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.
Eric Albronda here .
Thank you for the blog information. As a founding member, manager, producer and drummer (original) I would like to add some information. You are correct about the relationship with Pinnacle. When we first played for them they would drive to San Francisco in a flat bed truck and load us and the equipment and drive to Los Angeles and back . I remember riding in the open air all the way to Los Angeles in the back of the flatbed. Mark, Sepp and Jophn Van Hammersveld were very progressive and realized that Blue Cheer was indeed way ahead of their time and given the release of Blue Cheer 7 this year 2012 it is obvious the music has stood the test of time and will hold up for a long time.
The first album title translated to “Control of Chaos ” . Named by our friend Charles Osborne .
Of note was that when we played with Hendrix I was amazed that Hendrix, Mitchell and Noel came out of their dressing room and sat off stage on the floor and watched the entire opening set of Blue Cheer . I was standing not 10 feet from them observing their reaction. They remained the entire set and were most attentive especially Hendrix .
Jimmy as I knew him was very low key and a man of few words. He was as nice as could be and seemed a fan of Blue Cheer . We played with them 3 times in various locations . the Jeff Beck Group also became friends especially Ron Wood and Mick Waller , both very nice and friendly and remained friends to this day except Mick Waller Died a few years ago.Rod Stewart on the other hand was a bit of a Snit and at one point became infuriated because we sort of stole his groupies at the moment and I do believe he was a bit jealous. Unheard of ,He later apologized to me personally a few years later at his rather abrasive behavior .
You are correct in that Pinnacle Productions , John Van Hammersveld and the others were a huge factor in breakling Blue Cheer and were partially responsible for their 50,000 advance sales of their first album. I am personally indebted to them for their for sight.
John Van Hammersveld has remained a good friend and I collect his artwork.
When Dickie Peterson died in 2009 , John did a Blue Cheer poster which is truly a gift of love and his superior talent is obvious in the poster artwork.
The poster is available from John.
Gut Terk was indeed one of Blue Cheers managers however , myself Jerry Russell , Peter Wagner and Doug Tracy along with Gut shared responsibilities of furthering Blue Cheer along . We all did whatever was necessary to make them successful.
I will never forget the Pinnacle concerts and again am truly thankful for their help .
Thank you so much for this blog and if anybody has any questions regarding Blue Cheer I would be more than happy to answer.
I am awestruck and thrilled you found and commented on this post. You’re very welcome, sir, for the blog information. I want to say thanks for this MOST generous comment that you posted, as well.
You not only verified and cleared up information I came across; but expounded on “stories from the road” with great character and humor. Priceless anecdote’s Eric, you can just see this stuff happening. Enjoyed reading every bit.
Your insight has given me a greater understanding of the Blue Cheer / Pinnacle connection. But also, the breadth of its management and support system (which i was not expecting!)
This is so,so good i want to keep this thread open – as i feel i”m just scratching the surface here. One thing I must ask you about-according to Bruno Ceriotti “The San Francisco Sound” blog – you were in the drum seat in ’66 and there was a gig @Golden Gate Park(date unknown). Do you remember the event (and/or) name of it? and who else was on the bill? Maybe a poster of it out there, somewhere?
Eric Albronda of “Blue Cheer” posting on my site, still unbelievable – thanks again friend. Please feel free to keep this going. My interest and curiosity about Blue Cheer is infinite.
I wish Eric’s email address was still valid.I wanted to ask him about the Paul Whaley impersonator that has videos on YouTube and other various crap.
email address has been changed to
just dropped the last name I know this reply is a long time coming and would be happy to answer any questions you might have as my job is now to get factual information for the sake of historical reference out there for interested parties .
Hope you’ve been havin’ a great year! yep, tried you back a few times unaware of the address change so, it is very welcome to see your comment this morning.
I need to get in touch with you (thru back channel) on things we discussed late last year. More than I can go into on this reply.
Been vigilant working on the site and its starting to really gain some traction
GREAT to hear from you, Blue Cheer Forever! ;o)
just dropped the last name from my email-sorry
for any inconvenience
so now it is……
Wish that I had caught this blog when it was fresh but better late than never. The Hendrix show at the Shrine (which I saw) was not Blue Cheer’s first Pinnacle show. There was at least one prior in the exposition hall with Big Brother & the Holding Co. I remember Paul Whaley coming out on the stage just before their set and nailing down his bass drums to the floor. I became a big Blue Cheer fan after that and played a few of their songs in a cover band at that time. Coincidentally about a dozen or so years later I was in another band and for a short while a Paul Whaley impersonator played with us. He lived in Manhattan Beach and said that his real name was Howard and that Paul was his stage name. He had a color mismatched tom tom that he claimed was all that was left of his Blue Cheer drum set that was given to him by the record company. I thought something was odd because he didn’t look like Paul. At one point I showed him the Vincebus album cover and asked which one was him. He picked wrong! We didn’t say anything because we needed a drummer now.
I remember them playing at the Expo Hall. I preferred it to the Auditorium where you had to sit. At the Expo you could dance. Didn’t their album come out before the Expo show? We already knew their music before we saw them.
Sorry for the delay…sign of the times.
But, best I can see is Vincebus Eruptum released (1968) the concert poster featured in my post was on Feb 10, 1968. Band Line Up from Poster They did another one there in Jan 1969 here is audio on YT clip Blue Cheer @ Expo Hall Jan ’69 though you cant hear Dickie’vocals to well, still like it ;o)