The World Was Their Öyster

Five Things About that Band that Wrote "(Don't Fear) the Reaper"

The World Was Their Öyster

1. Despite what classic-rock radio stations might lead you to believe, Blue Öyster Cult recorded numbers that were not "(Don't Fear) the Reaper." If you were paying attention, you may have also heard "I'm Burnin' for You" ("Well I'm burning, I'm burning, I'm burning for you, I'm burning, I'm burning, I'm burning for you") and "Godzilla" ("Oh, no, they say he's got to go, go go Godzilla"). Those are all their songs. Real story: Brand-new Stranger music editor Emily Nokes once made a longboard and painted a Godzilla and some of the song's lyrics on it! ("NEVER TELL ANYONE!")

2. Before they settled on the name Blue Öyster Cult, the band played as Soft White Underbelly—supposedly referring to a famous remark in which Winston Churchill referred to Italy as the "soft underbelly of the Mediterranean." They also played as Oaxaca, Stalk-Forrest Group, and Santos Sisters, among other absolutely not-catchy handles. The final name came from then-manager Sandy Pearlman, who at the time was a budding poet and asked the band to play music over which his poetry could be sung. In said poetry, the Blue Oyster Cult was a reference to "a group of aliens who had assembled to secretly guide Earth's history." Band member Allen Lanier is often credited with adding the unnecessary umlaut above the "O," though rock critic Richard Meltzer claims he suggested it "because of the Wagnerian aspect of Metal." Either way, LOUD BULLSHIT DETECTOR SOUND. Later, Pearlman went on to be the founding vice-president of eMusic and presumably no longer writes poetry about space aliens.

3. Blue Öyster Cult are almost invariably referred to on the internet as "thinking man's heavy metal"—because other heavy metal is apparently for men who don't think. A Boolean search of "'Blue Oyster Cult' and 'thinking man's heavy metal'" over at yields "about 47,000" results!

4. "We got fired more than we got hired," singer Eric Bloom said of the band's formative years in a 1992 interview. Ignoring the seemingly unintentional literary paradox of this statement, let the record show that BÖC toiled in obscurity at the beginning of their career, being forced to learn and then play covers of other bands' hits in crappy bars throughout Long Island. If your band is in a similar predicament, do not fret (HAR HAR). Malcolm Gladwell posits in Outliers that a similar predicament in Hamburg helped the Beatles eventually achieve greatness.

5. If Patti Smith had become the band's singer, you would know that they had more than one song, and they wouldn't be playing the Emerald Queen Casino! Although Patti Smith contributed lyrics to several of BÖC's songs, she was only briefly considered for the lead singer position and instead just lived with then keyboard player Allen Lanier for a while. Good call, dudes. The end. recommended

This article has been updated since its original publication.

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Comments (10) RSS

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freesandbags 1
On Your Feet Or On Your Knees Bitches!!
Posted by freesandbags on August 1, 2012 at 7:31 PM · Report this
Beatles in Berlin?...

I think you mean Hamburg...

Also, any thoughtful/thinking-man BOC fan would consider "Godzilla" a piece o' late period fluff n' stuff,... check the black and white albums, Blue Oyster Cult, Tyranny and Mutation & Secret Treaties! (preferably on mushrooms) & Have mercy!
Posted by SLabb on August 2, 2012 at 5:41 PM · Report this
Beatles in Berlin?...

I think you mean Hamburg...

Also, any thoughtful/thinking-man-BOC fan would consider "Godzilla" a piece o' late period fluff n' stuff,... check the black and white albums, "Blue Oyster Cult", "Tyranny and Mutation" & Secret Treaties! (preferably on mushrooms & a bonfire of Mastodon CDs!) Heck!...with proper management these boys coulda been bigger than Scientology!
Posted by SLabb on August 2, 2012 at 5:47 PM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 4
Damnit! You are correct Mr. SLabb. I will request a correction.
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus on August 2, 2012 at 7:45 PM · Report this
Patti Smith, no kidding?

She's as Beautiful as a Foot has got to be one of the best hair metal songs ever. I don't think Patti Smith had anything to do with that one though.
Posted by Rhizome on August 3, 2012 at 1:47 PM · Report this
They earned the umlauf.
Posted by drinkup on August 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM · Report this
Estey 7
Also, cyber punk daddy John Shirley wrote lyrics for them as well. His rock science fiction novel "City Come A Walkin" is still an underground classic, and his horror fiction is sublime. This is especially noteworthy as he is a NW boy, an early punk who grew up in Salem, OR and founded Sado Nation in Portland (but left before they became neo-Nazi).
Posted by Estey on August 3, 2012 at 4:29 PM · Report this
I got one of their albums in '81 or so. Until 3 minutes ago, I had no idea they were considered heavy metal, or that heavy metal existed back then. And here I owned a heavy metal album for, like, two decades! More like the unawares man's heavy metal.
Posted by jussmbdy on August 3, 2012 at 9:48 PM · Report this
BOC had the same producers as the Dictators.

I rescued a single from the discard bin at my college radio station: "Career of Evil" / "Dominance and Submission". One of those songs had lyrics by Patti Smith.
Posted by al lesklar on August 5, 2012 at 7:06 PM · Report this
hey, when I was a liquor store delivery driver in Great Neck, Long Island, circa 1975, I used to deliver to Eric Bloom, he had a nice apartment. Nothing special as far as a tipper, if my burned out memory is worth anything.
Posted by dave the rave on August 5, 2012 at 9:50 PM · Report this

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