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The History of the Amazing

Blue ÷yster Cult




Note: The following is taken mostly from liner notes written by Arthur Levy in the "Career of Evil" album, portions of which also appeared in BOC tour programs and press kits. Additional information appears in [brackets]. Some of the history, and pre-history (which appears in the next section) information was taken from the liner notes to a German import compilation CD
(Editor's note: Thanks to Andy Gilham for translating the German to English for me.).

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In the early 1970's, in the utter chaos of an embattled America cast adrift by the fires that plagued it for a decade, there arose a rock band whose destiny was no less than to bring ultimate meaning to the concept of heavy metal. When Blue Oyster Cult played, it was the sound of monsters in the hills. The wind carried the band's unknown tongues across continents until it felt as if earth's very crust could tear away.

The agents of fortune responsible for this rage of heavy-metal thunder were a shadowy quintet, indeed. Their primal rumblings were first heard in the late 1960's, in the band known as Soft White Underbelly, which evolved into the Stalk-Forrest Group as an antidote to that era's "success-rock" syndrome. The dusty nightmare of Altamont settled into rock's fabric, and a thoroughly professional band emerged from the SWU/SFG heiarchy.

As Blue Oyster Cult then, a familiar lineup would remain unchanged for a dozen years: leather-clad Eric Bloom (vocals, guitar) leering at audiences behind silver-mirrored shades; white-suited Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser (lead guitar, vocals) attaining pyrotechnic levels that earned him Top-10 honors in rock-guitar polls; menacingly frail, pale Allen Lanier (keyboards, guitar, vocals), longtime companion to poetess Patti Smith, lurking near the fringes of BOC's pulse; and Long Island brothers Albert Bouchard (drums, vocals) and Joe Bouchard (bass, vocals), drifting effortlessly from pile-driving, bottom-end work to more exotic rhythms with enviable finesse. High above them all hung the ominous BOC banner, ancient symbol of Kronos (Saturn) in white on a field of black. [An interesting note is that Eric Bloom, according to the liner notes written by Volker Koerdt on the German import BOC CD, *The Reaper - Best*, stated that it was difficult to find his leather gear in those days -- "You couldn't get that stuff in those days, I had to buy it in gay stores or sex shops."]

{ (the first LP's) striking cover, by artist Bill Gawlick, yielded the band another treasure: The famed hook-and-cross ďKronosĒ Logo. Believed to be styled after the astronomical symbol for Saturn, Gawlick gave the symbol a prominent position on the artwork for the album cover. Its metaphysical, alchemical and mythological connotations, combined with its similarity to some religious symbols gave it a flair of decadence and mystery - perfect for rock and roll, and perfect for the kind of music that Blue ÷yster Cult was creating. It was adopted as the bandís logo immediately upon seeing the artwork, and legions of fans have paid tribute to it and the band it represents by inking it on everything from walls and rocks to wet concrete and their own bodies. }

{ From The B÷C Official Site }

The indispensable sixth member of this American rock 'n' roll cabal was Sandy Pearlman. As producer, songwriter, and manager of BOC, Pearlman's knowledge of history and philosophy have enjoyed free reign for nearly 20 years. His production credits grew to include The Clash, Dream Syndicate, and Dictators. As one of the acknowledged founders of modern rock criticism (with Richard Meltzer, Paul Williams, and Jon Landau), he was the first to apply the term "heavy metal" to the music at hand. And as eternal student and teacher, his quest for true cosmic enlightenment is forever.

BOC drew upon its collective talent as composers and musicians for the aptly titled debut album on Columbia, *Blue Oyster Cult* (released January, 1972), produced by Pearlman and Murray Krugman, a Columbia A&R executive. This team (with engineer David Lucas) would stay together through BOC's first seven years and as many LPs. The songwriting pattern was also set, a fusion of terror and madness, wit and irony, pop culture, social psychology, science, mythology, intellectual calisthenics, gutter outrage -- tactical directions that remained constant.

A discernible popular following took hold as American rockers accepted BOC at a level previously reserved for U.K. bands only. In order to whet the appetites of these enlightened ones, a limited edition "Live Bootleg" 12-inch EP was circulated by the label. Since its release in October, 1972, this cherished item has become the Maltese Falcon of heavy metal collectibles. [Note: This recording is known under several names (see discography), and, while not widely circulated, is available as an import.]

Over the next three years, BOC steadily ascended to headlining status, notwithstanding the absence of a Top-40 single or million- selling gold LP sales, just "Cult Power" (bolstered by rock critic establishment endorsements in the press and on the FM airwaves) and sheer musical depth. The LPs reflected this: *Tyranny And Mutation* (February, 1973) and *Secret Treaties* (April, 1974) both reinforced and exaggerated BOC's many obsessions, just as the band's public image threatened to overtake its existential reality. They bought some breathing space with the release of their first live album, the double LP, *On Your Feet Or On Your Knees* (February, 1975). The album contained live performances of songs off the first three albums, plus "Buck's Boogie", "Maserati GT" (Pearlman's dream car, or a re-working of the Yardbirds' "I Ain't Got You") and Steppenwolf's elegy to the summer of love, "Born To Be Wild" -- in which Eric and Donald's Texas chainsaw guitar duel attains brain-shattering modulation. ===

The inevitable commercial breakthrough took place with the next two LPs, which presented more individual contributions by the members of the band: the RIAA platinum *Agents Of Fortune* (May, 1976), with the Top- 10 [editor's note: it reached #12 actually] hit "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" (later quoted by Stephen King in *The Stand*); and *Spectres* (November, 1977), whose "Godzilla" set off another explosion, especially in Japan, where BOC was greeted as a messenger of the gods, not unlike "Godjira" itself. This phase of BOC's career culminated in a second live album: *Some Enchanted Evening* (September, 1978) "made up for" the various sins of omission/commission on *On Your Feet Or On Your Knees*, while it also capitalized on having played more than 250 shows before a half-million people since *Spectres* was issued.

In 1976, on the *Agents Of Fortune* tour, BOC also unleashed a new dimension in staging as they joined forces with one of the country's most advanced optical physics laboratories and developed the sophisticated and powerful (hence, controversial) laser light shows in rock, at a cost of $200,000. Upon the release of *Spectres*, an even more advanced laser presentation was unveiled at twice the cost, with twice the power. [Due to the controversy surrounding BOC laser shows (there were rumors that the lasers caused some people to go blind, and certain groups claimed that BOC must be evil to do such dangerous things at their shows), some venues would not allow their use. BOC later abandoned the use of lasers at their shows, citing cost and a desire to get "back to basics".]

BOC's excursion out of the 1970's and into the 1980's unfolded over the course of its next three studio LPs. On *Mirrors* (June, 1979), BOC's first California recording, Pearlman and Krugman relinquished production to Tom Werman, a CBS staff producer (Cheap Trick and Ted Nugent, later Motley Crue). *Cultosaurus Erectus* (June, 1980), produced by Martin Birch (of Black Sabbath/DeepPurple/Whitesnake renown) included "Black Blade", a collaboration with British fiction/fantasy novelist Michael Moorcock. But it took *Fire Of Unknown Origin* (June, 1981), again produced by Birch, to bring BOC into the new video/Top-40 generation, with "Burnin' For You" and the controversial "Joan Crawford".

BOC's third (and most likely final) live LP [like *On Your Feet Or On Your Knees*, a double LP] was the result of four months of recording and painstaking track selection. *Extraterrestrial Live* (April, 1982) became the standard by which BOC would be measured on stage.

[It was also during this timeframe (August of 1981, to be more precise) that the first change of personnel in the band occurred. Albert Bouchard, the band's original drummer, apparently failed to show up on time for a show in Norfolk, England. Rick Downey, one of the members of BOC's road crew, happened to be a capable drummer himself, and was asked to play in Albert's absence. Albert arrived after the band had played five songs, and finished the show. Two days later, a very similar situation occurred, with Albert arriving late to the show, and Rick playing the first five songs in his absence. After this, Albert left the band, which was presumably only a "leave of absence" resolve some personal issues. Rick Downey continued to fill in as BOC's drummer, and was made the permanent drummer about a year after Albert left. Most of the songs on *Extraterrestrial Live* feature Rick Downey's drumming. However, two songs on the album feature Albert Bouchard on the drums -- Albert is credited as playing on "Dominance and Submission", and "Black Blade" (the recordings used of those two songs were made prior to Albert's leaving BOC). In addition, Albert Bouchard's likeness (along with Rick Downey and the rest of BOC) is pictured on the back of the album.]

A year of minimum performances, maximum rehearsals and recording, and some unexpected personnel changes [i.e. Albert Bouchard] resulted in the release of *The Revolution By Night* (October, 1983). The LP was produced by Bruce Fairbairn (who worked with Loverboy since its inception, and went on to produce Bon Jovi). [In January of 1985, Rick Downey (upset that BOC wanted to use a different drummer in the studio for their next album) quit the band (After leaving BOC, he became the lighting designer for Utopia and Motley Crue, then tour manager for The Outfield and Anthrax, before returning in 1994 to be lighting designer and tour manager for BOC). As BOC had a 2 week tour of California in February, and no drummer, the band asked Albert Bouchard to fill in. However, Albert was only hired as a temporary replacement, much to the dismay of those who thought that the original line-up would be restored. Also, half-way through this 2 week tour in California, Allen Lanier also quit the band, presumably due to artistic differences with the band (he reportedly did not like the new BOC sound, or the use of so many writers outside the band). For the final week of the tour, BOC manager Steve Schenck filled in on keyboards. On recommendation from Rick Derringer, Jimmy Wilcox became BOC's new drummer (although Billy Idol drummer Thommy Price was to provide some drum work in the studio for the next album). In addition, Tommy Zvoncheck was brought in to handle the keyboards. With 3 of the original 5 band members remaining when the band resumed touring in April of 1985, band insiders often referred to them as "3OC".]

[These] further personnel changes [i.e. Rick Downey and Allen Lanier] were evident on *Club Ninja* (January 1986), BOC's first new album in 27 months, as Pearlman returned to produce his first LP with the band in nine years. Its title is derived from the song "Shadow Warrior" (literal translation of the Japanese ninja), which contained a lyric by best-selling novelist Eric Van Lustbader, author of *The Ninja*. [After a returning to the U.S. in February of 1986 from the European leg of the *Club Ninja* tour (where nearly everyone on the tour got sick), bassist Joe Bouchard left the band for personal reasons. On recommendation from Tommy Zvoncheck, Jon Rogers became the new bassist (having only a week to learn the songs). With only Eric and Buck remaining of the original lineup, band insiders often referred to them as "Two Oyster Cult".]

[In September of 1986, after the *Club Ninja* tour was over, the band, according to singer Eric Bloom, "semi-officially broke up". However, the break was short-lived, as Allen Lanier rejoined Eric and Buck (returning the band to "3OC"). According to Buck, "We re-formed because we had an offer to go to Greece. Then we ended up playing some shows in Germany and just sort of fell back into it to make a living. "On Buck's recommendation, Ron Riddle became BOC's drummer when they resumed touring in July of 1987 (beginning in Greece). During this timeframe, the *Imaginos* (July 1988) album was finished and released, but more details of that album appear in another part of this FAQ.]

[In May of 1991, drummer Ron Riddle left the band (and joined the Stuart Hamm Band), and was replaced by Chuck Burgi (who had played as a session drummer for Meatloaf, Rainbow, and other bands; and had played in the Eric Bloom band with Eric, Dennis Feldman of Heaven, and Bob Kulick of Meatloaf -- this band played a few shows in the New York area in 1987, and became known as Skull after Eric left the band). In 1992, Chuck Burgi took some "time off" to record a Japan-only release CD with ex-Rainbow keyboardist David Rosenthal -- John Miceli, drummer for Meatloaf, filled in for him (he had only one day to rehearse with the band).

Since 1988, Blue Oyster Cult has toured off and on (mostly on), usually in smaller concert venues than they had been accustomed to during the peak years of their popularity (roughly 1975 - 1983). In 1990, CBS released two compilation albums, *Career of Evil - The Metal Years*, and *On Flame With Rock And Roll*. Also, BOC appeared on the soundtrack to the 1992 science fiction movie, *Bad Channels* -- the album includes two new BOC tunes ("Demon's Kiss" and "When Horsemen Arrive"), along with a myriad of instrumental pieces (created by Buck Dharma using his guitars and Macintosh computer) that were used for the score of the movie.

In 1994, the band released *Cult Classic* on Herald records. This album came about due to interest in the band by horror writer Stephen King, who wanted to use "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" as part of the soundtrack in the TV Mini-Series adaptation of his novel, *The Stand*. Due to contractual issues between CBS and the band (CBS owned the footage rights to BOC's music), BOC got a "one-off" deal from Herald records to re-do the songs (Herald had a similar arrangement with Rick Wakeman, formerly of Yes).

In May of 1995, bassist Jon Rogers left the band to pursue a career with a new band. He was temporarily replaced by Greg Smith, who has previously worked with Alice Cooper, Ritchie Blackmore, Vinnie Moore, and the Plasmatics. Greg came on recommendation from Chuck Burgi, who had worked with Greg on David Rosenthal's album. In August of 1995, Greg left the band to support tours with Alice Cooper and Ritchie Blackmore. Based on recommendations from Greg Smith and John Miceli, Danny Miranda (b. 21 March, 1964), from Long Island, New York, became the new bassist for BOC.

In September of 1995, drummer Chuck Burgi left the band to work with Greg Smith in Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow. Chuck was replaced by former Rainbow drummer John O'Reilly, but returned in October of 1996. During John O'Reilly's tenure with BOC, both John Miceli and Rainbow drummer Bobby Rondinelli (who has also played with Black Sabbath) filled in for John O'Reilly on a few occasions. John Miceli also filled in for Chuck Burgi for a few dates in late 1996 and early 1997, and was replaced by BOC's current drummer, Bobby Rondinelli (b. 27 July, 1955), in February of 1997. Chuck Burgi would go on to become the drummer for Enrique Iglesias, although he also filled in for Bobby Rondinelli for a few shows in 1999 (so that Bobby could be part of a Cozy Powell tribute).

Also in September of 1995, CBS-Sony released a double CD titled, *Workshop Of The Telescopes*, a compilation of BOC's greatest hits with some previously unreleased versions of BOC tracks. CMC International Records released the *Summerdaze* album in conjunction with 1997 summer tour BOC did with Foghat, Pat Travers, and Steppenwolf. This album featured 2 live BOC tracks plus a new studio track ("Power Underneath Despair").

In March of 1998, CMC International Records released the long- awaited new BOC album, *Heaven Forbid*. This album had been delayed for a number of years due to difficulties in securing a proper business deal between the band and a recording label. In December of 1998, Allen Lanier took some "time off" from the band, returning in March of 1999. In his absence, keyboards and additional guitar was handled for a few shows by Kasim Sulton, former bassist for Utopia, and keyboardist for Meatloaf. This only lasted for a few shows, however, as Kasim had a prior commitment with Meatloaf (Note: Kasim was being considered in 1995 when BOC needed a bassist as well). From late January until early March of 1999, Allen's parts were handled by Al Pitrelli, guitarist for Savatage. Allen returned to the band in March of 1999. Also in May of 1999, former drummer Chuck Burgi returned to play a few shows with the band, although Bobby Rondinelli continues to be BOC's current drummer.

Based mostly on the strength of sales of *Heaven Forbid*, CMC International agreed to release an additional BOC album, in the year 2001. This album, *Curse Of The Hidden Mirror*, was released in June of 2001. 2001 also saw the release of *St. Cecilia: The Elektra Recordings* by Rhino Handmade. This release contains 18 recordings made by the band in 1969 and 1970 when it was known as the "Stalk-Forrest Group". Also in 2001, Sony Legacy reissued BOC's first four studio albums (*Blue Oyster Cult*, *Tyranny And Mutation*, *Secret Treaties*, and *Agents Of Fortune*) on CD with bonus tracks (demos, outtakes, and live cuts). The rest of BOC's catalog on Sony is expected to be reissued in a similar fashion in the future.

And what of the Bouchard Brothers - the original drummer (Albert) and bassist (Joe) for BOC? After his departure from BOC, Albert spent a lot of time working on a solo album (to be titled, *Imaginos*), along with Sandy Pearlman (also a driving conceptual force behind BOC), who was still managing BOC. Eventually, *Imaginos* was released in 1988. However, due to problems with CBS records, the album was released as a BOC album, with many of the tracks re-worked, against Albert's wishes. More on the recording of *Imaginos* appears in another part of this FAQ. In addition, Albert had hoped that he would be able re-join the band's original line-up. This however, was not to be. As previously mentioned, Albert was asked to fill in for a two-week tour of California in early 1985 when BOC was in-between drummers (Rick Downey and Jimmy Wilcox). He agreed, hoping to patch things up with the band. However, they made it clear to him that he was merely a temporary hired hand, and his "final" performance with BOC was in February 1985.

After Joe Bouchard left BOC, he and Albert both played with the Spencer Davis Group (Joe on keyboards, Albert on drums). After that, they formed "The Bouchard Brothers", but due to artistic differences, Albert left that band before their first show - Joe continued with the band under the name, "The Cult Brothers". For this band, Joe played mostly keyboards and guitar, and singing lead. Also in this band was Billy Hilfiger on guitar, Andy Hilfiger on bass, and Jimmy Cacala on drums. They played a number of BOC covers, plus some original songs. Also, the Cult Brothers played as a Doors tribute band, Crystal Ship, with a different lead vocalist (Joe Tag) on several occasions. The original material created by the Cult Brothers was released on CD in 1997 (*Joe Bouchard Presents the X Brothers: Solid Citizens*) on the "Cellsum" record label (see next paragraph).

Albert in his post-BOC days also played with Helen Wheels (who dated Albert in the 1960's, and provided lyrics for several BOC songs), David Roter, Richie Stotts (former guitarist for The Plasmatics) and a band called "Imaginary Playmates" that he formed with his wife, Deborah Frost. This project would later become their current band, "The Brain Surgeons". A drummer herself, formerly of the 1970's all-girl band "Flaming Youth" (which inspired the KISS song of the same name), Deborah was better known as a rock journalist, writing for such publications as The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, Creem, Spin, and Musician, to name a few. Also in The Brain Surgeons is guitarist Billy Hilfiger (who played in King's Flux, as well as with Albert for Helen Wheels, and then The Cult Brothers), guitarist Peter Bohovesky (who's old band, Kablamachunk, had an album produced by Albert before breaking up), and bassist David Hirschberg. The Brain Surgeons released their first album, *Eponymous*, in early 1994 on their own independent label (Cellsum). The album was later released in October 1994 on the "Ripe and Ready" record label. They released their second album, *Trepanation*, in 1995 on the Cellsum label, and in 1996 by "Ripe and Ready". Their third album (*Box Of Hammers*) was released in 1996, their fourth album (*Malpractise*) was released in 1997, both on the Cellsum label - both of these albums were released by "Ripe and Ready" in 1998. Their fifth album (the double CD, *Piece Of Work*) was released on Cellsum/Ripe and Ready in 1999. In 2000, the band toured as a three piece - Albert, Deborah and David.

The year 2000 also saw a brief musical reunion of BOC's Buck Dharma and the Bouchard brothers. After BOC lyricist Helen Wheels passed away in 2000, Albert organized a tribute CD to her, with many of Helen's past musical friends recording renditions of some of her existing and unreleased songs. Among the musical guests included Buck Dharma (and his wife Sandy Roeser), Albert Bouchard (and his wife Deborah Frost), and Joe Bouchard. The album, *To Helen With Love*, was released in June of 2001. Also, in September of 2001, Brain Surgeons and X Brothers guitarist Billy Hilfiger passed away. A tribute concert was held in New York on 10/08/01, which included musical participation from Buck Dharma and the Bouchard brothers, playing together onstage for the first time since 1985. Buck and the Bouchards would appear together again on stage on 12/04/01 in New York for a tribute concert to Helen Wheels.]

Blue Oyster Cult made choices many years before, and their decision stands: to face the real politics of rock survival in a nightly stand of metallic force. In a world where science and nature are at war, and survival depends on the delicate balance of the natural and supernatural, BOC are more than just informed observers. They are served by forces that many cannot understand. Now the voices call in hunger: That is why we need them. It is why they are here.



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