Saturday, March 10, 2012

RIP Peter Bergman

The Club Parnassus is sad to announce the passing of Peter Bergman, writer, voice artist, and founding member of the Firesign Theatre, at 72 from complications from leukemia.

The influence the Firesigns have had on American comedy and American audio theater is easy to understate. At the same time groups like the Beatles and Beach Boys (and Stones, baby, Stones!) were using multi-track editing to produce complex, genre-defining rock albums, the Firesign Theatre used the technology to turn their comedy albums into fully-formed audio plays, with complex soundscapes and all sorts of audio tricks. Their surrealistic humor was as much about constructing imaginative worlds as telling jokes, and they provided a unique view of much of the era's social upheaval. Bergman's sardonic voice was key to characters ranging from the gruff, show-stealing Lieutenant Bradshaw to teen deadbeat Mudhead, and on Duke of Madness Motors, the recently released DVD-ROM archives of the Firesigns' early Seventies radio shows, he's frequently the passionate hippie philosopher, calling for the end of pointless laws and hellish jobs and bland food, wrestling with a kind of New Age anarchism.

The Firesigns had mostly stopped producing original material for some years before this, but with this the group is likely truly done. He is dearly missed by his friends and partners, and by those of us who appreciated his unique perspective.

"I'm finished in politics because I don't have the votes, and I can't go into wrestling because I don't have a mask. Guess I'll just swim, swim, swim..."

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