R.I.P. Blue Cheer Drummer Paul Whaley

He was 72
R.I.P. Blue Cheer Drummer Paul Whaley
Paul Whaley pictured on left beside Blue Cheer bandmates Richard “Dickie” “Peterson and Leigh Stephens in 1968. (Photo: Universal Music Group)
Paul Whaley — the drummer behind hugely influential proto-metal band Blue Cheer — has died. The musician passed away on Monday (January 28) at his home in Regensburg, Germany. Whaley was 72.

According to Blue Cheer co-founder and former manager Eric Albronda, Whaley's cause of death was heart failure, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Whaley served as one-third of Blue Cheer's classic power-trio lineup alongside singer/bassist Dickie Peterson and guitarist Leigh Stephens, replacing original drummer Albronda and joining Blue Cheer during their peak years of 1967 to 1969. Whaley also joined the band during various reunion stints in the decades that followed until the death of Peterson in 2009.

Without question, Blue Cheer became the loudest, fiercest band to emerge from the Summer of Love era, paving a way for many heavier bands to follow. In fact, Eric Clapton once dubbed them "the originators of heavy metal" — an opinion shared by many.

Their 1968 debut album Vincebus Eruptum — recorded by the lineup of Peterson, Stephens and Whaley — emerged as a cult classic, thanks in part to Whaley's intense style of playing.

Whaley went on to play on Blue Cheer's following albums — 1968's OutsideInside and 1969's New! Improved! — before first leaving the band ahead of their fourth self-titled 1969 effort.

Whaley is survived by his longtime partner Elke Kandlbinder and his daughter Jana Indiana. A memorial service was set for today at Holy Trinity Church in Regensburg, Germany, which Whaley now called home.