Sandy Pearlman, a record executive, songwriter, manager, poet and producer for acts like Blue Öyster Cult and the Clash, has died, according to a Facebook post from friend Robert Duncan. He was 72.
Duncan wrote that Pearlman “passed peacefully surrounded by love” Tuesday morning, and that a celebration of his life would be announced in the coming days. In June, Duncan created a GoFundMe page to help cover Pearlman’s medical costs after the producer suffered a cerebral hemorrhage that left him unable to walk, talk or fully comprehend his surroundings.
On the GoFundMe page, Duncan praised Pearlman’s extensive contributions to music, writing, “He is a pioneer of rock criticism, at Crawdaddy and other seminal publications, a pioneer of heavy metal (a phrase he may have been the first to use, as a rock critic), a pioneer of punk, paisley underground and goth.”
Pearlman was instrumental in the formation of Blue Öyster Cult, giving the group their first name — Soft White Underbelly — booking their first gigs around New York City and securing them a meeting with then-Columbia president, Clive Davis, who inked the band to a record deal.
Pearlman would produce Blue Öyster Cult’s self-titled debut, as well as seven more of the band’s albums, ending with 1988’s Imaginos, which drew lyrics from Pearlman’s collection of poems of the same name. Pearlman produced and helped write some of the band’s biggest hits including “Godzilla” and “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” (he said in response to Saturday Night Live‘s famous “More cowbell” sketch, “Actually, I needed, less cowbell”).
As a producer, Pearlman worked with an array of groups throughout the Seventies and Eighties, including Pavlov’s Dog, the Dictators and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. CBS tapped him to produce the Clash’s 1978 second LP, Give ‘Em Enough Rope, which helped grow the burgeoning punk outfit’s audience
Pearlman’s career also included stints as Black Sabbath’s manager (1979 to 1983) and vice president of the early online music retailer, eMusic. In 2009, Pearlman was named an at-large member of the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.