Blue Öyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” is a single from their smash 1976 album, Agents of Fortune. It was released as a single and went on to become Blue Öyster Cult’s biggest chart success, reaching #7 in Cash Box and #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 in late 1976. The critics were mainly positive about the song and, in 2004, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” was listed at number 405 on the Rolling Stone list of the top 500 songs of all time. The song, written and sung by the band’s lead guitarist Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser, deals with eternal love and the inevitability of death.
Unfortunately, along the way, the song also became popular for a parody on Saturday Night Live in a VH1-sinspired “Behind the Music” style documentary sketch that aired April 8, 2000. Not to give too much away, but let’s just say that the song’s producer wanted “more cowbell” in the song and he got it!
First though, the original version of the song, performed LIVE in 1976 (again not sure where this was recorded, so if you have any idea help me out here!) and features Eric Bloom on guitar and backing vocals, Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser on lead guitar and lead vocals, Allen Lanier on keyboards, Joe Bouchard on bass and piano, and Albert Bouchard on drums, acoustic guitar, percussion and … harmonica? Here they are, Blue Öyster Cult with “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper!”
And if you’ve never seen the “Needs More Cowbell” sketch from SNL, here it is an edited version with Christopher Walken and Willk Ferrell!