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Peter Bergman of (The Firesign Theatre) 1939 – 2012

March 9, 2012

I just this moment learned that Peter Bergman of The Firesign Theatre has passed away from complications of Leukemia.

I am heartbroken!

I had the pleasure of meeting Peter last December when he and the other Fireheads were here and we talked about radio what can be done on it in terms of art. We hatched plans to do things between Radio Free Oz and KBOO Radio, even an idea he had to do things live – such as a détournement of the Fox Thanksgiving parade. Peter was a genius who knew how to use the medium of radio as a canvas for surreal political commentary. Sadly, none of these plans will come to fruition now.

I was proud to be their live engineer for their live appearance on KBOO. I was no Live Earl Jive, but I did man the board for them, bringing some of the records they used back in the 70s.
They were amazing that night! They ended up going an hour over what they had originally intended, to the delight of all of us in the studio and undoubtedly the radio audience. It was a magic night.

For me, it was one of those rare times where you meet someone who you grew up idolizing and they end being so cool and genuine. Peter’s love of community radio and KBOO was apparent that night. Such a genius! Such a nice man.

Peter kindly offered to let KBOO run the classic series of 1970s radio programs in their entirety.

Here’s a link to Firesign’s appearance on KBOO last December – possibly one of the last recorded performances by all four of them together.

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6 comments

  1. I was so thrilled to be in the studio with The Firesign Theatre just a few months ago December 2011, in Portland, Oregon at KBOO FM. Peter didn’t seem ill, indeed he was vital and brilliantly contributed fully during two hours of live improv, and he was great at the 2 stage shows the following two nights.

    For those of us who had our minds expanded by their great comedy albums and in person performances we were never the same, we were better. Now he’s a Great Bozo in the Sky!


  2. It was equally wonderful to finally meet you in real space, Mr. Space, instead of just a voice on the telephone!
    It was a magic night, wasn’t it?


  3. This truly the end of an era. My pal, and mentor is gone. This is a sad day indeed.


    • Indeed. He will definitely be missed. It also means it’s pretty likely that Firesign Theater is no more. At least Phil Austin seems to think so.
      A sad week and an end of an era.


  4. Hey, great stuff.. I sent the link for the Dec KBOO show to the other Firesign guys (firesigntheatre.com co-webmaster here).

    Peter was such a radio professional that, even though he’s gone, he will STILL do a legal station ID for anyone:

    http://www.firesigntheatre.com/ids/index.html

    He was a Cool Old Guy…


  5. Thanks, Brian!
    I was listening to outtakes from the radio show, a recording of just the mics in the studio with Pete, the Phils and David and was amused by their off-air banter.

    We also have higher quality air-checks of the show.

    Yep, Pete and the rest all stayed and did multiple station IDs, patiently, even though it was well past midnight. We got to talk quite a bit. He was hopeful even about the upcoming election. He seemed tired, more thin than he did the previous year, but little did I know he was sick. But they went on for an hour longer than planned, stayed to do the IDs, etc.
    It was a magic night.
    I’ll sure miss Pete but I am glad to have made his acquaintance. I like to think his optimism was contagious.



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