An argument that may never cease among fans, historians and journalists alike. What were the true origins of heavy metal music?
Few would disagree that Black Sabbath defined heavy metal for everything that would come after it. I firmly believe that the very roots of heavy metal began with Blue Cheer, Sir Lord Baltimore, Vanilla Fudge and to a lesser extent, Iron Butterfly.
Blue Cheer’s thunderous wall of noise on their debut “Vincebus Eruptum” still stands as a daring display of early heaviness. It is a record drenched in blues covers with heavy bass and thrashing drums. Vocalist/bassist Dickie Peterson’s raspy singing breathes a breath of brash air into those covers and the few originals. Their version of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” is a mini-showcase with instrumental fills substituting for the low-voices of authority at the end of each verse.
I remember a Bass Player Magazine interview Peterson did many years ago where he discussed recording a long-overdue follow-up to Blue Cheer’s 1991 record “Dining With The Sharks”. He specified that the record would be Rock and Roll. What Blue Cheer has always been about. I’m paraphrasing here as it has been a while since I read the interview. He mentioned that he didn’t feel he associated with heavy metal.
Many years later when I was able to track down Peterson and discuss this with him via email. He clarified that he didn’t want to come across as dissing metal, he just never saw Blue Cheer has having helped to define it. I respectfully disagreed with him and passed along thanks for his influence on the bass community.
I’ll close this with a video shot by bass builder Bill Baker from when he delivered a custom instrument to Peterson in 2007. Dickie passed away in 2009. While gone now, along with his original band mates he is rightfully acknowledged by many as a pioneering voice in heavy music.