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Eric_Bloom

Eric Bloom

Eric Bloom (born December 1, 1944) is an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and keyboardist. He is best known as the main vocalist, cowbell player, and "stun guitar" for the long-running band Blue Öyster Cult, with work on over 20 albums, much of it relating to his life-long interest in science fiction.

Biography

Early years: 1944-1962

A native New Yorker, Bloom was born in Brooklyn, the youngest of three children, and grew up in Queens. His mother was a stay-at-home housewife, active in local charities and family life. His father ran a picture frame and print company in Manhattan, having risen through the company from salesman to President.

Bloom attended JHS 216 (George J. Ryan Junior High School), and then moved on to Woodmere Academy and Cheshire Academy in Connecticut. It was there that he purchased his first guitar, a $52 Harmony full-bodied electric.

After graduating from Cheshire Academy in 1962, he went to Spain for the summer, studying at Menendez Pelayo University in Santander, before starting college in the Fall.

College: 1962-1967

Bloom attended Hobart College in Geneva, New York, studying modern languages. In 1964 he left college early to work for a family car-importing company, but he returned a year later, partially out of concerns that if he wasn't in college, he would be picked up in the Vietnam draft.

In college, he was involved with the casual forming of a couple short-term bands for playing at local venues. One of these was "Rick and the Ravons" (Eric Bloom was the "Rick"). Bloom also organized music for various fraternity parties. For one of them, he hired a band that later asked him to join. They renamed it as "Lost and Found", with whom he performed off and on for a few years. The band was comprised of George Faust on guitar, John Trivers on bass, Peter Haviland on lead guitar, Jeff Hayes as drummer, and Bloom singing.

In 1963, Bloom was also exposed to the music of Wilmer and the Dukes, who made a profound impression on him. He attended over 100 of their performances, and he and his band "Lost and Found" opened for them when they came to play at Hobart. Other major influences were James Brown, and Ronnie James Dio of "Ronnie Dio and the Prophets", a precursor to "Electric Elves" with keyboardist Doug Thaler (later a manager of Mötley Crüe) and "Elf", though Dio is probably now best known for his involvement with Richie Blackmore's "Rainbow," and "Black Sabbath," as well as the eponymous "Dio".

In Bloom's senior year, he was encouraged by his friends to join their Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. He also found himself volunteering to do sound engineering at local college events (such as a performance by Iron Butterfly), simply because he couldn't stand how bad the sound was. It was through his efforts that the college finally updated to a better sound system, after he graduated in 1967 (receiving a BA in Modern Languages).

Summer of Love - 1967

After college, Bloom toured with the band in upstate New York (he was the only one who had a van to transport equipment). The band had some membership changes and was renamed as "Rock Garden". They made one attempt to record a single but could not land a contract, so they continued on with live performances and cover tunes, until the band broke up in July 1967.

Though Bloom had applied and been accepted for graduate school at San Diego State University, he decided instead to spend the Summer of Love of 1967 as a drifter, pan-handling or selling sketches for $1 in Provincetown (P-town), Cape Cod, until he got a job washing dishes. On Labor Day, his college friend Trivers invited him to perform in Clayton, New York the next night. Despite the short notice, Bloom packed up and left Provincetown for good. The "Lost and Found" band re-formed and played through the rest of the season.

"Soft White Underbelly": 1968-1971

In 1968, Bloom moved to Plainview, Long Island to live with his sister. He obtained a job at the Sam Ash music store in Hempstead, selling music equipment. One day in late 1968 some members of the band "Soft White Underbelly", Donald Roeser (later Buck Dharma), Allen Lanier and Andrew Winters, entered the store. One of them spotted a photo that Bloom had put up as a joke -- he had placed an 8x10 glossy of his old "Lost and Found" band up on the wall with all the major bands such as the Rolling Stones and The Who. One of the SWU members recognized it because Les Braunstein, their lead singer, had also been a Hobart College alumnus, and had told his bandmates about the other college band. As Bloom talked with them about the photo, they struck up a friendship. Bloom ended up doing some sound engineering for them at the Electric Circus in Greenwich Village, and they mutually impressed each other enough that in November 1968, the band's manager, Sandy Pearlman, asked if Bloom would like to become their tour manager. Bloom moved into the band's house in Great Neck, New York in December 1968.

Blue Öyster Cult: 1972+

In April 1969, when lead singer Braunstein dropped out of the group, Bloom became the band's vocalist. The band went through several name changes, but in 1971 settled on Blue Öyster Cult. Their first album was released by Columbia Records in 1972, and they were voted "Best New Band" by Creem magazine.

In 1976 their platinum album Agents of Fortune with its megahit "(Don't Fear) the Reaper" launched the band into international fame. Both Creem and The Rolling Stone voted "Don't Fear the Reaper" as a top single of the year.

Bloom has been one of the longtime members of the band throughout the decades, along with original member Buck Dharma (it is estimated that they have given over 4,000 live performances). He has co-written several of the band's more popular songs, with recent projects being "The Old Gods Return" and "Eye of the Hurricane", and often collaborates with writers both inside and outside the music industry.

Outside collaborations

Bloom is known for being an avid reader, especially science fiction and fantasy novels. He once sent a fan letter to English science-fiction author Michael Moorcock, and then collaborated with him on three songs. "Black Blade" was written from the point of view of Moorcock's Elric character, and the other two were "The Great Sun Jester" and "Veteran of the Psychic Wars," the latter of which was used in the original Heavy Metal movie. In 1987, Bloom and Moorcock performed the song live at the Dragon*Con convention in Atlanta, Georgia.

Bloom also collaborated with author Eric Van Lustbader on the song "Shadow Warrior", and in 1998 and 2001 with cyberpunk author John Shirley on the Heaven Forbid and Curse of the Hidden Mirror albums.

In 2006, Bloom began a partnership with artist Philippe Renaudin, to create and sell six elaborately painted custom-made guitars, each one of which interprets a different Blue Öyster Cult song, and each one of which will be played in new Blue Öyster Cult performances.

Writing credits on selected songs

Trivia

In the 1970s, he was known for his afro-style hair, a full beard and mirrored sunglasses, though over the years this has changed to his current style of relatively short hair, a simple beard and regular sunglasses.

  • Bloom is also a well-known gamer, taking his laptop computer on the road with him to play MMORPGs, such as GemStone III, GemStone IV, EverQuest 2, Beyond Protocol, High Descent and World of Warcraft. He also plays Tekken, Final Fantasy, and Castlevania.
  • He has an extensive collection of custom guitars, many of which are Blue Öyster Cult-themed.
  • Bloom and Buck Dharma are the only original BÖC members still with the band.
  • He is one of the founding directors of the "Make a Wish" foundation in New York
  • The SNL More Cowbell sketch featured a character analogous to Eric Bloom named "Gene Frenkle", played by Will Ferrell (although Chris Parnell plays the character named Eric in the sketch). Both Bloom and Albert Bouchard claim to have played cowbell in the song "(Don't Fear) The Reaper".
  • Eric Bloom is a member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity.
  • His cousin by marriage is Howard Stern, according to Howard during a London 1986 interview with Dee Snider.
  • The now-defunct punk group fIREHOSE (which included major BÖC fan Mike Watt) dedicated a live cover of "The Red and the Black" to Eric on their Live Totem Pole EP. Watt's previous band, The Minutemen, referenced Bloom in the lyrics to their songs "History Lesson (part 2)" and "Tour Spiel".

References

External links

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