The Soundtrack Of My Life
The Blue Öyster Cult frontman on the records, artists and gigs that are of lasting significance to him.
Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in the neighbouring borough of Queens, Eric Bloom became co-lead guitarist, frontman, keyboard player and songwriter with hard rockers Blue Öyster Cult in April 1969. Over the following half-century he has been an ever-present member of BÖC, performing on all 15 of their studio albums, including their 1976 now-classic hit (Don’t Fear) The Reaper.
THE FIRST MUSIC I REMEMBER HEARING
My earliest memories of music go back to listening to AM radio at home in New York. The first actual song I have recognition of is Elvis singing Heartbreak Hotel. I’m guessing it would have been in 1956 or 1957, and I was ten years old.
THE FIRST SONG I PERFORMED LIVE
It would have been something by one of the British invasion bands. My first band was in 1965, so it’s likely to have been You Really Got Me [by The Kinks] or I Saw Her Standing There [The Beatles].
BEST LIVE BAND
The original Alice Cooper group. We toured with Alice Cooper in 1972, and they were innovators in terms of clothing, lighting and presentation. Their show totally enthralled an audience.
THE GREATEST ALBUM OF ALL TIME
Are You Experienced by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. By mid-1967, Jimi had released several singles, and when his debut album came out everyone bought it. It took the world by storm. I’d also put the first albums by Cream and The Doors in the same category, but Are You Experienced just about wins.
Maybe he wasn’t the purest of vocalists, but for an overall rock’n’roll singer it can only be John Lennon. Some had better voices and others a superior style, but for me he could sing a rock song like nobody else.
THE GUITAR HERO
I’ve total respect for Jimi and his contemporaries, but I’m going with Prince. The guy was a fantastic guitar player but he wasn’t really known for that level of ability. People knew him more as a showman, also for his songwriting and performance, but Prince was an amazing guitar player. It’s a shame that those other attributes overshadowed his musicianship.
I’m acknowledging the totality of this person’s work – how much I liked what they did, and how much of it there was. John Lennon tops that list. But equal – and not below him – is Smokey Robinson. Besides his own hits such as The Tracks Of My Tears, Smokey wrote for others, including My Guy by Mary Wells.
THE MOST UNDERRATED BAND EVER
I really love King’s X. They did get to experience some success, but in my view they deserved much, much more.
THE BEST RECORD I’VE MADE
I’m very fond of our latest album The Symbol Remains, but overall it would probably be Secret Treaties . That was our third studio record, and each did better than the one before. I know through talking to the fans that it’s their favourite, and we have played most of its songs live. It seems to be the fruition of our songwriting during that particular era.
THE WORST RECORD I’VE MADE
This is a personal choice, but for me Blue Öyster Cult’s least satisfying record was Mirrors . We made it with [producer] Tom Werman, who had had a lot of success with Cheap Trick, and thought we were taking on a hit maker. But for one reason or another Werman did not care for my vocals and kept me out of the studio. I don’t recall how many tracks I got to sing [It was three - Ed]. He just didn’t want me around.
MY GUILTY PLEASURE
The first album I ever purchased, Time Out by [jazz band] the Dave Brubeck Quartet. It was just what was hip to buy in 1959, and I do enjoy that kind of music. I also like jazz-fusion; artists like [guitarist] Al Di Meola.
It can only be Baba O’Riley by The Who . Even after all these years those chords get me every time. I could have answered each of these questions with responses from The Who, because I’m a huge Who fan. Who’s to say that Pete Townshend shouldn’t have been my best guitar player, and writer, and the best everything?!
MY SATURDAY NIGHT/PARTY SONG
Bang The Drum All Day by Todd Rundgren. I don’t go out on a Saturday night, I’m usually working, but for your purposes that’s the one that gets me in the mood to have fun.
THE SONG THAT MAKES ME CRY
That one requires a great deal of thought… There are songs that get me misty-eyed, but I’ll be the only person to respond with a song by Frank Sinatra: It Was A Very Good Year.
MY ‘IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE’ SONG
I’m going to take you way back, before people met on the internet and even before the sexual revolution. What they did was put on a Johnny Mathis album. If you were having a ‘make-out’ party, somebody would always put on Johnny Mathis.
THE SONG I WANT PLAYED AT MY FUNERAL
You’d think it would be (Don’t Fear) The Reaper, wouldn’t you? But I don’t intend to have music at all. Just close family and a private graveside service.
“People knew him more as a showman, but Prince was an amazing guitar player.”
Blue Öyster Cult’s latest album The Symbol Remains is available via Frontiers Records.