Rock-music producer, manager, critic and songwriter Sandy Pearlman, who as a young SUNY Stony Brook graduate helped found the venerable rock band Blue Öyster Cult, has died at 72.
He had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in December “that left him unable to walk, talk or fully comprehend his circumstances and in need of enormously expensive care,” his longtime friend, music journalist Robert Duncan, said on a crowdfunding page to raise money for Pearlman’s medical treatment. On his Facebook page on Tuesday, Duncan wrote that Pearlman “passed peacefully, surrounded by love, at 12:30 am, July 26, 2016, in Marin County, California.”
Blue Öyster Cult singer-guitarist Eric Bloom said in a Facebook statement that Pearlman “was the creator, mentor, early manager, occasional lyricist of what became BOC” following earlier iterations of the band, “and he penned the name. He got us our record deal with Columbia Records” and wrote the lyrics to “Cities on Flame With Rock and Roll,” “ME 262,” “E.T.I. (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)” and many other songs. “He produced several albums. He certainly changed the path of my life. He had a brilliant mind, could discuss almost any topic and recently was lecturing at McGill University. Rest in Peace,” Bloom added.
Samuel Clarke Pearlman was born Aug. 8, 1943, in Rockaway, Queens. His father, Hyman Pearlman, owned a pharmacy in Smithtown where future BÖC bassist Andy Winters worked. Winters and other future band members regularly jammed at an old house nicknamed “The House on the Hill” near what was then Stony Brook College. Recent graduate Pearlman and others in the local music scene became involved, with Pearlman having “an idea for a band and this group of musicians had the chops to put that idea into play,” according to BÖC’s official site.
A seminal rock music critic for Crawdaddy magazine, Pearlman became manager and helped get the band signed to Columbia Records. He produced the group’s 1972 debut album “Blue Öyster Cult” and seven more through 1988’s “Imaginos,” and became immortalized in a 2000 “Saturday Night Live” sketch spoofing the recording of the hit “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” with Christopher Walken as producer “Bruce Dickinson” repeatedly demanding, “More cowbell!” Pearlman quipped in response, “Actually, I needed less cowbell.”
Pearlman also produced for bands including the Dictators, Dream Syndicate, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Pavlov’s Dog and others, and produced The Clash’s 1978 album “Give ’Em Enough Rope.” He managed Romeo Void, the Ronnie Dio-era Black Sabbath and other groups.
A member of the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, Pearlman turned to academia in his later years, serving as a New School Fellow in sociology and anthropology, a Dean’s Professor for Interdisciplinary Innovation and a Marshall McLuhan Centenary Fellow at the University of Toronto, a Schulich Distinguished Chair at McGill University, and a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in the History of Ideas at Brandeis. In 1998, he helped found the digital-music retailer eMusic.
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He had been planning to return to Stony Brook to teach.
Pearlman had no immediate survivors.
At a Blue Oyster Cult concert and Stony Brook alumni reunion set for Riverhead’s Suffolk Theater on Aug. 19, Pearlman is scheduled to receive the Long Island Sound Award from the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.