Blue Öyster Cult

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"All our times have come
Here but now they're gone
Seasons don't fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain

We can be like they are..."
"Don't Fear the Reaper"

Blue Öyster Cult is an American Hard Rock/Heavy Metal band. Their manager, Sandy Pearlman, formed the group as Soft White Underbelly in 1967. The group cut its teeth playing Country Music in biker bars before, at Pearlman's urging, their musical style shifted in a harder, psychedelic direction inspired by Black Sabbath. After some trials and tribulations, including the departure of lead singer Les Braunstein and his replacement with acoustic engineer Eric Bloom, the band eventually took the name Blue Öyster Cult (with a trope-making umlaut over the O) and released their self-titled album under Columbia Records in 1972. The original lineup consisted of lead singer/guitarist Eric Bloom, lead guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, guitarist/keyboardist Allen Lanier, and drummer Albert and bassist Joe Bouchard.

BOC reached mainstream success in 1976, with the release of their first platinum album, Agents of Fortune, and its hit single "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," followed by Spectres and the FM hit "Godzilla".

In 1981, BOC recorded Fire of Unknown Origin. The band had written several songs on this platinum album for the upcoming animated film Heavy Metal, but the producers chose "Veteran of the Psychic Wars," which wasn't done with the movie in mind. Albert Bouchard left the band after Fire.

Between 1985 and 1987, Allen Lanier and Joe Bouchard quit the band, leaving Eric Bloom and Don Roeser as the only original members. The band took 1987 off, Lanier returned, and they resumed touring with Jon Rogers and Ron Riddle. The band has released several studio albums since then, but none since 2001's Curse of the Hidden Mirror, and are now without a record deal. Their motto since the late '90s has been "On Tour Forever!", and they live up to it, continuously touring at fairs, clubs, festivals, casinos, and auditoriums across North America and Europe (often hitting the same venue more than once a year).

Let's not forget the cowbell. Hey, you gotta have it.

Blue Öyster Cult's current lineup;

  • Eric Bloom: Lead vocals, "stun guitar" (his style of rhythm guitar), keyboards
  • Buck Dharma: Lead guitar, vocals on various songs
  • Richie Castellano: Keyboards, guitar, bass, Backup vocals, lead vocals on "Hot Rails to Hell"
  • Rudy Sarzo: Bass guitar
  • Jules Radino: Drums, percussion

Former members:

  • Chuck Burgi: Drums
  • Albert Bouchard: Drums, lead vocals on various songs
  • Joe Bouchard: Bass, lead vocals on various songs
  • Les Braunstein: Lead vocals
  • Allen Lanier: Keyboards, guitar, backing vocals
  • Danny Miranda: Bass
  • Al Pitrelli: Guitar
  • Bobby Rondinelli: Drums
  • Jon Rogers: Guitar, songwriting
  • Ron Riddle: Drums
  • Patti Smith: Vocals on "The Revenge of Vera Gemini", from Agents of Fortune
Discography:
  • St. Cecilia (1970, unreleased until 2001): "What Is Quicksand?", "Donovan's Monkey"
  • Blue Öyster Cult (1972): "Transmaniacon M.C.", "Cities On Flame With Rock & Roll"
  • Tyranny and Mutation (1973): "The Red and the Black", "Hot Rails To Hell", "Mistress of the Salmon Salt (Quicklime Girl)"
  • Secret Treaties (1974): "Dominance and Submission", "M.E. 262", "Astronomy"
  • Agents Of Fortune (1976): "(Don't Fear) the Reaper", "E.T.I."
  • Spectres (1977): "Godzilla", "R.U. Ready 2 Rock"
  • Mirrors (1979): "Dr. Music", "In Thee"
  • Cultosaurus Erectus (1980): "Black Blade", "The Marshall Plan"
  • Fire Of Unknown Origin (1981): "Burnin' For You", "Veteran of the Psychic Wars"
  • The Revölution by Night (1983): "Take Me Away", "Shooting Shark"
  • Club Ninja (1986): "Dancin' In The Ruins", "Perfect Water"
  • Imaginos (1988): "Astronomy", "Blue Öyster Cult"
  • Cult Classic (1994) (Re-recordings of the group's concert standards)
  • Heaven Forbid (1998): "Harvest Moon", "See You In Black"
  • Curse of the Forbidden Mirror (2001): "Pocket", "Dance On Stilts"

Live albums;

  • On Your Feet Or On Your Knees (1975)
  • Some Enchanted Evening (1978)
  • Extraterrestrial Live (1982)
  • Live 1976 (European import, 1994)
  • A Long Day's Night (2002)

Blue Öyster Cult provides examples of the following tropes:
  • Album Title Drop: The album Agents of Fortune is named after a lyric from the included song, E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence).
  • Anachronic Order: Imaginos is not presented according to the internal chronology of the album's storyline due to Executive Meddling. The album's story, which contains time travel, shapeshifting, the Cthulhu Mythos, and a number of other supernatural elements, would be confusing enough without the disjointed chronology; the meddling pushed it firmly into Mind Screw territory. A possible sequence of the album's events is presented under the Executive Meddling entry.
  • Ascended Fanboy: In 1974, John Shirley wrote the novel "Transmaniacon", deriving its title from a song on BOC's debut album. 20 years later, the band recruited him as their principal lyricist for "Heaven Forbid" and "Curse of the Forbidden Mirror".
  • Author Appeal: Joe Bouchard wrote a lot of songs about vampires.
    • Not sure if this counts, but the Radio Birdman album Radios Appear is named after a lyric from BOC's Dominance and Submission.
  • Badass Beard: Bloom
  • Big Applesauce
  • Black Sheep Hit: "Don't Fear the Reaper", which is a lot softer and more melodic than their usual style.
    • All of the group's major radio hits - "Don't Fear the Reaper", "Burnin' For You", and "Godzilla" - were sung by Buck Dharma rather than regular lead singer Eric Bloom. One who picks up their albums after being introduced to them on the radio might be quite confused as to who this other singer is.
  • Cameo: Eric Bloom and Buck Dharma make a cameo appearance at the end of The Stoned Age (a movie where one of the main characters was a hardcore BOC fan), selling bootleg BOC merchandise.
    • Fun fact: originally all the Blue Öyster Cult references in the movie were going to be references to The Who. The band refused to allow their names or music to be featured in the movie due to its content (teenagers getting drunk and having sex) so all Who references became Blue Öyster Cult references, complete with the ending cameo.
  • Canon Discontinuity: As a result of being critical and commercial failures, The Revolution By Night and Club Ninja albums (though "Perfect Water" still made it onto the group's 2002 live release "A Long Day's Night".) Nothing from Imaginos EVER makes it into their live shows, though.
  • Catch Phrase: "On your feet... or on your knees! From New York City - the amazing BLUE OYSTER CULT!"
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The narrator of "Career of Evil"
  • Cosmic Horror: A favorite topic of the group, found in Les Invisibles, Harvest Moon, The Old Gods Return, and numerous other songs.
  • Concept Album: Imaginos.
    • And the whole thing was supposed to be an attempt at a Concept Band.
  • Continuity Nod: Some of the fossils on the Cultosaurus Erectus cover are mentioned as having been found in Oaxaca and the Stalk Forrest, which are names of two early versions of the band.
  • Cover Version: several on the live albums; their choices of covers give a pretty good idea of who their main influences were. On Your Feet Or On Your Knees includes the Yardbirds' "I Ain't Got You", while Some Enchanted Evening features the Animals' "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place" and the MC5' "Kick Out The Jams", while Extraterrestrial Live features a cover of "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors, with Robbie Krieger himself guesting on guitar. "St. Cecilia", the group's unreleased album as the Stalk-Forrest Group, included a cover of Bobby Freeman's "Betty Lou Got A New Pair Of Shoes".
  • Deal with the Devil: The live version of "7 Screaming Diz-Busters" includes an interlude where Eric Bloom describes how a slick-looking man in a shark-skin suit gave him a contract to sign in blood, and the very next day CBS Records called him up to offer the band a record deal.
  • Development Hell: Sandy Pearlman wrote the bulk of Imaginos before he even met the future members of BOC. It was initially to be released immediately after Secret Treaties, but it kept getting pushed back due to Creative Differences. After Albert Bouchard quit the band in 1982, he recorded it himself with the intent of releasing it as a solo album, but CBS Records balked and insisted it be billed as a BOC album - leaving it in limbo for another six years until it was released with vocal overdubs from Buck and Eric and a massive number of session musicians billed as "The Guitar Orchestra of the State of Imaginos" - including two songs with lead vocals by non-members - one, the title track, featuring songwriter Jon Rogers, and another by Joe Cerisano, a session vocalist best known for recording KFC jingles and singing lead on "Hands Across America". And on top of all that, the published album had the tracks out of order.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: The Trope Namer.
  • Downer Ending: "Veteran of the Psychic Wars", where the protagonist lies spent and defeated as he receives the news of victory.
  • Dragon Lady: Their song provides the page quote.
  • Dungeonmaster's Girlfriend: Allen Lanier's girlfriend, Patti Smith (who later achieved fame as a solo artist) wrote several songs for the group's early albums and provided backing vocals on Agents of Fortune.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: St. Cecilia and Blue Oyster Cult are mostly country music with a few heavy metal songs mixed in.
  • Epic Rocking: Especially prominent on Tyranny and Mutation
    • The live On Your Feet or On Your Knees has extended versions of several songs. Live 1976 has a version of "Buck's Boogie" that exceeds nineteen minutes in length, and a version of "This Ain't the Summer of Love" (which was a case of Miniscule Rocking on the original album, being barely over two minutes) that extends to almost twelve.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Cultosaurus Erectus
  • Evil Laugh: Stormbringer at the end of "Black Blade."
  • Executive Meddling: The reason Imaginos was released in abridged format (the band wanted to release at least two CDs' worth of material) and out of order. The internal chronology of the tracks is not exactly clear, but one suggestion is:

1. Les Invisibles
2. Imaginos
3. Del Rio's Song
4. Blue Öyster Cult
5. Astronomy
6. I Am the One You Warned Me Of
7. In the Presence of Another World
8. The Siege and Investiture of Baron von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria
9. Magna of Illusion

  • Fan Nickname: Fans started to refer to the band as "Two Oyster Cult" when Bloom and Roeser were the only original members left in the band. Sardonic British rock journo Tony Tyler witnessed the band's Five Guitars setpiece during a London gig. Writing for the NME, he contrasted the size of the guitars against the generally medium height of the band members and labelled them the Five Dwarves Of Heavy Metal.
  • Foot Focus: A sardonic example in "She's as Beautiful as a Foot".
  • Gratuitous Japanese: The intermission of "Godzilla" has a Japanese newscaster talking about the beast's rampage in Tokyo and alerting listeners to run for shelter immediately. During live shows, Eric Bloom recites this part.
  • Greatest Hits Album: 1998's Blue Öyster Cult: Super Hits
    • The earlier Workshop of the Telescopes compilation.
    • Cult Classic is an unusual example; rather than just collecting the group's best songs, they went back into the studio and re-recorded them from scratch.
  • Heävy Mëtal Ümlauts: The Trope Maker, and possibly the Ur Example.
  • Heavy Meta: Cities on Flame with Rock'n'Roll, R.U.Ready To Rock, "Before the Kiss, a Redcap", and The Marshall Plan (which includes a spoken word interlude by Don Kirschner). They also did a cover of Kick Out the Jams, and in a way Heavy Metal: The Black and Silver counts as well.
  • Heavy Mithril: Michael Moorcock wrote several songs for the group in the early '80s, including Black Blade, a heavy metal summary of The Elric Saga.
    • As mentioned above, much of "Fire of Unknown Origin" was written with the intent of being a soundtrack for the film Heavy Metal. The song "Vengeance {The Pact)" is explicitly based on Taarna's story.
    • "The Golden Age of Leather", an operatic piece about a gang of bikers who ride out into the desert and fight to the death after an all-night orgy and meth party, because they've realized they've grown too old to rock anymore.
    • "X-Ray Eyes" is based on the film "The Man With The X-Ray Eyes", and name-drops Ray Milland in the lyrics.
    • "Nosferatu" summarizes the plot of the classic silent film of that name.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The eponymous Imaginos.
  • Iconic Logo: The band's "hooked cross" logo, which appears on all their album covers and most of their merchandise, derived from the alchemical symbol for Saturn. It's also the symbol for lead - a heavy metal.
  • Instrumentals: Not on record, but a concert staple of the original lineup was a jam section where Lanier and Albert Bouchard would don guitars, resulting in a five-man guitar solo. This most commonly occurred during "ME 262", but also sometimes on "Golden Age of Leather" or a cover of The Doors' "The Wasp (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)".
  • Kaiju: Take a wild guess...
  • Last of His Kind: "Sole Survivor".
  • Listeners Are Geniuses: Piecing together the Myth Arc (see below) requires paying attention to the subtlest allusions in the lyrics.
    • Sandy Pearlman actually described them as "The thinking man's heavy metal band."
      • A lot of people called them that. This reputation is why they were critical darlings at a time when if a critic referred to any other band as playing heavy metal, it was intended as an insult.
  • Long Title: "The Siege and Investiture of Baron Von Frankenstein's Castle at Weisseria"
  • Looped Lyrics: "Seven seven seven" ad nauseam on "Les Invisibles" from Imaginos
  • Lucky Charms Title: The fancy "Ö".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "Harvester of Eyes", a bouncy, cheery song about...well, someone/something that kills people and takes their eyes. Sandy Pearlman claimed he came up with the idea after hearing Supreme Court justice Abe Fortas talk about his ocular tuberculosis during his confirmation hearings.
    • A common trope with this band, given that so many of their lyrics are dark, and often in a tongue-in-cheek way. "Hot Rails to Hell" is another good Exactly What It Says on the Tin example - an up-tempo tune with surf guitar riffs and peppy vocals... about riding a subway train into Damnation.
    • Also the Buck Dharma solo track "All Tied Up", a sweet ballad with Eagles-ish vocal harmonies. It turns out that the subject of the song is not tied up as in busy, but as in Exactly What...oh, you know the drill by now.
    • "Mistress of the Salmon Salt" drops some very dark lyrics in a tone so casual that it sounds like a garden tour. Which it actually is, but regular gardens don't use the type of fertilizer that the narrator is freely referring to.
    • And of course "Golden Age of Leather" marries West Coast harmonies, surfer music and Beach Boys-style singing to the dark topic of old Hell's Angels going out with one last gang-bang of a wanton child, too dead to care, that each could find his pleasure as he might..." followed by a pitched battle to the death.
  • The Men in Black: Since so many of their songs are sci-fi oriented, this was bound to show up at least once. Most notable in the songs Take Me Away (even featured in its music video) and "E.T.I."
  • The Muse: A whole cycle of songs are about, or feature, a girl called Suzie who appears to have had a potent effect on the songwriter's life. If Suzie was for real, then her depiction in The Marshall Plan as feckless groupie, or in Dominance and Submission as an accomplice to man-on-man rape, becomes an example of Muse Abuse.
  • Myth Arc: Most of their lyrics are part of a Lovecraftian Fiction-oriented mythology created by Sandy Pearlman, even those that don't appear to be at first glance.
  • New Media Are Evil: The laser-light shows the band used in their late '70s shows were the subject of a Congressional hearing into the potential health hazards of lasers.
  • New Sound Album: "Mirrors" was almost pop-rock relative to the group's earlier albums, with the sentimental guitar ballad "In Thee" as its lead single, and the Cars-inspired "You're Not The One I Was Looking For". It didn't gel, and the band returned to heavy metal for "Cultosaurus Erectus".
  • No Ending: Employed on "Flaming Telepaths"
    • and the joke's on you...and the joke's on you...and the joke's on you...and the jo-
  • Perspective Flip: Transmaniacon MC tells the story of the infamous Altamont Free Concert from the perspective of the Hell's Angels; Workshop of the Telescopes the rise of modern of science from the point-of-view of an astrologer (whose discipline was discredited); ME 262 is about the end of World War Two as perceived by a German fighter ace; and Joan Crawford is partially Mommy Dearest as perceived by a zombified incarnation of the title actress.
  • Obligatory Bondage Song: "Dominance and Submission".
  • Our Vampires Are Different: "Tattoo Vampire".
  • Protest Song: "Divine Wind", a song attacking Ayatollah Khomeini during the hostage crisis.
    • And it still worked for Bin Laden after 9/11
  • Refuge in Audacity: There were so many hints of evil in their lyrics and Nazi images on their album covers that some writers began to suggest that they really were Nazis. This despite names like "Pearlman", "Bloom" and "Roeser" suggesting the sort of ethnicity that would be last to line up in support of the Nazis. Michael Moorcock describes them as a bunch of nice Jewish boys from upstate New York.
  • Repurposed Pop Song: Shiny Toy Guns did a cover of "Burnin' For You" for a commercial for the 2010 Lincoln MKS.
  • Rock Opera: Imaginos, a fragment of the above Myth Arc, tells the story of a 19th century adventurer imbued with magic powers by aliens, and whose efforts prove to be the cause of World War I.
  • Rockstar Song: "The Marshall Plan"
  • Shout-Out: The opening of "Burnin' For You" is an allusion to Jack Kerouac.
    • Both E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) and The Old Gods Return refer to the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • Stage Names: Sandy Pearlman envisioned the band having stage names and wrote some up, but Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser was the only taker.
  • That's All Folks: "Shooting Shark" ends with, "First time round is the last time round; I have nothing else to say."
  • Trans-Atlantic Equivalent: The band's style, lyrical content and preceived preoccupations were equated to those of Birmingham's most notorious Satanists, Black Sabbath. Aware that musical critics were directly comparing both bands, their managements bundled them together on a joint tour, dubbed The Black And Blue Tour. It was never repeated. After the BOC started to record Michael Moorcock songs, they attracted the label from British fans of America's Hawkwind. Indeed, the live version of the Moorcock-penned Veteran of the Psychic Wars has an eerie Hawkwind-like quality to it.
  • Villain Protagonist: the setup for "Last Days of May" is a cross-border drug transaction.
    • The title character of "Dr. Music" is a sadist who gets off by torturing his unwilling captives.
    • "Showtime" is about a convict who's counting down the days until his release so he can hunt down and get revenge on his girlfriend who put him away and the man she's now with.
  • Villain Song: Several, see Perspective Flip and Lyrical Dissonance above, but "Career of Evil" could easily be the poster-song for the trope.
  • Word Salad Lyrics: Lots of them.