Anyone who has read my book will recognize how much Blue Öyster Cult’s work has influenced my own habits and taste. I discovered the band (beyond the obvious hits) when I was in tenth grade, when a friend of mine introduced me to this song:
The opening piano section was striking, an immediate hook, setting the sinister tone of surreal mystery that permeates the song. It was played by Allen Lanier, who died today from complications of C.O.P.D., per the band’s Facebook site.
Prior to my discovery of B.Ö.C’s work, my idea of good rock and roll keyboards was limited to such obvious virtuosi as Emerson, Wakeman, Moraz, and other prog monsters. But as I moved through high school and college, I developed a real appreciation for Lanier’s textural, often understated parts. In a number of bands, I’ve found myself telling keyboardists, “Not so much — go for something more like Allen Lanier.”
Mr. Lanier’s death isn’t shocking in a conventional sense — he had been ill for some time, and had essentially retired from rock and roll nearly a decade ago. But it’s a loss, and I’ll remember his work — including the couple of times I saw the group live — as tasteful and graceful. So long, sir, and thanks for the music.