I learned some very interesting facts today about the connection of 1960s psychedelic rock band Blue Cheer with Pinnacle Rock Concerts. Pinnacle Rock Concerts (or Pinnacle Productions) put on many shows at the Shrine Auditorium and adjacent Exhibition Hall in Los Angeles California in the 60s. It looks like they were most influential in exposing Blue Cheer to the public.
As a matter of fact, Blue Cheer (Dickie Peterson, Paul Whaley and Leigh Stephens) did the first Pinnacle Concert at the Shrine Auditorium along with Jimi Hendrix and The Electric Flag.
From what I see, Pinnacle Productions promoted many bands that would otherwise may not have been seen or heard of. Actually, I was doing some research on artist John Van Hamersveld and discovered he was one of the founding partners of Pinnacle Rock Concerts. You may not know the name immediately, but you know his art. He did the Endless Summer movie poster and The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour album cover. Both, very iconic.
Van Hamersveld knew Allen “Gut” Turk, Blue Cheer’s manager. He was working on an album cover design and asked Van Hamersveld to photograph the band. That was Blue Cheer’s first album (Vincebus Eruptum). It was a huge success and the award winning cover is still recognizable and an iconic image from the 60s. So for the first time I’m seeing a San Francisco based band playing in Los Angeles on a lot. it seems.
The combination of Blue Cheer with Pinnacle Rock Concerts at the Shrine Stadium were obviously very popular. 4,000 strong they would storm the gates. I’m not from California and am just discovering these Pinnacle Production concerts. Of course, I had heard about the famous Shrine Auditorium, but didn’t realize they promoted rock concerts in the 1960s.
Strangely, there were not a lot of rock art posters being done in Los Angeles. It looks like Van Hamersveld did most or allot of the posters for the Pinnacle Rock Concerts (an obvious choice) and shrine Auditorium promotions. But, they are arguably some of the best of the genre.
The Blue Cheer band was very, VERY loud (maybe the loudest) and possibly abrasive/abusive onstage. More than once getting into tussles with other bands on the same bill, like the Grateful Dead and the Jeff Beck Group. Nonetheless, they are attributed to being the godfathers of metal music or the beginings of heavy rock. At the time it was just very original and experimental music they were doing.
What was the connection of Blue Cheer with Pinnacle Rock Concerts? (I believe) they were destined to be partners. Gut Turk, Van Hamersveld and the other managers saw them (Blue Cheer) as innovators and way ahead of their time.
As you might imagine from this post, yes I was a fan back in the day and I would say, still am today. It was some of the most animal, raw, unbridled and original rock ‘n roll I had ever heard. Liberating.
Also, the relationship of Blue Cheer with Pinnacle is relevant to this blog. Because it is believed to have been born from the collaboration of an album cover design no less.
“Vincebus Eruptum” (pronounced ‘win-kay-bus’) is Latin for “Conquering Attack” or “Conquering Explosion.” It’s the best translation I could find. Dickie Peterson (however) defined it as”control of chaos” or “controlled chaos” on a Blue Cheer appearance of the Steve Allen Show.