Sasquatch Coffee

Sierra Sounds’ Al Berry Has Died (Updated)

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.

Examples of the Sierra Sounds can also be heard here and here.

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:

Alan Berry
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.)

About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013.


14 Responses to “Sierra Sounds’ Al Berry Has Died (Updated)”

  1. Debbie Bruce Reid via Facebook responds:

    Sorry to hear of this ~ RIP Al

  2. stompy responds:

    Why are bigfooters dropping like flies? These are people of ALL ages.. I know you guys don’t like me much, but~ just sayin’..

  3. Simon Anglim via Facebook responds:

    Sad – reading his book when I was 15 was one of the things which got me interested. Those sounds certainly aren’t human…

  4. Hapa responds:

    I mentioned this in a previous post. It was not long ago also that a couple, two cryptozoologists, were killed together in Mexico, and others followed them. I remember a similar occurrence with a totally different field of study.

    If this continues, then something is not kosher in Denmark.

  5. bobosquatch responds:

    So sorry to hear about Al. He was one of my favorite people I’ve met through squatching. Al was a brilliant guy and a true pleasure to be around. My condolences to his family and friends.

  6. Kenneth Joholske via Facebook responds:

    The recordings although controversial, still are landmarks in the field. He will be missed greatly missed.

  7. John Kirk responds:

    Al Berry was a truly fine and decent man. His loss leaves a void in the sasquatch community. My sincere condolences go tho his family and I hope that Al’s legacy will be perpetuated in the years to come.

  8. paul_r responds:

    Stompy it would be a coincidence. Everyone dies some time and considerate folks here report the news.

  9. PoeticsOfBigfoot responds:

    Loren, you better look both ways before you step off the curb- that Fortean bus just might be turning the corner too fast.

  10. boggydepot315 responds:

    I was hoping to purchase the Sierra Sounds CDs off the website, yet it looks like it hasn’t been changed or updated in a while. Does anyone know if this is still a site where purchases can be made?

  11. Loren Coleman responds:

    Considering the details regarding the tragic death of Riley Rawlins by a speeding driver, one remark above was given in poor taste, if you ask me. Some people should think before they post things on the Internet.

  12. William Robert Hancock via Facebook responds:

    The book written in the mid-1970s with B. Ann Slate I have always considered a milestone in BF research. I wrote an Amazon.com review of it a few years back admitting that I had “blown it off” when it first came out—thinking it too “fanciful” and para-normal leaning at a time when I was very “scientific”-anthropological in my attitudes towards the mystery. Over the years I changed out of that mode and largely left it behind. Big apes ceased to work for me. More esoteric alternatives did. Re-thinking my outlook, I came to see that the Slate-Berry “Bigfoot” had become “right down my alley” in a new day and age. I still think so. Love the book and recommend it heartily to any and all. Sorry to hear of Berry’s passing. Slate has been dead a while now.

  13. Hapa responds:

    To Mr. Coleman:

    I’m sorry if I affended ; I didn’t mean to. I was just commenting on the fact that so many people involved in or linked to Crypto-zoology have passed away recently. One other poster mentioned that it was people of all ages. Even clicking on the obituaries link on Cryptomundo showed several recent mentions of people involved in the field passing away. I wrote about this in another previous post about the death of Duane Beers, 25 years old. It is most likely, as another mentioned, coincidence, but it is startling to me. I meant no disrespect.

    My Condolences for all the families who’ve lost these loved ones.

  14. Kopite responds:

    RIP Al Berry. Condolences to his family and friends. I didn’t know too much about Al himself but the Sierra Sounds are probably the only alleged bigfoot vocalisations that REALLY intrigue and baffle me.

    Too many people passing away in such a short span of time. So sad.



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