Monday, April 04, 2022

Rick Beato Talks with Buck Dharma about “Don’t Fear the Reaper”


More Cowbell !!

I liked this song the first time I heard it upon its release in 1976 — that guitar riff is killer and it only gets better from there — and later of course the tune grew to legendary status when SNL cleverly came up with the “more cowbell” skit, which they discuss on the video.

Buck Dharma — real name Don Roeser — looks great for a guy in his 50s, especially since he’s 74. 

An interesting interview, and Don is likable. He was born in 1947 and his father was a jazz saxophonist so he heard a lot of jazz as a child, and then decided to become a musician when the British Invasion hit our shores in early 1964. He went to college for Chemical Engineering but dropped out to start the band that would become Blue Oyster Cult.

For “Don’t Fear the Reaper” he wrote the riff, the lyrics, and arrangement, so this is all him. He even recorded the demo himself on a multi-track TEAC tape deck that he had just bought.

Here’s the original. As Rick notes, the cowbell is much more buried in the mix and barely noticeable in the song itself, as we would expect; it was only the comedy skit that makes us now think it’s so prominent.

The SNL skit.