Blue Öyster Cult, often abbreviated BÖC, is an American rock band, most of whose members first came together in New York in 1967 as the band Soft White Underbelly. The group is well known for songs including "(Don't Fear) The Reaper", "Burnin' for You", "Godzilla", "Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll", "Veteran of the Psychic Wars", "Astronomy" and "This Ain't the Summer of Love". They have sold over 24 million albums worldwide – including 7 million in the US.
The band originated as a group called Soft White Underbelly (a name the band would later occasionally use in the 1970s and 80s to play small club gigs around the U.S.) in 1967 in the vicinity of Stony Brook University on Long Island, New York, at the prompting of critic and manager Sandy Pearlman. Pearlman wanted the group to be the American answer to Black Sabbath. Pearlman was very important to the band—he was able to get them gigs, recording contracts with Elektra and Columbia, and he provided them with his poetry for use as lyrics for many of their songs, including "Astronomy". Writer Richard Meltzer also provided the band with lyrics from their early days up through their most recent studio album. The band (with original lead vocalist Les Braunstein and bassist Andrew Winters) recorded an album's worth of material for Elektra Records in 1968. When Braunstein departed in early 1969, Elektra shelved the album.
Eric Bloom (formerly the band's acoustic engineer) replaced Braunstein, and the band continued to perform as Soft White Underbelly. However, a bad review of a 1969 Fillmore East show caused Pearlman to change the name of the band - first to Oaxaca, then to the Stalk-Forrest Group. The band recorded yet another album's worth of material for Elektra, but only one single ("What Is Quicksand?" b/w "Arthur Comics") was released (and only in a promo edition of 300 copies) on Elektra Records. (This album was eventually released, with additional outtakes, by Rhino Handmade Records as St. Cecilia: The Elektra Recordings in 2001). After a few more temporary band names, including the Santos Sisters, the band settled on Blue Öyster Cult in 1971. (see "band name" section below for its origin).
New York producer and jingle writer David Lucas saw the band perform and took them into his Warehouse Recording Studio and produced a demo, with which Pearlman was able to get the renamed band another audition with Columbia Records. Clive Davis liked what he heard, and signed the band to the label. The first album was subsequently recorded on eight track at Lucas' studio.