The members of the band began to come together in the late 60s as a band called Soft White Underbelly in the vicinity of Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, formed at the prompting of critic Sandy Pearlman. Pearlman was very influential for the band, which included getting them gigs, their first record with Columbia, and using his poetry as the basis of many of their songs such as 1974’s “Astronomy”.
The band changed its name to the Stalk-Forrest Group in 1968. One single was released on Elektra Records under this name in 1969, though over one album of material was actually recorded. The groups’ name changed once more, to Blue Oyster Cult, in 1970. The umlaut was added later that year. They became a successful hard rock band during the 70s; unlike many of their colleagues, they are still active today.
They are best known for three songs: their 1976 single “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” from the album Agents of Fortune (also featured in the cult movie Halloween, and in Stephen King’s novel The Stand), “Godzilla” (1977) from the album Spectres and their 1981 single “Burnin’ for You” from the album Fire of Unknown Origin. Their song “Veteran of the Psychic Wars,” with lyrics penned by Michael Moorcock, appeared in the soundtrack of the movie Heavy Metal. Two other well-known songs are “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll” (1972) from the album Blue Öyster Cult, and “Astronomy” (1974) from Secret Treaties.
The umlaut on the “O” in their name started the trend for using the “heavy metal umlaut” in band names. It was suggested to Pearlman by rock critic Richard Meltzer.  Additionally, some have suggested Pearlman created the term “Heavy Metal” via the use of the band’s logo - an alchemical symbol for lead, one of the heaviest of metals.
BÖC have had a minor resurgence recently with two new albums, Heaven Forbid and Curse of the Hidden Mirror, with sixteen songs written or co-written by cyberpunk/horror novelist John Shirley.
BÖC also have enjoyed a resurgence of another kind, the result of a Saturday Night Live sketch featuring a VH1 “Behind the Music” portrayal of the studio sessions for “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”. The sketch, starring Christopher Walken and various cast members (including Will Ferrell as “Gene Frenkle”), centered around producer Bruce Dickinson (Walken) constantly pleading with the band that he needed “more cowbell”. The sketch became something of an internet phenomenon, and members of the band have acknowledged enjoying a small spike in popularity in the years since its broadcast.
Blue Oyster Cult founding member Allen Lanier passed away in August 2013. Besides his acclaimed work with his group, Lanier also notably played on the ‘Give ‘Em Enough Rope’ album released by The Clash and had a romantic relationship with artist Patti Smith for a while.
Edited by demoissster on 30 Jun 2014, 03:51
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