Charles Gocher: 1953 – 2007


In terms of innovation, passion, durability, and flexibility, few American bands matched the quality of the Sun City Girls. Though they never came close to commercial success, they obtained an extremely dedicated cult following due to their highly diverse and unpredictably entertaining albums. The trio formed in 1982 in Sun City, Arizona, consisting of three friends: bassist Alan Bishop, guitarist Richard Bishop, and drummer Charles Gocher. The three friends never ceased to display their passion, releasing over 40 full-length recordings in over 21 years. Sadly, on Monday, February 19th, Charles Gocher passed away at the age of 54 after a struggle with cancer. In touch with his humane character, his disease was unknown to even the most dedicated Sun City Girls fans, which was simply how Gocher wanted it. Putting his influence as an extremely capable drummer and musician aside, Gocher was known a free spirit, both open minded musically and as a human being. Alan and Richard Bishop released this statement in regard to the tragic event: “With deep regret, we must announce that Charles Gocher passed away yesterday in Seattle due to a long battle with cancer at the age of 54. He is survived by the two of us who adopted him as a brother 25 years ago and his many friends around the world. He will be missed more than most could ever know. Our thanks to everyone for their support and encouragement during the past three, very difficult years. Many of you were not aware that Charles was ill and that’s because he wanted it that way. Details of a memorial in his honor will be announced soon“.


I have been a fan of Sun City Girls for several years now. During that time, they have shown musical blends and experimental genres that opened my eyes to a vast amount of styles and unique approaches. They are a perfect example of how a lack of commercial success does not mean that a band holds has no influence or impact on music. Understandably, I find that a lot of people have never even heard the Sun City Girls. While Gocher’s death is certainly a tragic circumstance for an introduction, sharing the music of the Sun City Girls is certainly better late than never. Known primarily as musicians, they were also known as performance artists, dressing in festive attire such as kabuki makeup, associating cultural legends and mysticism in their lyrical content. They cannot be clumped into any genre, as they have used snippets of literally every major musical style known to man, displaying the likes of jazz, punk, surf, psychedelia, soul, hip-hop, improvisation, and beat poetry. Their influences have also stretched far and wide, creating music that echoes elements from geographical locations such as the Middle East, South America, South Asia, Africa, and Europe. Most of the time they strayed away from the Western scene and dwelled on foreign creativity, explaining their lack of Western success. My favorite Sun City Girls album is also arguably their most popular, being 1990’s Torch of the Mystics. As shown in the three tracks below, there is not one band who sounds like Sun City Girls. The ethnicity presented in the album is far beyond the limitations of contemporary bands, from the whistling Western-esque “The Shining Path” to the Egyptian surf inspired “Radar 1941”. “Esoterica of Abyssynia” is a nice display of the trio working together musically, being a freeform instrumental where the Bishop brothers and Gocher work well together expressively and rhythmically. Through their countless number of actual releases, the Sun City Girls have established themselves as one of the most influential artists in the history of American underground music. With the tragic passing of Charles Gocher, one can only hope that their music will now be appreciated to a fuller extent. I offer my deepest condolences to Golcher’s family and friends.


Sun City Girls – The Shining Path



Sun City Girls – Radar 1941



Sun City Girls – Esoterica of Abyssynia



Official Web Site


Mike Mineo

I'm the founder/editor of Obscure Sound, which was formed in 2006. Previously, I wrote for PopMatters and Stylus Magazine.

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  1. ‘The shining path’ is in fact a cover of ‘Lambada’, huge hit for Kaomo end of the eighties. I don’t know if Kaomo’s version is the original one, it doesn’t matter cause ‘The shining path’ is a milion times better.
    A classic. I played it hundreds of times.

  2. Thanks for posting this. His death is really painful to some of my closest friends, esp my friends in the Thinking Fellers, who toured w/ him and loved him a lot, and Scott, of Exiled Records in Portland.

  3. I knew Charlie back in the early days, Phoenix. He was turning people on to amazing obscurantist jazz and world music all the time. A heart big enough to hold the world. Goodbye, friend.

  4. Sorry to hear Charlie died.Wonder what happened to him We had a band in high school + couple of years after..We grew up in Glendale Ca..GREAT GUY + FUNNY..He turned me on to the DEAD..We went to our 1st Dead concert together in Hollywood 1969.His mother was pissed cause she had to pay the taxi bill to get home..Bus stopped running.! He was a fine musician way back then.. Wish i hadnt lost touch with him.Rest in peace my old friend.! Say hello to Jerry Garcia for me..

  5. I have a number of comments stories about my old friend i could He + i were tight for a number of years..Glad to see he found some brothers to play music with.. Jeez i wish he was still here so i could jam with him.!!

  6. I could post some other comments about the band + other mis adventures when we grew up together.I havent seen him in years yet i havent stopped thinking about him since i read the news yesterday.We were close for a few years and we had a mutual respect for each others talents.. And he was ALLWAYS on the cutting edge of new music .. If he knew that was i playin country music backin female singers in the honky tonks he probably slap me silly.!!.Altho we did like the the DEAD”S country music that music isnt challenging enough..WE like to jam + improvise.If you have a musical drummer like Charlie you can take the music ANYWHERE..!Im thinkin of the song”you were allways on my mind”..Willie Nelson..i didnt know where Charlie was but i thought about him OFTEN..Paul

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