During this time he wrote a series of poems called Imaginos, whose characters and lyrics would feature in his later career.
In 1967 he was one of the original rock music critics for Crawdaddy! magazine, along with Paul Williams, Jon Landau and Richard Meltzer. He is widely regarded as the originator of the term "heavy metal music". Pearlman is also hailed (or blamed) by The Village Voice for creating "the Triumph of the Will guitar sound."
He came up with the name for the band "Blue Oyster Cult", based on a group in one of his Imaginos poems. He also originated the name of the pre-BOC band "Soft White Underbelly", taking the phrase from a speech by Winston Churchill in World War II.
In 1976, Pearlman produced BÖC's "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" and a character representing Pearlman was portrayed by Christopher Walken in the Saturday Night Live parody skit of the making of the song. However the name mistakenly used for the character was that of Bruce Dickinson, another record producer who later compiled BÖC remastered reissues but never produced any in-studio tracks and had nothing to do with the original recording.
He is considered an important figure in the development of commercial American rock music, and his intervention in British punk. He was drafted in by record company CBS to produce Give 'Em Enough Rope, The Clash's second album. His production, which gave The Clash's music a more widely recognizable "rock" sound to appease the American arm of the record company, remains controversial.
In 1989 he took over as president of the alternative record company 415 Records and established a production and distribution deal for the label with MCA Records. In the late 1990s, he served as the vice-president of e-music.com. He also served as vice-president of marketing for MoodLogic.com from 2000-2003.
Pearlman is presently an adjunct Professor of music theory at McGill University in Montreal, in the programs in sound recording and music technology. As a public speaker, Pearlman lectures on the future of the music industry, strategies for remonetizing music downloads, and the history of heavy metal music.