them the fourth member of their band. "Without you, what we do is completely pointless," Peterson said to an audience in 2006, continuing, "You've got to take care of each other, you're all you've got."
MacDonald says that Dickie believed in the best of people. "The people loved him and he loved them right back," he said. "It was the best relationship he had in his life."
BLUE CHEER live in Germany - April 2008: