News in Review: Dickie Peterson, The Who, Eric Woolfson, Grammy Nominations

First Appeared in The Music Box, December 2009, Volume 16, #12

Written by John Metzger

Thu December 17, 2009, 06:30 AM CST

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Blue Cheer’s Dickie Peterson Dead at 63

Blue Cheer - Vincebus Eruptum

Best known as the founder, front man, and bass player for Blue Cheer, Dickie Peterson quietly passed away on October 12 after battling cancer. Born in North Dakota in 1946, Peterson moved to San Francisco in the mid-1960s, where he became one of the principal architects of heavy metal. Blue Cheer’s 1968 debut Vincebus Eruptum spawned the band’s lone hit, a thunderous rendition of Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues. Several years later, The Who offered its own crash-and-burn version of the classic tune. Wracked by internal strife as well as a series of personnel changes, the members of Blue Cheer parted ways in 1971. Peterson reformed the outfit on several occasions over the years, but Blue Cheer never really had a chance to capitalize on its initial success. Nevertheless, the group’s legacy unmistakably has been carried forward by outfits ranging from Mountain to Dead Meadow.

The Who - Endless Wire

The Who Lands Super Bowl Gig

The Who’s career could use a jolt of electricity. Its legacy will never fade away, of course, but with only one album to its credit in the past 20-plus years — the hit-and-miss Endless Wire — it’s safe to say that the band’s best days rest somewhere in the past. Neither Pete Townshend nor Roger Daltrey, however, appears to be content with The Who’s current trajectory. Daltrey recently completed a solo tour during which he dusted off a few nuggets from the group’s back catalogue and adorned other selections with new arrangements. Meanwhile, Townshend has been busy writing material for The Who’s next conceptual work, which he has taken to calling Floss. The outfit might actually begin recording the endeavor in January, and as part of the restoration of its image, The Who is planning to perform an attention-grabbing halftime set at next year’s Super Bowl in Miami. The ensemble also is expected to schedule a series of tour dates in 2010 for late summer and early fall.

Alan Parsons Project - Eye in the Sky

Alan Parsons Project Founder Eric Woolfson Passes

On December 2, cancer claimed the life of songwriter Eric Woolfson at the age of 64. Woolfson was best known as a founding member of the Alan Parsons Project, which issued its debut Tales of Mystery & Imagination in 1976. He wrote many of the group’s songs, and although a team of vocalists usually was brought into the studio to deliver them, it was Woolfson’s voice that graced Eye in the Sky, the Alan Parsons Project’s biggest hit. In recent years, Woolfson had exited the rock business to focus upon writing musicals. This was, of course, a natural extension of the Alan Parsons Project’s conceptual pursuits. Apparently, Woolfson had been ill for some time, but he opted to keep his status secret.

Grammys Love Beyonce, Taylor Swift

52nd Annual Grammy Awards Logo

During a concert that served as the prelude to its annual prime time spectacle, the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (NARAS) revealed its nominations for the 52nd annual Grammy Awards. Beyonce and Taylor Swift were the biggest winners, landing 10 and eight nods, respectively. In addition, both performers were nominated in the Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Album of the Year categories. Songs by Black Eyed Peas, Lady Gaga, and Kings of Leon were also nominated for Record of the Year; Tracks by Maxwell, Lady Gaga, and Kings of Leon complete the Song of the Year category; and Dave Matthews Band, Lady Gaga, and Black Eyed Peas could bring home the statue for Album of the Year.

None of this should be surprising. It has become an annual tradition either to relegate the best music to smaller categories or to ignore it completely. U2’s No Line on the Horizon, for example, will square off against Green Day’s 21st Century Breakdown for Best Rock Album; Neko Case’s Middle Cyclone will battle Elvis Costello’s Secret, Profane & Sugarcane for Best Contemporary Folk Album; and Levon Helm’s Electric Dirt will have to face Bob Dylan’s Together through Life in the newly created Americana category. In other words, save for U2 and possibly Green Day, most of the artists deserving of awards and attention aren’t going to get squat when the 52nd annual Grammy Awards ceremony is broadcast live from the Staples Center in Los Angeles on January 31.

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