Breaking: Blue Öyster Cult Producer Sandy Pearlman Dies

Classic rock producer, manager, and intellectual Sandy Pearlman has passed away.

Sandy Pearlman, who produced nearly every Blue Oyster Cult album, passed away on Tuesday at age 72.  Beyond his production chops and hitmaking skills, Pearlman was also a razor-sharp industry watcher and commentator, speaking regularly at industry events and holding multiple professorships.

Pearlman’s biggest hit came with ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper,’ a classic rock gem from Blue Öyster Cult.  The song features a non-stop cowbell throughout and helped to spawn the enduring phrase, ‘More Cowbell!’ after a famous Saturday Night Live skit in 2000.  Pearlman produced the track alongside David Lucas and Murray Krugman, with Blue Öyster Cult guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser penning the piece.

Aside from his famous production work with Blue Oyster Cult, Pearlman also produced records for The Clash, The Dictators, and Dream Syndicate, among other classic rock groups.

Beyond that, Pearlman was a serious, full-time manager whose roster included Black Sabbath, Blue Öyster Cult, and Aldo Nova, among others.  With multiple groups under his belt, Pearlman is credited with creating super-packages of superstar rock artists, with shared costs and packed arenas among the many benefits.  That became an enduring touring format, and may have contributed to the eventual ubiquity of the festival format today.

Aside from his substantial musical accomplishments, Pearlman was also an early player on the digital stage.  He was a founding executive at eMusic during the late 1990s, and an executive at recommendation play MoodLogic in the early 2000s. Pearlman died in Marin County; funeral details have not been disclosed.

Cowbell image by Kyle Pearson, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0).

3 Responses

  1. Daniel Hains

    I got to know him at McGill University in 2008. He taught an amazing course on music production with Daniel Levitin.
    Sandy was sharp, funny and always available to chat after class. He also always carried a big pile of CDs of his work and other stuff he liked that you could borrow from him. Great memories…


  2. Eric

    I knew Sandy, too. He was a passionate innovator. I’m very sorry to hear of his passing. He would not have been amused by the choice to use the cowbell photo above.