History of Bedemon
Bedemon was an offshoot of very early Pentagram (circa 1973). Before Randy joined the band, he “borrowed” Geof and Bobby, and asked his friend Mike, to help him record some of his own compositions, just to get them down on tape. The very first Bedemon session resulted in “Child of Darkness,” “Serpent Venom,” and Geof’s Sabbath-y “Frozen Fear.” After a few months the same team got together to lay down some more tracks, and before long there was more than an album’s worth of material committed to tape.
When Randy officially joined Pentagram he brought two Bedemon compositions with him — “Touch the Sky” and “Starlady” (a Randy/Bobby cowrite). The latter was recorded in the studio during a later Pentagram incarnation (sans Palmer) and appears on the Pentagram 1973-1979 compilation record. After Randy left Pentagram he asked Geof, Mike, and Bobby to help lay down a couple more Bedemon tracks. The final 3 tunes (“Time Bomb,” “Nighttime Killer,” and a song written by Geof [untitled]) were recorded in 1979. A later incarnation of Bedemon (with Pentagram’s Greg Mayne filling in for Mike) recorded a new Palmer composition, “Night of the Demon,” and several older tunes. This was in 1986, the last Bedemon session . . . to date.
Now Randy, Geof, and Mike have reunited as a result of new fan interest in the Bedemon material. Perry Grayson (a writer/guitarist who appears on the first 2 Destiny’s End albums) contacted the three “Bedemon-ites” for interviews about Bedemon as well as Pentagram. Perry’s articles will eventually appear in some metal fan magazines, including “Metal Maniacs.”
As a result of Perry’s interest, the newly-reformed Bedemon recently took the original master tapes of the 1979 sessions and digitally enhanced them using professional-level computer programs and mixing equipment. If response to this “Time Bomb” EP is positive, Bedemon plans to upgrade the earlier material and make that available as well to an appreciative audience. The band also hopes to recruit a new vocalist and record some brand new doom-flavored material. (Bobby is working on a new Pentagram project.)
You can keep in touch with what’s happening with Bedemon by visiting this website, and help determine the future of the band’s activities by participating in the poll(s), writing in comments, and sending bede-mail.
(Incidentally, the band’s name is pronounced Beh-DE-mon.)
Thank you for your support!
Bedemon: The Origin…
The title “Bedemon” was concocted more or less as a joke. Before Randy joined Pentagram in 1974, he wanted to make a recording of his own metal material, but wasn’t interested in starting a real band. He got together with Mike Matthews, a pal from high school, and asked for help from his friends Geof O’Keefe and Bobby Liebling (who were already playing in the “classic” Pentagram lineup). After the first recording session, Palmer wrote more material, and asked for help again from the same team. By this time, whenever the four of us were talking about recording or playing this material, we kept referring to “Randy’s songs” or “Randy’s project.” It was cumbersome and a little silly to keep referencing the material that way, and eventually Bobby asked Randy, “why don’t you come up with a name for this?”
Randy toyed with a bunch of different band names, including “Demon” (which was adopted many years later by one of the NWOBHM [“New Wave Of British Heavy Metal”] groups) and “Behemoth.” But Palmer could never decide on one particular band name. Finally, at the 3rd recording session, Bobby asked Randy point blank: “what have you decided to call this?” Randy replied, “I dunno…maybe Behemoth or Demon or something.” Bobby, with big curls of hair clogging up his ears, misheard the statement and said, “What? Bedemehemon?” We all laughed and Randy decided to contract Bobby’s faux pas, so it went from “Bedemehemon” to Bedemon. This is a true story, and it’s really where the band name came from. It stuck over the years because Randy never actually decided on a real, honest-to-goodness band title for his ongoing musical project.
There is another historical inaccuracy that needs to be clarified: the truth is that there was never really any Bedemon “band” as that word implies. Bedemon was only a project. Randy never intended it to be a real band because soon after the first Bedemon recording sessions, he joined Pentagram.
Bedemon: The Original Recordings
The very first Bedemon recording was made in early 1973, when Randy, Mike, Geof, and Bobby Liebling spent an afternoon learning and recording Randy’s Sabbath-inspired compositions, “Child of Darkness” and “Serpent Venom,” along with a song Geof had written called “Frozen Fear.” The four of us literally learned, rehearsed, and recorded those 3 songs in a matter of hours! This includes the time allotted to lead solo and vocal overdubs! The material was recorded on Geof’s Roberts reel-to-reel tape deck, an extraordinarily well-made piece of equipment that still functions well to this day. Randy played rhythm and lead guitar on all 3 songs using a Carvin guitar and a “Mike Matthews Freedom Amp.” This had nothing to do with Bedemon’s Mike Matthews; the “Mike Matthews Freedom Amp” was a very small (but loud as hell!) amp designed by the Electro-Harmonix Company, manufacturer of the legendary “Big Muff Pi” distortion box. We have no idea why they called it a “Mike Matthews Freedom Amp,” but our Mike thought it was a pretty cool name!
Mike played bass guitar using equipment borrowed from Pentagram bassist Greg Mayne, and Geof played the drum kit he used regularly in Pentagram. In addition, Geof played the 2nd lead solo in his tune, “Frozen Fear,” using a Gibson Melody Maker guitar (which—believe it or not—he still uses today!). Bobby recorded vocals for by singing through Pentagram’s Peavy PA system. (Although Bobby would continue recording vocal tracks for Bedemon in this fashion for the next few sessions, eventually he began singing directly into the Roberts recording mic, sans amplification. We all thought this method provided a much cleaner and clearer vocal sound.)
Several months after the successful recording of “Child of Darkness,” “Serpent Venom,” and “Frozen Fear,” Randy asked Geof, Mike, and Bobby to meet again in order to record some new material. The second Bedemon session produced 2 finished songs. The first one recorded on that day was written by Geof, but he had neither lyrics nor a title for it. Bobby offered to sing the lyrics from one of his songs that never made it into the Pentagram repertoire, “Drive Me to the Grave.” The lyrics seemed to fit okay but the real highlight of that song is Geof’s guitar solo. (Randy played only rhythm on “Drive Me to the Grave.”) The 2nd song recorded that day was a Palmer composition originally entitled “The Zoo,” which Randy later decided to re-title “Enslaver of Humanity.” (Randy figured that since the song title never appeared anywhere in the lyrics, it could just as well be called “Enslaver of Humanity,” which at least sounds cooler than “The Zoo”) For this one song, Randy set the reverb control on his Freedom Amp at the maximum setting. It’s the only time he used the reverb effect on a Bedemon song. In addition, Bobby brought his Gibson SG to the session and played “Feedback Guitar” in the background of the song during the verses.
When Randy wanted to record 2 more compositions some months later, Mike Matthews was unavailable (for reasons which none of us can recall at this point!) and Bobby offered to fill in on bass. He did an admirable job, considering that he is left-handed and was playing a right-handed bass upside-down! The recording session that day produced “One-Way Road” (music by Randy, lyrics by Geof) and “Child of Darkness 2,” a song Randy would love to bury and forget! The only reason he wrote it is because he thought it was cool that a hard rock band from 1968 called The Hook had written a sequel to one of their songs! Believe us—“Child of Darkness 2” will NEVER appear on a Bedemon CD….! (And you will be glad of this—take our word!)
By the time Bedemon next recorded , Mike was available again and brought in his first solo composition, “Last Call.” We recorded it, along with Randy’s latest, “Into the Grave” (later retitled “Bloodshot Dreams”) and “Dark Mind Dark Heart” (later retitled “Through the Gates of Hell”—Palmer does have a problem at times deciding what to call his own compositions!). Because “Last Call” was Mike’s song through and through, Randy switched places with him, playing the bass parts while Mike played rhythm guitar. When it was time to record the solos (of which there were 3, the most ever in a Bedemon song), Mike played the first and third ones using Randy’s favorite distortion box, the Big Muff Pi, while Randy used something called a “Fuzz Phazer” which made it sound as if his guitar was vomiting! Randy played the solos in the other tunes recorded that day using the Big Muff.
It was during the recording of these three songs that Bobby dispensed with using the Peavy PA system, opting instead to sing straight into the Roberts recording mic on Geof’s reel-to-reel recorder! His voice sounded so much clearer and cleaner when it wasn’t being pushed through the Peavy amplifiers that Bedemon opted to record all of his future vocals that way.
The final 2 Bedemon numbers from the original sessions recorded between 1972-74 were Randy’s “Skinned” (originally known as “Skin”) and “Touch the Sky” (later retitled…no, only kidding. Oh, alright, originally Randy called it “Days of Hell.” Given the man’s penchant for retitling his own songs about as often as Black Sabbath changed band members, this song might appear on a new Bedemon release under either title!)
Several years passed, and in 1978, Randy, Geof, and Mike got together one last time to record 2 more Palmer compositions, “Time Bomb” and “Nighttime Killer,” along with an untitled song of Geof’s. Mike was planning on moving to Seattle, Washington, so we believed this would be the final Bedemon recording. Randy split lead solo duties between Mike and Geof, giving Geof both of the guitar solos in “Time Bomb,” as well as the 2nd solo in “Nighttime Killer,” and handing Mike the “pretty” solo in the quiet part of that song. “I was more interested in just playing rhythm then,” Randy pointed out. “It didn’t matter to me who played the leads, as long as they sounded good.” Could this be a musical first? A guitarist with no ego…!??
Unexpectedly, in 1986, Randy, Geof, and original Pentagram bassist Greg Mayne got together and, with guitarist Norman Lawson (who had earlier played in a band of Geof’s called Sex II), performed instrumental versions of “Time Bomb,” “Touch the Sky,” and the previously unrecorded “Night of the Demon” (the lyrics of which were based on Randy’s all-time favorite horror film, Curse of the Demon). In addition, a song called “Starlady” was also captured on tape. “Starlady” was a song Randy had co-written with Bobby while he was in Pentagram. These 4 songs were the last Bedemon recordings…until now.
2001 and Beyond
As mentioned previously, in the spring of 2001, journalist and musician Perry Grayson (former guitarist for metal band Destiny’s End and now Artisan) began attempting to track down the former members of both Pentagram and Bedemon in preparation for a series of articles he was planning to write on these bands. He’d heard numerous tapes and bootleg CDs over the years and was a fan. After speaking with Randy, Mike and then Geof, the three members begun discussing the possibility of getting together to record some new music. With Randy in North Carolina, Mike in Arizona and Geof in California, this wasn’t a task considered lightly, but it was strongly felt that it was time to record some proper Bedemon music.
Fan after fan worldwide kept crawling out of the grave to tell the band how much they had influenced their lives. “I used to have a great job and loving wife,” wrote one rabid follower, “but now I’m hooked on smack and spend my nights cruising downtown looking for teen prostitutes. Thanks, Bedemon!” No, thank YOU, Walter G. of St. Louis! And Chelsea of Portland e-mailed us, letting us know that our lyrics had inspired her to become a virgin sacrifice for a group of loser Ecstasy-gulping misfits at her high school. “After they’ve gang-raped me and I feel that blade pressing into my chest, I’ll be humming a Bedemon tune as I race towards the sweet release of death’s dark promise. Any suggestions?” Well, no, Chelsea, but don’t think we aren’t honored! Maybe we’ll write a song about you …”Chelsea Mourning.”
Talks among the three members soon led to a wave of creative inspiration as new demos began to emerge and plans were falling into place to get together at Geof’s Garageland Studios during the last week of October. “We had planned to write a new song collectively on Halloween,” says Geof, “and then probably go out and shake down kids for their candy.”
In addition to working on new material, it was also decided to properly release the vintage Bedemon stuff from the 70s. Explains Geof: “The stuff that’s been out there for a few years was made off of 3rd generation cassettes at best. The speed’s off on some tracks and they sound pretty bad. I have the actual reel masters and a friend in the music biz in L.A. is working on the tapes. We hope to release this with a nice booklet with liner notes and the works. No, no, not a syringe; I mean it will have a lot of info about the sessions.”
Unfortunately (as explained in the News section), the October sessions had to be cancelled due to a work conflict. Says Randy, “This is good in a way, because now we can concentrate on getting the old stuff out first. The recording session for the new material will take place in April of 2002, and the extra time also gives us a chance to write even more new songs.” Bedemon: The Story Continues.
As detailed in our periodic news updates, the members of Bedemon got together in April 2002 and recorded almost an hour’s worth of new metal music. The rough mixes sound darned good (excuse us while we pat each other on the back), and we’re more than happy with the result. Now comes the hard part: finding a singer that the fans will accept, who can reproduce the kind of vocals we want Bedemon to have. Originally we had a trio of potential vocalists to consider, and now that number has been reduced to two. By October 2002 we hope to have overdubs finished, the album remixed, and everything ready to shop to the labels.
So what at will 2003 bring? If the fans like the new Bedemon material, there’s no reason why guitarist Palmer, bassist Matthews, drummer O’Keefe and vocalist “Mr. X” shouldn’t continue delivering lots more monstrous music. Randy is constantly writing new tunes (“I’ve got nearly 30 years of unused doom riffs in my head that are just dying to get out”) so believe it when we tell you there’s no lack of material. And since Randy isn’t interested in changing the focus of the band, you can count on Bedemon to keep delivering the kind of gloomy, funereal riffage that it is known for.
On July 31st in Northern Virginia, Randy was a passenger in a car along with his fiancée Taryn and her teenage son when they were broadsided by a car running a red light. The impact was on the side where Randy was sitting. While Taryn and her son weren’t seriously injured, Randy suffered major internal trauma. He was in Intensive Care for eight days before dying Thursday afternoon, August 8th with Taryn by his side, a mere two months after his 49th birthday on June 8th.
As for the future, Randy had expressed a desire to re-record the old 70s material in better quality and to also get together maybe every year or two and record new albums. Obviously, these plans will never see fruition. Even though all three members contributed to Bedemon, it was entirely Randy’s concept and vision. Although Mike, Geof and Taryn all agreed that Randy’s music must reach the public, and have vowed one way or another to get both the old and new material out there for all to hear, there will be no future Bedemon without Randy. There is a possibility that beyond the reissue of the 70s stuff and the new album, a final album could be assembled containing some various unreleased tracks, demos and so on, but this is way down the line if at all.