Remembering Peter Bergman


How many of you in the radio business perked up at the news that Peter Bergman of the Firesign Theatre died at 72? I learned as I scrolled through my Facebook page (which has become an increasingly boring exercise of reading about who baked muffins) and came upon a post from an L.A. Times blog; apparently it didn’t make the actual newspaper. What a loss.

To say I was a rabid Firesign Theatre fan is an understatement. Their unique brand of multi-layered comedy and satire affected me like Beatlemania. As my friends and I listened to Nick Danger, Don’t Crush That Dwarf and We’re All Bozos (always under the influence of something mind-altering), I couldn’t stop thinking, “how do they do this stuff?”

The Firesign Theatre was what got me into radio. I wanted to do what they did. So when I was in college I created my own lame imitation of their performances on the college radio station, replete with skits, fake commercials and kooky organ music. How many of you did the same?

–John Brooks, M&A and Financial specialist

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  1. Firesign Theatre was the bong, I mean the bomb, during my college radio days too. Unlike Our Mister Brooks (hi John) with his youthful but admittedly lame FT imitations, when I was at the University of Vermont’s WRUV (1969 -1973, FT’s heyday) my FT inspired fake commercials were so hip that they drew the attention of a local PD who offered my first commercial radio gig while I was still in college, which in turn drew me my first groupie (anybody remember radio groupies?), and put me on a path that next involved helping AOR (hi Lee) get over on a major market FM radio station, with high levels of creativity, funny production pieces, and more. I have no doubt that many of our compadres in radio were inspired by Messrs. Bergman, Proctor, Ossman and Austin; and that, like me, they can to this day still recite long passages of FT material (I have vivid memories of seeing FT live on tour, with nearly the entire audience mouthing along verbatim). The bottom line here is that FT’s brief but brilliant 15 minutes of fame was inspirational to an entire generation; and, Bergman’s passing reminds me there are too many Bozo’s on the radio bus today who have forgotten the need for radio to be creative. Now hand me the pliers. Barry Skidelsky, Esq. ([email protected], 212-832-4800)

  2. Long time FT fan, first time commenter… Peter was the dude who originally assembled FT, which makes him Bozo Emeritus. I’ve been a fan since the original releases. When I first got my hands on a CD burner & LP cleanup software in the early ’90s, all of my FT LPs got converted, along with The Fabulous Rhinestones. Those two groups were very late to CD conversion (as in “never” for the Rhinestones).

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