Black Pearl – Live ! (1970)

FrontCover1A year ago I wrote about Black Pearl, this awesome ass kickin´ band from California in the late Sixties:

“In the primordial tar pits of 1968, early flurries of metal mutation appeared out of California. Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly and Black Pearl prophesied the world wide madness to come.” Lester Bangs (The Rolling Stone History of Rock & Roll)

Black Pearl was an early innovator of high energy, high volume, Rock and Roll now known as Heavy Metal. Based in Rhythm and Blues, Black Pearl with a 3 Guitar front, was unusual in that respect and stood alone with it’s R&B focus. Black Pearl disbanded in June 1969 shortly into it’s promotional tour with a sold out album to it’s credit totalling two charted albums.

“60’s band mentality was every gig was a Battle of the Bands. Our gang against yours. No Feed the World or Farm Aid shit. BP was an ass kickin band. A monster on the drums, the best guitar ever playing lead, a great rhythm section and BB who could get any crowd to its feet and women to remove their clothes. We were a gang and if you had a band we would kick your ass. And we did. Many times”.(Bruce Benson 2010)

FieldingA few days ago I got a “letter” fom Tom Mulcahy, the guitar player of Black Pearl (see comments). He wrote:

Hi, Thanks for the review of what became a rocket ride for a time with Black Pearl. Its as close to a real bio I have come across and most are looney. I was a fouding member () and have the website along with others from the band. Thanks again for the nice bio….We were nutty as fruitcakes and played as it came to us with no rehearsals but were skilled enough to pull it off. No one ever saw a dime. LOL

And this is their second and last album: A wild live recording and it´s my favorite Black Pearl Album: Hot & nasty, a funky performance with lot of Blues and Soul elements.

Black Pearl’s live album was recorded at the Fillmore West in San Francisco in 1968. The record starts off with a soulful song called Uptown before hitting the Blues with I Get The Blues Most Every Night. The flipside is what you really need to listen to however. First there’s a cover of James Brown’s Cold Sweat. The tune is played a little more laid back with a much loser arrangement than the original, and it’s strung out to around 11 minutes. The drummer also drops a nice and long drum break in the middle. The album ends with another extended rendition of People Get Ready. (by

The record was made to be played loud !


Bruce Benson (guitar)
Jerry Causi (bass)
Bernie “B. B.” Fieldings (vocals)
Geoff Morris (guitar)
Tommy Mulcahy (guitar)
Oak O’Connor (drums)


01. Uptown (Mabry) 4.42
02. I Get The Blues Most Every Night (Traditional) 5.39
03. Hermit Freak Show () 4.10
04. Cold Sweat (Ellis/Brown) 0.57
05. People Get Ready (Mayfield) 8.03





The linernotes


Black Pearl – Same (1969)

FrontCover1Black Pearl was a San-Francisco-based band that existed from the late 1960s to the early 1970s. They released two albums, Black Pearl (1969) and Black Pearl – Live! (1970).

Black Pearl was composed of Bernie “B.B” Fieldings (vocals), Bruce Benson (guitar), Oak O’Connor (drums), Geoffrey Morris (guitar), Tom Mulcahy (guitar) and Jerry Causi (bass). Morris, Causi and Benson had been members of the Barbarians, a 60s garage band noted for their extreme long hair for the times and their single, ” Are You a Boy or Are You A Girl”. The Barbarians were also noted for the band’s drummer, Moulty, who had lost one hand in a childhood accident and consequently played drums with a hook.

The band was formed after Barbarians’ singer and drummer Moulty refused to travel to Boulder, Colorado for a two week engagement. A new drummer, Oak O’Connor, plus Mulcahy and Fieldings, joined with ex-Barbarians Morris, Causi and Benson, all initially based in Boston, to form Black Pearl in 1967. The band relocated from Boston to San Francisco, after a period of time in Colorado.

Fieldings, who was white, was a wild showman who modeled his stage presence on that of James Brown. His admiration for James Brown was evident on the group’s live album, which contains a twelve minute version of James Brown’s “Cold Sweat”. As noted by one reviewer, “Black Pearl crank out some hard rockin’ psych-rock music with the most ferocious drumbeats you’ve heard in a while.” The band’s three guitar lineup was considered to be both unique and powerful, being a format also found in contemporaries Moby Grape and Buffalo Springfield.

Black Pearl released two albums, Black Pearl (1969) and Black Pearl – Live! (1970), with the second being less well-received than the first. (by wikipedia)

SingleBlack Pearl earned their place in rock immortality when, in 1980’s The Rolling Stone Illustrated History Of Rock and Roll, legendary rock scribe Lester Bangs coined the phrase “Heavy Metal” when he wrote, “In the primordial tar pits of 1968, early flurries of heavy metal mutation appeared out of California! Blue Cheer, Iron Butterfly and Black Pearl prophesied the worldwide madness to come.”

Black Pearl formed when three Boston bands — the Tallysmen, the Vikings and the Barbarians — all lent members to play a two-week gig in Aspen, Colorado, in 1967 opening for Cream and Big Brother and the Holding Company. The band — Bernie “B.B” Fieldings (vocals), Bruce Benson (guitar), Tom Mulcahy (guitar), Jerry Causi (bass), Geoff Morris (lead guitar), Oak O’Connor (drums) — moved out west and gigged around Colorado before eventually winding their way to San Francisco, where they opened for West Coast royalty like the Grateful Dead, Fleetwood Mac and the Mothers of Invention before scoring a record deal with Atlantic. Their self-titled album was released in 1969; a live record, recorded at the Fillmore West, was released a year later.

BlackPearl01The fast rise to fame caught up with the band, which had broken up by the time Black Pearl — Live was released. The original duo of Morris and O’Connor plus Mulcahy returned to Aspen with the name Black Pearl, played as a power trio for a while and then added a few new members (the gravelly voiced Bobby Mason, harmonica player and singer Tom Becker and bass player E. Rodney Jones) playing another eight years as Black Pearl finally disbanding in 1978. Black Pearl played reunion shows in Aspen in 1988, 1996 and a 1999, selling out local venues and reminding several generations of the power of rock and roll.(by Stephen Haag + Oak O’Connor)

And this is their first album …

Heavy drums and a good dose of soul – both of which make Black Pearl stand out a bit from many of their late 60s contemporaries! There’s a definite bluesy undercurrent to the group’s music, but the riffs are also pretty hard and fast too – almost a bit funky at times, and delivered with a starker sort of groove than the usual blues rock combo. The musicianship is super tight throughout – really at a superstar level, but without sounding slick or commercial – and the album alone is worth it for the sharp drums and guitar leads, but also sports some pretty great vocals too – with almost a garagey soul sort of feel.(by

BlackPearl02Back in the late ’60s, there were several bands that amped up the smooth and sexy R&B sound of the day — giving it a shot of adrenaline and a bit more, well, cajones. The prime example of this approach was the mighty MC5, but there were other acts that followed the same template — albeit all but forgotten over the years — such as Black Pearl. Although they hailed from San Francisco and were pals of the Grateful Dead, they did not reflect the expected hippie-dippie-isms from bands of that area/era. Singer Bernie B.B. Fieldings had obviously studied his James Brown records, as his vocal delivery brings to mind the hardest working man in show business, as well as the MC5’s Rob Tyner at times. But unlike the 5, Black Pearl weren’t loaded with as many memorable hooks in their songs, nor a raise-your-fist-in-the-air anthem like “Kick Out the Jams.” Still, their lone studio album (their other release was a live recording) — a self-titled release from 1969 — provided a much needed alternative to all the mellow/laid-back music that was ruling the mainstream at the time, especially on such funky-psychedelic-garage rock ditties as “Crazy Chicken” and “Mr. Soul Satisfaction.” As you’ve probably guessed by now, if you’re a fan of the MC5, it would certainly be worth it to hunt down a copy of Black Pearl. (by Greg Prato)

Bruce Benson (guitar)
Jerry Causi (bass)
Bernie “B. B.” Fieldings (vocals)
Geoff Morris (guitar)
Tommy Mulcahy (guitar)
Oak O’Connor (drums)

01. Crazy Chicken (Fieldings/Benson/Causi/Kiefer/O’Connor/Mulcahy) 3.00
02. Thinkin’ ‘Bout The Good Times (Fieldings) 4.11
03. White Devil (Fieldings/Causi/O’Connor) 4.55
04. Mr. Soul Satisfaction (Fieldings/Benson/Morris/Causi/O’Connor/Mulcahy) 3.35
05. Forget It (White/Van) 3.41
06. Climbing Up The Walls (Fieldings/Morris/Mulcahy) 3,51
07. Bent Over (Fieldings/Morris) 2.55
08. Endless Journey (Fieldings/Causi) 3.49
09. Reach Up (Fieldings) 4.03


BBFieldingsBernie Fieldings passing away in Florida in 2005.

Much more informations about Black Pearl on this website: