Eric Bloom, lead vocalist and “stun guitarist” of the long-running rock group Blue Oyster Cult, said that the group’s touring style has gone through phases in the 40 plus years they’ve been touring.
“Our earliest touring in 1971 or ‘72 shall we say was in a van and we used to put all our stuff in a van and we had a rent a car and I owned the van and I rented the car, which is probably how I got the job,” said Bloom, who was brought in as the band’s vocalist in 1969.
“Our first gigs were playing clubs in Pennsylvania and Upstate New York and all of the Northeast…I had a ‘68 Chevy and we put all our stuff in it and because I gave the band my van I had to get myself a car, a‘65 Malibu…and a few guys from the band would ride in my car, and two guys would ride in the van, and that’s how we got to all our gigs.”
Later on, at the height of the band’s popularity in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, Bloom said that they travelled with three semi tractor trailers, 27 guys on the crew and two tour busses and that they would fly to cities and take limos around the cities they went to on tour.
“It’s nothing compared to Taylor Swift, today,” Bloom said.
“And these days, because we might play Vermont one day and California the next day,” Bloom said.
“As we talk now, we have to fly to Dallas and play a show and then fly to San Francisco and then take a fancy van, like a Sprinter van, and drive into the Redwoods and do a show and then we’ll load up back in the van in the morning and then fly back to New York, so it’s impossible to truck our gear.”
He said that they take a small amount of their gear around, rent amps and drum kits on a nightly basis and only when they play near New York can they play with all of their own equipment. Virginia is in that range, according to Bloom, so he and the rest of Blue Oyster Cult who will be playing, fully loaded, at State Theatre this Friday, June 19.
According to Bloom, Blue Oyster Cult learned a lot about touring and stage craft from one of their early tours, opening for another rock legend: Alice Cooper.
“We were lucky enough to get on a tour with Alice Cooper and that’s when we really started learning how the rock business worked,” Bloom said.
“And we learned a lot working with him….We sort of learned at his feet how to do a rock show. He was kind of our mentor. We really owe him a lot.
“I think that everyone learned how to do a rock show from him because he originated sort of the modern day rock show. I would say that anyone who has any kind of theatrical rock show owes it all to him.”
Bloom and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser are the two members of the Blue Oyster Cult who have been with the group the longest – Roeser has been with the group since its inception and Bloom joined up a couple years later. Bloom said that, despite the changes in the group’s touring logistics, the band has only taken a nine month hiatus from touring in the late ‘80s.
“Well, you’ve got roll with it, if you want to work,” Bloom said. “You’ve got to do whatever it takes.”
• For more information about Blue Oyster Cult, visit blueoystercult.com.