Drugs is the reason our band never made it. It’s as simple as that.
During their 15 year run, Goliath were constantly on the verge of success, working with top talent agencies and recording mountains of material—but were defeated again and again by chemical excess. At the center of the group were Steve and Bill Peterson, clean-living brothers desperately trying to hold the group together and keep their bandmates from becoming drug casualties. “I had two guitar players and both of them committed suicide in our band,” drummer Steve Peterson said. “In those days it was very hard to keep young guys straight.”
The roots of the band lay in Gerstmeyer Technical High School in Terre Haute, Indiana, where the Checkmates formed in 1964. They gained local recognition and recorded a 45 for Bogan Records. However, the single took so long to press that the Checkmates had already changed their name and lineup, with Jim Kitchen joining in 1966 as frontman. When the single was finally released, it was under the name the Sons of Sound. By 1968, guitar whiz David Graham had come in guitar and sent the Sons in a new direction, introducing them to Hendrix and psychedelic/progressive music. The new sound prompted a new name in Graham’s honor. “We were joking around about David,” Peterson said. “David and Goliath, and then David stoned Goliath, because David and Jim were doing a lot of chemicals.… David was an absolutely fabulous guitar player. Too bad he got into dope and ended up killing himself.”
Goliath began to work with Blytham Ltd. and future super-manager Irving Azoff, booking gigs across the midwest. Unfortunately, Graham had become an unpredictable liability: constantly stoned, ditching gigs, making purposeful mistakes, trying to play guitar with his toes on stage. “David got so bad into the drug thing, we knew we were gonna have to get rid of him,” Kitchen recalled, “[Later] he was in an institution up in Indianapolis for years. He got out and he still was a little wacky when you talked to him.”
Goliath fell apart with his departure, and the Petersons put together a new lineup in 1970 to fulfill contractual obligations with Blytham, featuring George Phelps on guitar, Doug Mason on keys, and George Egy on vocals. This new Goliath soon caught the attention of Triangle Talent, who sent the band to their Allen-Martin Productions studio in Louisville, Kentucky, and added them as stable writers to their publishing company, Fall City Music, demanding dozens of new songs and jingles every two weeks in order to sell the rights.
“It was really, really a hectic time,” Peterson remembered. “That’s what you had to do in those days. You just burned your youth out.” Sixty to seventy songs were recorded, though the country-rock direction Triangle demanded was at odds with Peterson’s growing interest in progressive rock. By 1974, Phelps, Mason, and Egy grew tired of the Triangle grind and moved to Atlanta to form Raven, and the Peterson brothers rebuilt Goliath again, with Dave Wood on keys, Paul Bays on guitar, and Kitchen re-joining on vocals. Triangle offered to release a Goliath album, of the kind of rock Peterson had wanted to make all along, on their own Bridges label. As usual, they gave the band only three weeks to write, rehearse, and record Hot Rocks & Thunder. “It’s nothing more than some raw sketches of some songs that were never finished,” Peterson said. “[Kitchen] literally sang every single song in one day…. I was amazed he had the strength in his voice and his lungs to keep that up.”
Amid further lineup changes, Kitchen departed for California to try to detox from the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle in 1983. “When I went out there, Paul was messing around with meth like lots of people were,” Kitchen said. “I dabbled in it a little bit out there and I said, ‘Why did I even come out here?’”
“Drugs is the reason our band never made it,” he said. “It’s as simple as that.”
- Goliath We’re Not Afraid
- Goliath Tell Me You’re Satisfied
- Goliath Dead Drunk Screamin’
- Goliath Hot Rock And Thunder
- Goliath The Apocalypse
- Goliath Silver Girl
- Goliath Ordinary Guy