BERNIE PERSHEY (Nickname "Beanie") - Drums and other Percussion Instruments
Bernie Pershey was born in Minoka, Illinois in July of 1952, but grew up in Joliet. As a small child he showed an interest in music and became attracted to the drums.
Always a student of details, Bernie began learning not only how to play his instrument, but what made it tick as well.
While growing up in Joliet, Bernie played with numerous unknown rock bands making it a point to see other bigger name groups as often as possible. One such group was called "The Knights" and Bernie looked up to the band's drummer, a guy named Mick Stanhope. The two drummers got to know each other and became good friends during the early to mid-'60's.
When Mickey formed a new group with other Joliet musicians called "State Prism" he asked Bernie to be the band's drummer. The group would be short lived as Mick was about to move on to bigger things. What Bernie didn't know at the time was the role he would play in the bigger events to come.
Shortly after Mick's departure, "State Prism" and "The Knight's" merged becoming the group "Crystal Tower". By now Bernie had become a veteran of the local club circuit and had fine tuned his drumming abilities to that of a true professional. As he made a name for himself he started getting offers from other groups and accepted the drummers job for "Trilogy", one of the area's hottest acts.
Meanwhile, Mick Stanhope had returned to Joliet. On sick leave from "White Lightning" he had come home to rest and recover from the illness that was beating him down.
As he was recovering he and Bernie spent some time together catching up on each others lives. Telling Bernie about "White Lightning" he mentioned how he had been wanting to get off his drums for quite some time. Mick felt he could do more justice to his vocals and the band's stage show by taking the front man's position. This open seat in the drummer's chair was a perfect opportunity for Bernie to join an up and coming group with product on the market in addition to sharing the stage once again with his good friend. Returning to Minneapolis with a recovered Mick Stanhope, Bernie became the fifth member of the newly re-formed "White Lightning" now called just "Lightning".
Excellent timing, speed, and the ability to use his double bass drums effectively made Bernie a favorite with audiences. His drum solos in The William Tell Overture were not only exciting and full of energy, but wonderfully creative as he utilized every drum, cymbal and the numerous other percussion instruments at his disposal to their maximum.
It wasn't long before Pershey had an influence on the band's writing style and in fact wrote some of the later originals "Lightning" performed in concerts. Bernie had developed an interest in other instruments as well and became proficient on both Marimba and the Xylophone. It's Bernie's Xylophone playing that opens the song When A Man Could Be Free on the P.I.P. "Lightning" album. He also began to study music theory and would introduce rhythms to the band other than the standard 4/4 time most rock groups play in.
As 1970 was coming to an end, Bernie had become fascinated with groups like "Emerson, Lake and Palmer" and was pushing "Lightning" in that direction with the new material he was writing. "Lightning", however, was basically a hard rock band and the differences in musical tastes began to tear the band apart. Bernie Pershey quit "Lightning" in late 1970 and went out to find himself.
Joining a pre-New Age style band, the group "Synergy" bordered on Jazz while keeping one foot in rock. Changing their name to "This OneNess", recording an album and playing around the Minneapolis area, this group of talented musicians developed a unique following of what might be called musical eggheads.
During the early '70's Bernie would play with some of the Twin Cities best musicians in groups like "Goldstreet" who eventually would land the gig as back-up for Olivia Newton-John. Turning in some fine performances for a few "Lightning" reunion concerts, Bernie remained friends with the rest of the band and learned about the Olivia Newton-John gig through his ex "Lightning" Lead guitarist and friend "Zip" Caplan.
On tour with Newton-John for a part of the mid-'70's, Bernie and crew played a lot of big name venues, did some TV shows and recording, eventually winding back up in Minneapolis. In 1975 Bernie joined the original "Lightning" line-up one last time for the recording of The William Tell Overture before deciding to move to California.
Feeling his opportunities would be better on the West Coast and knowing other musicians in the City of Angels, including Mick Stanhope, Bernie packed up and left for LA. By the time Bernie tied up loose ends and arrived in California, Mick had already made some connections and the two of them played in a local LA. club group eventually recording some newer material and a couple of Demos. Only lasting for awhile it was good enough to get Bernie started in this new market. He knocked around for quite a while, playing gigs whenever he got the chance and making a name for himself along the way. Bernie had good credits from his past playing experiences, but his drumming was all he needed as it spoke for itself.
Involved in recording sessions more and more Bernie got to know a lot of musicians in LA. as the '80's moved on. Both Mick Stanhope and Ronn Roberts, "Lightning's" other guitar player who was also living in LA. at the time, kept in touch with Bernie on a regular basis. By the mid-'80's Bernie had established a solid ground and landed a gig with Dwight Twilley, followed later by another gig with blonde Hollywood Icon "Angelyne".
Continuing to do studio work in addition to touring as a side man for various big name acts, Bernie kept up his association with his friends from "Lightning" as well as continuously writing newer and better material.
It was about this time in the late '80's that Bernie met and became involved with female guitar whiz Jennifer Batten. She was giving lessons at the "Guitar Institute" while Bernie was conducting his own business there. The two met and got to know each other leading to a relationship that would last for quite awhile.
By the early '90's, Bernie Pershey had played with some of the industries best musicians, including concert tours with Edgar Winter, and has appeared on such televisions shows as Mid Night Special, MTC, American Bandstand and Ohne Filter (in Germany.)
In recent years Bernie Pershey has been touring the United States and Europe on a regular basis with Blues guitar man Walter Trout and can be heard on his latest CDs. Bernie is also the drum instructor for Dan-mans music library, an Internet learning library located on the web at www. danmansmusic.com. Bernie is also the author of a collection of drum solos entitled "Rude Mental Music."Currently living in California with his wife and daughter, Bernie continues to play concert dates with Walter Trout and can also be heard on two tracks of Zip Caplans upcoming solo CD.