The band’s origins and early career
The group Blue Öyster Cult hailed from Stony Brook College in Long Island, New York, in 1965. The band that would be Blue Öyster Cult was formed by student (and later rock critic) Sandy Pearlman. Having been christened as Soft White Underbelly, the lineup of the band consisted of Buck Dharma (guitars), Albert Bouchard (drums), Allen Lanier (keyboards), Les Braunstein (vocals) and Andrew Winters (bass).
With the help of their manager Pearlman, he and the band were able to secure some gigs and later signed to Elektra Records, where they recorded two albums that were never released. By then, Braunstein was replaced by the band’s former engineer Eric Bloom. The band had undergone a couple of names: Oaxaca and the Stalk-Forrest Group.
Some taste of chart success
When the band was finally let go by Elektra, they changed their name again into Blue Öyster Cult and signed with Columbia Records in late 1971. Around that time, Winters exited the group and was replaced by Joe Bouchard, Albert’s brother. The following year Blue Öyster Cult released their eponymous debut album on Columbia, reaching the lower regions of the Billboard 200. In 1973, Columbia released the band’s second album Tyranny and Mutation which reached #122 on the same chart.
Blue Öyster Cult released their third album Secret Treaties in 1974; it reached its peak position at #53 and would be their first album to break into the gold certification mark. It was followed by their first live album On Your Feet or On Your Knees, which would also be certified gold.
In 1976, the band released their fourth album Agents Of Fortune, which became their most successful album yet, going platinum. The album yielded a single titled “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” which broke into the Top 20 pop chart at #12. It also reached #16 on the UK singles chart. Agents of Fortune went to #29 on the Billboard 200 album chart.
The rock group’s next album was Spectres in 1977, which produced the FM radio hit “Godzilla.” The album became certified gold, although it wasn’t able to match the success achieved by Agents of Fortune.
The following year Blue Öyster Cult released their second live album Some Enchanted Evening. Although their first live album, 1975’s On Your Feet or On Your Knees, bettered Some Enchanted Evening on the charts, the latter nevertheless went on to become their second platinum seller, lifting two million units. After that, a sixth studio album Mirrors was released in 1979, yielding a minor hit single “In Thee.” Pearlman had already been absent to manage another metal rock group Black Sabbath, thus he didn’t appear on Mirrors.
Mirrors was followed by Cultosarus Erectus, another studio effort released in 1980; it went to #34 on the Billboard 200 and #12 on the UK album chart. It was followed by 1981’s Fire Of Unknown Origin, whose single “Burning For You” topped the mainstream rock chart and barely made it to the Top 40.
Another lineup change occurred in the band. Drummer Albert Bouchard was fired and was replaced by Rick Downey — 1983’s The Revolution by Night which spawned two Top 20 rock hits “Take Me Away” and “Shooting Shark.” After the album was released, Downey quit the band in 1984. In 1985 he was replaced by Jimmy Wilcox, while Lanier exited and Tommy Zvoncheck came to replace Lanier. The following year Blue Öyster Cult released their tenth studio album Club Ninja, which would be their last album to have a crack at the top 100 of the Billboard 200 album chart.
Lanier returned to the group in 1987, but their drum kit was vacant again as Wilcox left; he was to be replaced by Ron Riddle. In 1988 the group released a concept album Imaginos, which was also to be their last album with Columbia; its single “Astronomy” would become the group’s last charting single to date, peaking at #12 on the Billboard rock chart. After Imaginos, the band would release no fresh material for over a decade (until 1998’s Heaven Forbid was released).
During the long years without releasing any new material, Blue Öyster Cult toured much, and also provided the soundtrack for the 1992 motion picture Bad Channels. In 1994, the band released an album of re-hashed favorites titled Cult Classic. In 1998 the band signed to CMC (later Sanctuary) label and released their album of new material Heaven Forbid in 1998, and then Curse of the Hidden Mirror in 2001.
A series of re-issues followed, including Don’t Fear the Reaper: The Best of Oyster Cult in 2000 and Cult Classics (which is different from 1994’s Cult Classic) in 2001. The band’s latest re-issue album The Complete Columbia Album Collection appeared in 2012.