Dover-bound Blue Oyster Cult’s Bloom talks band’s history, cowbell and more

Blue Oyster Cult, which has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide throughout its long history, will perform at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino’s Rollins Center on Friday, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m. Tickets can be purchased by visiting doverdowns.com. (Submitted photo)

DOVER — Let’s get one thing out of the way right now. Stop with your cowbell references. Eric Bloom has it heard all before.

Mr. Bloom, one of the original lead singers and guitarists for the seminal rock band Blue Oyster Cult, says the legendary “Saturday Night Live” skit depicting the recording session of the band’s hit “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper” and producer Bruce Dickinson’s pleas of “More cowbell” has become a mixed bag for the band.

“In general it’s been a good thing. But people thinking they are very clever will come up to you and say ‘How about more cowbell?’” said Mr. Bloom by phone from his home in Long Island, New York Tuesday afternoon.

“So in that sense, it’s become a bit of an albatross. There will be a Facebook thread on our page about a song or something and right in the middle, someone will write ‘More cowbell.’ It’s as if I never heard it before.

“But it’s become part of Americana. It’s one of the 50 top “Saturday Night Live” skits of all-time. About a year ago, I was reading Autoweek magazine and they were talking about a certain car’s transmission and engine. And then the article said ‘But what this car really needs is more cowbell.’ I just thought this has really crossed the line now.”

Blue Oyster Cult will perform at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino’s Rollins Center on Friday, Sept. 7 at 9 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased by visiting doverdowns.com. Prices range from $30 to $50.

Along with “Reaper,” the band’s top singles include “Godzilla,” “Burnin’ For You,” “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Then Came the Last Days of May,” and “I Love the Night.”

Along with Mr. Bloom the band includes original member Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser (vocalist/lead guitarist) as well as longtime members Richie Castellano (guitar/keyboards), Danny Miranda (bass guitarist) and Jules Radino (drummer).

Formed in 1967 as Soft White Underbelly, Mr. Bloom joined the band in 1969.

“I played music in college during the ’60s. I was in a lot of bar bands and did frat parties for fun on a semi-professional basis. I gave that up after a while,” he said.

Blue Oyster Cult is known for such songs as “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper,” “Godzilla,” “Burnin’ For You,” “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” “Then Came the Last Days of May” and “I Love the Night.” (Submitted photo)

“I was thinking that the business side was more to my liking. So I moved to New York City (from upstate New York) to get a job at a booking agency but that fell through. Through a series of coincidences I got a job (as a sound man) working for what later became BOC and was then Soft White Underbelly and I moved into the band house.

“Through another series of chaotic events, (former band member) Allen Lanier heard some old tapes of me singing. They were having some personality difficulties with their lead singer at the time and they asked me if I would like the job and I took it. That was in April of 1969 so almost 50 years ago now.”

Did he ever imagine that he’d still be in the band in 2018?

“You never know the twists and turns of life and what’s going to happen or if you’re even going to live that long. Nobody has the forethought to even imagine such a thing,” he said.

The name of the band was changed to Blue Oyster Cult in 1971 from a poem written by then-manager Sandy Pearlman.

“It was part of his ‘Imaginos’ poetry, which was almost Homeric in nature. We later used it as lyrics on our (1988) album “Imaginos,” he said.

The name took a while for members to get used to.

“We had a huge list of different names we were going to change it to, about 20,” he said. “We had an audition for (record producer) Clive Davis and we still couldn’t decide on a name. You have five guys in band, getting even two of them to agree on anything is difficult.

“So we just told Sandy and his partner Murray Krugman to go away and pick whatever they wanted. They came back with Blue Oyster Cult and we all looked at each other and thought ‘What the hell? That’s the name?’ I had heard of other bands with the ‘blue’ in them like Blues Image but Blue Oyster Cult? But we went with it.”’

Mr. Pearlman was integral as the band’s manager, producer and lyricist throughout their career. He died in 2016 at the age of 72.

“There would be no band without him. Plus he wrote a lot of our early lyrics on stuff like ‘Astronomy’ and ‘Extra Terrestrial Intelligence,” he said.

“He’s also responsible for ‘Transmaniacon MC,’ which makes reference to the biker gangs at Altamont. We use that as one of our opening songs so his spirit lives on.”

BOC has been called the “thinking man’s rock ‘n’ roll band” with many of its lyrics making reference to science fiction and famous literature. Mr. Bloom says he hopes that has caused fans over the years to read a bit more.

“If people check out some of the authors and connect with them, that’s a good thing,” he said.

“If somebody reads a John Shirley book or Michael Moorcock because they have written lyrics for us, that’s great.”

Mr. Bloom, a longtime science fiction fan, starts every BOC show with the theme from the hit HBO program “Game of Thrones.”

“If they recognize it, fine. If not, that’s OK too,” he said.

These days, BOC does about 75 shows a year in the U.S. and Europe.

“We’re all involved in other things as well. Plus Buck and I are both over 70, so that’s about as much as we want to do these days,” said the 73-year-old Mr. Bloom.

He said the biggest drawback is the travel.

“(Monday) I was in London, Ontario, which involved getting up at 4:30 a.m. for a two-hour ride to the airport at 5:30 a.m. and then a flight back to New York and then you have to go through customs. So it can pretty draining. But doing the actual concerts are always pretty good,” he said.

The night after the band plays in Dover, they have a concert in California.

Blue Oyster Cult, who hope to put out a new album in 2019, performs to a couple of generations of family members now.

“We’ll get the original fans from back in the day and they’ll bring their children who might have seen a video of us and be discovering us for the first time,” he said.

“There are no new bands out there who do what we do. If they like guitar-centric bands, there is nothing like that now. They can listen to Deep Purple or Kansas and that’s about it for the hard-driving guitar bands.”

He says BOC also has gotten notice from the younger set because of a certain video game.

“We played a show once and there were mostly younger people in the audience and we were playing (the 1972 song) “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll” and they were going nuts,” he recalled.

“And I’m thinking ‘How do they know this?’ I come to find out later it’s on Guitar Hero. So I guess that helps keep us current,” he said with a laugh.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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