Randy became a confirmed horror movie addict when his parents took him to see “The Fly” in 1958. Growing up in the 1960’s and ’70s, Randy got a chance to see tons of great horror films on the big screen, and he used to haunt local record stores asking for horror movie soundtracks. Back then, there were almost no horror soundtracks (a compilation called “Themes from Horror Movies” was about the only such item commercially available). Of course, things are much different today, and Randy continues to collect horror soundtracks. He especially likes the work of composer
James Bernard, who worked on many of Britain’s Hammer horror films.
Although Randy was certainly aware of rock-&-roll in the 1960’s, it wasn’t until the warped birth of embryonic heavy metal–when Blue Cheer unleashed “Vincebus Eruptum” in 1968, when 1969 vomited forth The Stooges’ debut, and when Iron Butterfly created the fuzzed-out “Iron Butterfly Theme”–that Randy really sat up and took notice. As soon as Black Sabbath’s first album appeared in record stores in February 1970, Randy grabbed it off the rack, not knowing a thing about it. “It looked like it might be scary”, he recalled. When he put the record on his turntable, it was like a nightmare-come-true. “When I first heard those crushing doom chords of the first song, ‘Black Sabbath’, I sat in stunned silence,” says Randy. “Here was exactly what I always wanted, although I didn’t know I wanted it, because until it existed I just couldn’t have imagined it! It was like horror movie music being played with heavy guitars & tons of volume!”
Randy bought all the metal albums that appeared in the early ’70s, including truly obscure stuff such as Lincoln Street Exit, Night Sun, Sir Lord Baltimore, and Buffalo. He began writing material like “Child of Darkness,” and soon joined Geof and Bobby in the 1974 version of Pentagram. Meanwhile, his love of horror movies led him to start writing articles for monster magazines such as “Famous Monsters of Filmland.” He eventually joined the magazine as a full-time staff editor in the early 1980’s. Working in New York City, he also edited “Creepy,” “Vampirella,” “Eerie,” and a sci-fi comic magazine called “1994.” His articles also appeared in competitors’ publications, such as “Cinefantastique,” “Filmfax,” and “Fangoria.” In 1997 he wrote his first book, “Paul Blaisdell: Monster Maker”, published in hardcover by McFarland. This was followed by “Herschell Gordon Lewis: Godfather of Gore” last year (also from McFarland).
On August 8th, 2002 we lost our good friend Randy Palmer. We will continue to share Randy’s music and vision with Bedemon fans all over the world through this website.
It’s probably no coincidence that Geof O’Keefe was born in Detroit Rock City, home of some of his musical idols. “Even though I didn’t live there, so much of the Motor City music scene was an influence on me. Bands like the Amboy Dukes, SRC, Dick Wagner & the Frost, the Stooges, and the MC5; that’s what I grew up on.”
O’Keefe actually got his musical start while living in Bangkok at age six, taking up the ukulele. “I can’t remember a thing!” he says now. Later, having returned to the
states and living in Indiana, he switched over to acoustic guitar lessons at age eight, only to have them end abruptly when his young instructor was killed in a horrible car wreck with a train. “I’m not sure I got that much out of the lessons. My guitar playing’s pretty much self-taught.” In the late sixties, his parents bought him a cherry red Gibson Melody Maker and a Sears Silvertone twin-twelve amp, both of which he still owns to this day. “The Melody Maker is the only electric guitar I’ve ever owned. Every song I’ve written, every solo I’ve played, has been on that guitar.”
O’Keefe is candid about his guitar abilities. “I have no idea what I’m doing technically, but I know how to play in key. I’m sloppy and repetitive, but I think the passion slithers through. My favorite solo so far is the middle one in “Time Bomb.” I play a lot these days. I’m getting faster and wilder, and so is my guitar playing. I know what excites me in a solo, and so I’m trying to give that back to the Bedemon fans.”
However, O’Keefe is better-known as a drummer. “The guitar is my favorite instrument to listen to; but the drums are my favorite to play.”
Geof started out in the mid sixties by practicing on KFC chicken tubs (!) and playing along to Paul Revere and the Raiders and Dave Clark 5 records. It was during this period that he experienced a tremendous weight gain. “I needed more drums! Original Recipe for the toms, Extra Crispy for the snare.” O’Keefe soon moved up to a Remco toy drum kit and eventually his first “real” drums, a Gretsch set. “This is what I used throughout most of Pentagram. I had the set-up used by some of my favorite drummers such as John Bonham and John Garner (of Sir Lord Baltimore): single oversized bass drum, single mounted oversized tom, two floor toms and an extra-deep, super loud snare. I was never a big fan of playing a double-bass kit, although they do look cool on stage and I did in fact use that set-up in my later bands, Empire and Action. I used to cut the tips off my drum sticks and round them off. I kept breaking them anyway, so I figured why not? Eventually I found some sticks that felt right and seemed to last without the chopping, those being both Pro Mark’s Billy Cobham 808s and their Heavy Soul 909s.”
Geof’s father George was an executive at a direct mailing warehouse in Alexandria, Virginia and this afforded him the perfect place to practice and jam with musician friends at night. Out of these late sixties/early seventies gatherings came O’Keefe’s first band, the trio Space Meat. Led by the virtuoso guitar playing, singing and songwriting of John Jennings (later to go on to fame with Mary Chapin Carpenter) and future-partner-in-Pentagram bassist Greg Mayne, the band’s all-original material was a mix of Cream-jamming-styled hard rock mixed with somewhat Neil Young-ish ballads, all written by Jennings. They played high schools and private parties in the Northern Virginia area.
For a brief period of time, Shades of Darkness vocalist (and Geof’s neighbor and good friend) Bobby Liebling joined the band and the name was changed to Stonebunny. However, this union didn’t last long and when Liebling left the band continued under their original name, Space Meat.
Eventually Space Meat broke up, due in part to the difficulty of obtaining gigs while playing all original material. O’Keefe and Liebling decided to start from scratch and formed Pentagram, with Geof switching over to guitar and fellow Wakefield High student Steve Martin taking over the drumming chores. Before long, Geof realized his place was better suited on the drums, and Martin, whose jazz influences were alien to the heavy sound Pentagram was trying to formulate, left the band. The classic Pentagram MK IV line up of Bobby Liebling (vocals), Vincent McAllister (guitar), Greg Mayne (bass) and O’Keefe on drums finally fell into place on Christmas day, 1971. This musically-rich-but-volatile quartet, expanded to a five-piece during three separate periods with the additional guitar of Bedemon’s Randy Palmer (twice, in ’74 and ’75) and Marty Iverson (’76) lasted through 1976 and three different managers, recording three 45s and three demo tapes (including one at CBS in New York, produced by Murray Krugman and Sandy Pearlman of Blue Oyster Cult/Dictators fame). “Egos and drugs killed the band,” says O’Keefe wistfully, sipping his bottled water. More than one manager abandoned us over the years mainly due to personal conflicts,” self-righteously adding, “I wasn’t one of the hard druggies, by the way.” It was during the band’s later period in ’76 that O’Keefe’s songwriting began to blossom. “I love Bobby’s stuff,” Geof states emphatically. “It’s brilliant and incredibly fun to play, but it wasn’t commercial in the “verse/chorus/verse/chorus” way record companies wanted. So I started writing material more in the vein of Rainbow, Sweet, UFO and so on.” O’Keefe, McAllister and Mayne quit Pentagram in early ’77, and Geof and Vincent went on to join Sex, a “supergroup” which also featured Bret Reiss of The Boyz, a band which coincidentally included future Pentagram drummer Joe Hasselvander. Incredibly, and despite his having written nearly all the group’s material, the band booted O’Keefe out in favor of a technically more-proficient drummer. With their setlist essentially gone and unable to replace the O’Keefe-penned songs with their own original material, Sex subsequently fell apart in a few months. “Short-sighted fools,” says the scorned drummer, betraying the slightest hint of bitterness to this day, “that band could’ve really gone somewhere but they blew it.”
While not one to rest on his laurels, finding them both uncomfortable and somewhat prickly, Geof formed a new group which, for lack of a better name, was called Sex II. Aside from O’Keefe, the band was comprised of guitarists Norman Lawson and Dave Kovel and bassist Vance Backus. Sex II recorded a number of new O’Keefe songs (“Some of my best stuff!”) in Vance’s basement but were unable to find a vocalist and eventually disbanded.
Two other bands followed in the first half of the 80s, Empire and Action, but neither contained the magic of Pentagram or Sex (“…or Bedemon,” adds O’Keefe, chuckling as he pops a grape in his mouth while a hand-maiden fans him from the side).
In 1988, O’Keefe moved from the D.C. area after twenty-two years and headed to California, where he resides to this day. “I meant to go to Sweden but made a wrong turn.” He was a nighttime dj for six years at KOTR (“Afterglow” hosted by Nightman) and has continued to write for various outlets such as the record collector’s publication Goldmine (his first piece was a lengthy article/interview with Dickie Peterson of Blue Cheer in the May 23rd,1986 issue) and the jazz/fusion website FUSE, in addition to selling records and music memorabilia over the web (you can link to dozens of O’Keefe writings and references by using the Google search engine and entering his full name).
He finds the whole Bedemon phenomenon “mind-blowing.” “It’s unbelievable that this little side project is now getting this attention, especially when I was putting all the effort into Pentagram! But you know, it’s fun. I love playing both drums and guitar and writing songs, and our goal with this new material is to make every song a classic. No sucky piano ballads or anything. Randy’s got some killer new material like “Godless,” Mike’s working on some things and I’ve got at least three new songs, one of which is “Ice Queen,” kind of like Captain Beyond-meets-Sabbath. It will be way heavier than anything we did before. Promise!”
Mike Matthews was hit over the head hard with with the need to play screaming guitar the first time he heard Jimi Hendrix in 1969. Prior to that he nearly got his family thrown out of their apartment for incessantly pounding drums as loud as possible. Fortunately for Mike’s mother, it was several years before he could afford an amplifier for his first guitar, an SG Special, so he practiced either “dry” or plugged into a record player.
Mike was an army brat, born in Fort Dix, New Jersey. The first 12 years of his life were spent moving every year or two. After New Jersey, there was a year in Georgia, a year in California, two years in Beirut, Lebanon a year in Morocco, a year in Pennsylvania, a year in Yemen, another year in Pennsylvania, a year in Kansas and finally in 1968 after his parents were divorced, the travels ended for awhile in Arlington, Virgina. It was in Arlington that Mike realized that nothing was as cool as playing music, so he started playing drums, guitar and bass and getting seriously exposed to loud rock and roll.
While working on the Bedemon project, Mike played bass for a band called the Galactic 5, who played originals and covers from groups like Gentle Giant, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd and Savoy Brown. That eclectic mix never went anywhere and soon self-destructed, but valuable experience was gained and Mike got together with local legend guitarists, Chris Middleton and Eddie Cooper, and keyboardist, Harold Smith, to form a new band called “Jimmyproof Deadlock”. (God, who thought of these names?) This band showed a lot of promise with two fine guitarists playing lots of intricate harmonies and tight rhythms, but came to a premature demise when a riot broke out at a party they were playing. As the police were arresting partygoers who were hurling bricks through cop car windshields, the band slipped out the basement door and Harold Smith quit on the spot followed by everyone else.
Mike decided to get as far away from Arlington as possible, so he moved to Seattle in 1979 to attend the University of Washington. He also decided to quit music and sold everything he owned. About 2 months later, in Seattle, he realized he was addicted to playing and formed an acoustic duo called Breakfast of Champions with Bruce Lindeke, a fellow U of W student. Mike and Bruce played some originals and lots of Grateful Dead, Asleep at the Wheel and even some Hank Williams. Soon after came a sax player, a bass player and a drummer. Mike wasn’t really cut out to play country so “the band had a meeting”, changed the format to loud rock and roll, replaced Bruce with lead singer Roger Wilkins in 1982 and the band’s name was changed to The Convertibles, with Mike now playing lead guitar full time. The Convertibles stayed together for 17 years and played in every club, hotel and festival in the Seattle area, recording 7 or 8 originals, but mostly playing up-tempo covers “real loud”. In the mid 80’s to early 90’s, the band was arguably the most popular club band in Seattle and opened for the Beach Boys and Three Dog Night. Things slowed down for the Convertibles in the late 90’s but no one was really willing to stick a fork into it until 1998 when Mike announced that he was moving to Arizona because he was sick of the rain.
Soon after arriving, Mike formed the Mohave County Five, the only rock and roll band in Kingman, Arizona. In one short year the MC5 (not the ones Geof grew up on) have gotten an original played on the local radio station, starred in a local televised telethon (is that redundant?), and headlined the Mohave County Fair. Pretty heady stuff…
Through it all, the bottom line for Mike has been having fun playing music and playing it real loud. He expects to be playing as long as he can stand up and hopes he will meet his demise on a stage performing. He thinks getting back together with his Bedemon brothers to kick out some more mind crunching doom rock will really increase the odds of that happening! Doom on!
Craig Junghandel (pronounced, yoong-hon-del) first discovered his love for singing in his late teens/early twenties. It was at this time that he began to cultivate, and further his talent by jamming with friends. Craig sang off and on in various garage bands throughout his twenties. After years of treating his gift as a hobby, he finally felt the need to get serious and form a working band.
Craig wanted to form a cover band that would pay tribute to some of his favorite influences. These would include: Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, AC/DC, Rainbow, and many others. With the help of a longtime friend/guitarist, they set out to form a band – primarily focusing on the 70s and 80s hard rock that they both shared a passion for. After recruiting the other would be members, the band “Gauntlet” was formed. Unfortunately, the project never left the rehearsal room. Despite this fact, the band played a significant role in Craig’s future. Fortunately for him, the band had managed to record one of their practices on to a CD-R. It was soon after this band’s break up, that he would learn of Bedemon.
Through a mutual friend of Geof’s, he was recommended as a possible candidate for the 2002 material. After talking with Geof about the new recordings, he was very eager to be a part of Bedemon. After listening to Craig’s, “Gauntlet Demo” (which consisted of four live takes of the following: NIB, Behind the Wall of Sleep, Victim of Changes, and The Ripper), Geof was definitely interested in getting him in to record some of their material.
In order to demonstrate to Mike and Randy what Craig was capable of, Geof had him add vocals to five of the new Bedemon recordings, including an all new rendition of, “Skinned”. Both Mike and Randy agreed with Geof’s recommendation of Craig as the new Bedemon singer, thus completing the band.
Due to the tragedies that befell the band over the past few years, Craig’s recording of the new material had only just now been scheduled for fall of this year. However, he has been quite busy though throughout this time. Craig has been keeping his chops up by fronting his other band, RISE.
“I am very eager to get to work on the 2002 recordings. Although Bedemon has been quiet for the past few years, it is still very much alive. I am truly honored to be a part of this new record.”