Posted by: Loren Coleman on January 31st, 2012
A favorite photo of Al Berry, shared by Ron Morehead. Posted with permission.
Another Bigfooter is gone. The sense that several people known to us have died recently is true. Monica’s son Riley Rawlins, 17, on Jan. 7th; John Green’s wife June, 83, on Jan. 17th; Lou Farish, 74, on Jan. 26th; Richard Freeman’s half-brother Duane Beers, 25, on Jan. 27th; and Alan Berry, on Jan. 30th.
Al Berry has died, according to his longtime friend Ron Morehead. Alan Berry passed away last night, January 30, 2012. Al is remembered for the now incredibly well-known alleged Bigfoot vocalizations called “Sierra Sounds.”
Ron, who will miss his friend greatly, writes, with further information: “Al was 71 years of age, January 17th. He died after years of health complications. His heart just gave out during the night. He was bed-ridden and had been on oxygen for a couple years.”
The Sierra Sounds are a series of disputed audio recordings of the alleged chatter of Bigfoot in the mountains of the American West. Captured on tape by Ron Morehead and Al Berry, at their “Sierra Camp” in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, eastern California, at various times during the first half of the 1970s, they have been the focus of much study.
The Berry and Morehead expeditions collected the recordings in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California by hanging a microphone from a tree branch. Meanwhile, inside their shelter, journalist Al Berry of the Sacramento Bee had run a cord from the mic outside to a reel-to-reel audio recording deck inside their rustic log shelter.
The cabin was a large, teepee-shaped log structure built by hunters. The Bigfoot would run away when Berry and Morehead would come out of the structure, and the men could see nothing from inside their shelter. The supposed creatures in the woods were heard but never seen. It is assumed, therefore, they were Bigfoot.
Al Berry and Ron Morehead are shown here, both speaking about their Sierra Sounds recordings in 2005, at Jason Valenti’s Sasquatch Symposium, in Bellingham, Washington State. I met Al and Ron there, for the first time. Several Bigfoot researchers, such as Craig Woolheater, Jeff Meldrum, and others, along with Bob Gimlin, were in attendance.
The Bluff Creek expedition of October 2002. Left to right, Joe Beelart, Joe Marks, Rick Ausin, Al Berry, Ron Morehead, Peter Byrne, Blake Eckard, and Todd Neiss.
Here is the bio of Al from the Bigfoot Sounds’ site:
Resident location: Carmichael, CA
Profession: Mining geologist. Holds three degrees, two in science, one a Master’s
Background: Former Army officer, served in Vietnam
Previously a newspaper reporter and freelance journalist
Wife: Dee. Associate Planner, California Department of Transportation
Al Berry wrote the narrative for the “Bigfoot Recording,” available on CD or Cassette. He is a Partner with Ron Morehead in Sierra Sounds. The following is his account of how he got involved with the Bigfoot phenomenon.
“A number of years ago, I was a newspaper reporter and a freelance journalist, and had the questionably good fortune to encounter Bigfoot, as the phenomenon is called. At a remote deer hunters’ camp in the Sierras, I and several other men were witness to a ‘presence,’ if you like, of several creatures who were crafty enough to avoid observation, but freely vocalized and whistled, several times, without doubt, to us, and left big prints of bare feet around in the snow and pine mat. Things like this happened not once in my presence, but several times, from late September through the first week on November when a heavy snowfall drove us out of the 9,000-foot-high wilderness area.
“I hiked into this camp with pre-knowledge that the hunters claimed strange things had happened there, beginning the previous season. I backpacked with a state-of-the-art Sony portable tape-recorder, some plaster of Paris, and my wits, thoroughly convinced someone was pulling someone’s leg, that it might be mine, and that I would expose the hunters’ ‘mystery.’
“The first time ‘in’ nothing happened, but I saw some inordinately large, but old, toe-ball-and-heel foot impressions at a sandy location. They seemed static, but I didn’t dismiss them. I rather figured this was evidence that the finger pointed back at one or more of the hunters and some jest.
“The second time in, things were different. As dusk became dark night, something approached camp from a ridge above, rapping on wood or rocks as it came, and when it arrived, two voices that I could discern, it vocalized, and the sounds carried through the trees as I have never heard human voices carry every before or since. And it whistled, a clear, beautiful whistle like a bird might make, between its kind, and at one point back and forth with us.
“This encounter went on for nearly an hour and a half, and another followed on the second night, and there were other encounters I can attest to later that season. I was able to get reasonably good tape recordings of the sounds and interaction, and we cast several of the foot impressions, both in pine mat and snow. I looked high and low for evidence of the joke, including searching the others’ belongings while they were away hunting. I wasn’t a novice investigator of facts, but I came home stumped, basically with nothing to write about until the story unraveled by itself or I helped in with further research and investigation.
“I pursued the matter to an end in 1978, when Dr. R. Lynn Kirlin, then at the University of Wyoming, and a Norwegian graduate student of electrical enginineering, Lasse Hertel, presented their findings of the sound recordings at a University of British Columbia symposium entitled ‘Anthropology of the Unknown.’
“By this time I had taken a fair amount of ridicule and scorn from the academic community in an effort to enlist scientific interest. At least one prominent scientist, Dr. Phillip Lieberman, then of the University of Connecticut, who is an expert in primate vocalization, at least of the Rhesus monkey, at first offered help then accused me of being a former student whom he had flunked to was trying to discredit him. Another PhD on the West Coast whom Kirlin referred me to used the recordings in his classroom as an example of how clever people can be when it comes to hoaxing others. His name was Minifie, University of Washington, as I recall. I have no quarrel with these folks, really.
But the mystery remains. The tapes remain open to challenge, and a lot of questions and answers remain.”
Al Berry wrote a famous paperback book on the hairy creatures, Bigfoot, with Ann Slate.
(Thanks for the sad news from Joe B.)