Blue Öyster Cult Biography

The genesis of Blue Öyster Cult lay in the musical ambitions of rock writers Sandy Pearlman and Richard Meltzer. Based in Long Island, New York, the pair put together a group - known variously as the Cows, the Soft White Underbelly and Oaxaca - to perform their original songs. By 1969 the unit, now dubbed the Stalk Forrest Group, had formed around Eric Bloom (11 December 1944; guitar, vocals), Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser (b. 12 November 1947; guitar, vocals), Allen Lanier (b. 25 June 1946; keyboards, guitar), Joe Bouchard (b. 9 November 1948; bass, vocals) and Albert Bouchard (drums). The quintet completed a single, ‘What Is Quicksand’, before adopting the Blue Öyster Cult appellation. Early releases combined Black Sabbath -styled riffs with obscure lyricism, which engendered an ‘intelligent heavy metal’ tag. Cryptic titles, including ‘A Kiss Before The Redap’ and ‘OD’d On Life Itself’, compounded an image - part biker, part occult - assiduously sculpted by Pearlman, whose clean production technique also removed any emotional inflections. ‘Career Of Evil’ from Secret Treaties - co-written by Patti Smith - showed an increasing grasp of commercial hooklines, which flourished on 1976’s Byrds -sounding international hit, ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper’. Smith continued her association with the band on Agents Of Fortune, contributing to ‘Debbie Denise’ and ‘The Revenge Of Vera Gemini’. Romantically involved with Allen Lanier, she later added ‘Shooting Shark’ to the band’s repertoire for The Revolution By Night and single release. Fantasy writer Michael Moorcock, meanwhile, contributed to Mirrors and Cultosaurus Erectus.

The release of the live Some Enchanted Evening had already brought the band’s most innovative era to an end, despite an unlikely hit single, ‘Joan Crawford Has Risen From The Grave’, drawn from Fire Of Unknown Origin. Sustained by continued in-concert popularity, notably on the Black And Blue tour with Black Sabbath, elsewhere predictability had crept into their studio work. Former road crew boss Rick Downey replaced Al Bouchard in 1981, while the following year Roeser completed a solo album as the Cult’s own recordings grew less prolific. Imaginos in 1988 was the band’s reinterpretation of a Bouchard solo album that had never been released. Though of dubious origins, critics welcomed it as the band’s best work for several years. Afterwards, Joe Bouchard left the group to form Dead Ringer with Neal Smith (ex-Alice Cooper), Dennis Dunaway, Charlie Huhn and Jay Johnson. In 1992 the band wrote and performed most of the soundtrack to the horror movie Bad Channels. They reconvened in 1998 for the hard rocking Heaven Forbid, their first studio album in 10 years. Lanier, Bloom and Roeser were augmented by Danny Miranda (bass) and Bobby Rondinelli (drums) for Curse Of The Hidden Mirror, featuring lyrics by Richard Meltzer, John Trivers and SF/Fantasy author John Shirley.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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