In the mid- to late '70s, Blue Öyster Cult was among the biggest bands in the musical stratosphere. Its records sold in the millions, and the band could claim three hit singles -- "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," "Burnin' for You," and "Godzilla." It was also a constant fixture on the still-fledgling MTV. The group went on to sell some 24 million albums, became a key operative in heavy-rock realms, and remained equally influential in the decades that followed.
BÖC's apocalyptic songs, sci-fi themes, and remarkably literate lyrics elevated it well beyond the standard sound of primal, mind-bending rock. Indeed, its list of highbrow collaborators included Patti Smith, poet Jim Carroll, and anti-establishment scribe Richard Meltzer.
"Critics labeled us 'the thinking man's metal band,' " singer and cofounder Eric Bloom recalls. "I don't know if that sticks, considering our biggest hit certainly isn't a 'heavy' tune. I've always thought of us as a hard rock band."
BÖC also found itself going down in the comedy canon as a source of late-night parody when Saturday Night Live featured a skit reimagining the recording session for "(Don't Fear) The Reaper," complete with an obsessed producer incessantly urging: "More cowbell!"
Bloom and the band's sole remaining other cofounder, guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, make their homes in Florida these days -- Bloom on the East Coast and Dharma on the West. (Bloom declines to specify cities.) The two met in a record store in 1968, and a short time later, Bloom was invited to join Roeser's Long Island-based band, Soft White Underbelly.
A negative review of a show at New York's Fillmore East prompted a series of name changes until they eventually settled on Blue Öyster Cult. Named for a poem written by their manager, Sandy Perlman, the tag was originally rejected but finally accepted in time for inclusion on their debut album.
The band's profile may have dipped in recent decades, but Bloom says they still tour consistently and perform around 60 shows a year.
"In the last two years, we went to Europe twice, Australia, and hit most of the USA," he mentions. "We recently played at the world's biggest musical instrument convention, the National Association of Musical Merchants, for Peavey Musical Instruments' 50th Anniversary. Our upcoming show in South Florida follows three performances on the Rock Legends III Cruise, so I think we'll be glad to be back on land."
Audiences have plenty to look forward to as well. "We'll perform the obvious songs, plus a sprinkling of deep tracks for the hard-core fans." So you needn't fear the reaper nor any slow moments.
Blue Öyster Cult. 8 p.m. Tuesday, February 24, at Lafayette's Music Room, 550 S. Rosemary Ave., West Palm Beach. Tickets cost $53.25 to $63.90. Call 561-420-8600, or visit ticketmaster.com.
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