Blue Öyster Cult

(Don't Fear) The Reaper

Composed by Donald Roeser

Song Review by

The best song Donald "Buck" Roeser ever wrote and the best record Blue Öyster Cult ever cut, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" is an extraordinary, menacing hard rock variation on the Byrds' jangling pop. Blue Öyster Cult usually rocked a lot harder than this -- even their jokes tended to be delivered a little less than subtly -- but they never sounded as threatening as they do here, even if it was performed with their tongue slightly in cheek. Some could argue that the song's real strength was as a record, and it is true that the handful of cover versions that have followed don't capture the creeping doom of the original, but the song never sounds bad, even in the hand of bar bands. That's because the lyrics are carefully observed and the minor-key melody is elegantly insinuating. Other bands have tried to capture the feeling of impending doom, even death, but no song has done it as effectively as "(Don't Fear) The Reaper."

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Agents of Fortune 1976 Culture Factory 5:05
Some Enchanted Evening 1978 Talking Elephant
Rock Album, Vol. 1 [K-Tel] 1980
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 5:07
Extraterrestrial Live 1982 Columbia 6:42
The Best of Blue Öyster Cult: Don't Fear the Reaper 1983 Legacy / Columbia/Legacy 5:09
Career of Evil: The Metal Years 1987 Columbia 6:04
Loud and Proud 1988
Various Artists
Columbia 5:03
Rock Classics: Laserscharf 1989
Various Artists
CBS Records 5:06
Three Decades of Rock: 60s 70s & 80s 1990
Various Artists
Priority Records
Sounds of the Seventies: 1976 - Take Two 1991
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:53
Classic Rock Box: WNEW-FM 25th Anniversary Box 1992
Various Artists
PolyGram 5:06
Ultimate Rock, Vol. 1 1993
Various Artists
Alex
No Image 1993
Various Artists
Cult Classic 1994 Herald Records 5:07
The Metal Box Set 1994
Various Artists
Castle Music Ltd. 5:38
Rocktastic 1994
Various Artists
3:14
Live 1976 1994 Gopaco
Classic Live Performances, Vol. 1 1995
Various Artists
Universal Special Products 6:05
Born to Be Wild, Vol. 2 [Madacy 1995] 1995
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 3:48
Workshop of the Telescopes 1995 Columbia/Legacy 5:08
No Image 1995
Various Artists
Columbia / Sony Music Distribution 5:07
Forever Rock, Vol. 2 [Sony] 1996
Various Artists
Madacy 5:08
Only Rock 'N Roll 1975-1979: #1 Radio Hits 1996
Various Artists
Rhino / JCI Associated Labels 3:45
Rock 'n 70s 1996
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:48
Revisited 1996 Gusto Records 5:07
Ultimate Rock 'N' Roll Collection [EMI] 1996
Various Artists
Legacy / Sony Music Distribution
Summerdaze 1997
Various Artists
CMC International
All Out Rock 1997
Various Artists
Essex 3:53
Rock for the Ages 1997
Various Artists
Hip-O
Whole Lotta Rock: 1976-1977 1997
Various Artists
Eclipse Music Group 5:07
Rock 'N Roll Relix: 1970-1978 1997
Various Artists
BCI-Eclipse Distribution / Eclipse Music Group 5:06
Have a Howlin' Halloween 1997
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:06
Spirit of America [Crimson] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions
Super Hits 1998 Legacy / Columbia/Legacy 5:08
Greatest Rock: All-Time Classics, Vol. 2 1998
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 3:51
The Best of Heavy Metal [BMG] 1998
Various Artists
BMG Special Products 7:50
Guitar Rock: Heavy Favorites 1998
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Time/Life Music 5:05
Hard Rock [Delta] 1998
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 5:08
RNR Greatest Hits of the 70's, Vol. 2 1999
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:09
Rockin' from the Grave 1999
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 5:07
Easyriders, Vol. 5 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music 100 Years: Soundtrack for a Century 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:51
Superhits of Rock: 1965 - 1979 1999
Various Artists
L & D 5:09
It's Only Rock N Roll [Sony International] 1999
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:04
Rock Giants, Vol. 2 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:08
Don't Fear the Reaper [Sony Music Special Products] 2000 Sony Music Distribution 6:37
Rock Trax: Hard & Heavy 2000
Various Artists
Calamari Records 7:51
American Classics [Import] 2000
Various Artists
Shock 3:46
Hard Rock to Metal 2000
Various Artists
Delta Distribution 5:08
Greatest Hits of the 70's, Vol. 11 2000
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:07
Supergroups of the 70s [Madacy] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 5:10
Sensational '70s [2000/Box Set] 2000
Various Artists
Madacy 5:08
City Rocks: New York 2000
Various Artists
Cityrocks 7:51
No Image 2000
Various Artists
Realm Records 5:07
Greatest Hits of the 70's [Sony] 2001
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:07
No Image 2001
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:07
Tales of the Psychic War, Vols. 1-2 2001 Pilot 6:30
All Music Guide: Classic Rock 2001
Various Artists
Medalist Entertainment 5:09
The Ultimate Hits of the 70's 2001
Various Artists
Collectables 5:08
The Ultimate Jukebox Hits of the '70s, Vol. 1 2001
Various Artists
Collectables 5:08
Jukebox Hits of the '70s [Collectables] 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 2:26
40 Years of Jukebox Hits: The 50's, 60's, 70's & 80's 2002
Various Artists
Collectables 5:08
Rock Hit Box 2002
Various Artists
BMG International 5:07
Ultimate Power of Supergroups 2002
Various Artists
Madacy Distribution / Madacy 5:10
A Long Day's Night 2002 Sanctuary 8:14
Rock Monsters 2002
Various Artists
Universal Distribution
Rock Classics: The Heavyweights 2002
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution / Sony Music Entertainment 5:08
Long Live Rock N Roll 2003
Various Artists
Steamhammer 5:07
Then and Now 2003 Sanctuary / Sanctuary Records 7:38
The Essential Blue Öyster Cult 2003 Sony Music Distribution 5:09
Top Hits of the Seventies: Chart Toppers 2003
Various Artists
Collectables 5:07
Absolutely the Best of Classic Rock 2003
Various Artists
Fuel 2000 / Varese 3:49
No Image 2003
Various Artists
Columbia
Are You Ready to Rock? 2003 Sony Music Distribution 5:09
Rock 'N' Roll's Greatest Hits 70's 2003
Various Artists
Platinum Disc 5:09
Elite: Rock 2003
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd.
Box of Rock 2003
Various Artists
Import 5:10
Freewheeling 2003
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:51
Rockin' 70's [Sony] 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 5:07
No Image 2004
Various Artists
Sony BMG
On the Road 2004
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Legends: For Your Love 2004
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 5:09
The Best of Classic Rock 2005
Various Artists
Fuel 2000 3:49
No Image 2005
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution 3:49
Let It Grow 2005
Various Artists
River Cottage 4:39
Then: Totally Oldies - Classic Rock 2005
Various Artists
Varèse Vintage / Varèse Sarabande 5:07
Singles Collection 2005 Columbia 3:48
Harley-Davidson: Ride 2005
Various Artists
Capitol/EMI Records / The Right Stuff/EMI 5:07
Live [Direct Source] 2005 Direct Source 7:40
Classic Rock Hits [Direct Source] 2005
Various Artists
Direct Source 7:40
Classic Rock Hits 2006
Various Artists
Varèse Sarabande / Fuel 2000 / Varese 3:49
Maximum Cowbell 2006
Various Artists
Sony BMG 5:10
Collections 2006 Legacy 5:09
Highway South: Overdrive 2006
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 3:50
100 Biggest Hits from the 70's 2006
Various Artists
BMG
Monsters of Rock [EMI] 2006
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution
The Seventies: Hard Rockin 70's, Vol. 2 2007
Various Artists
American Beat Records 5:06
Absolute Driving Rock 2007
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 5:10
Kings of Rock 2007
Various Artists
Music Club Records 5:05
Halloween [2007 Original Soundtrack] 2007
Original Soundtrack
Hip-O 5:08
Live [Sony/BMG] 2007 Sbme Special Mkts.
No. 1 Rock Album 2007
Various Artists
Music Club Deluxe 5:10
Rock Classics [Sony BMG] 2007
Various Artists
Sony BMG 5:04
World's Best Dad [2007] 2007
Various Artists
Bmg Tv 3:49
The Power of Love: 60 Powerful Love Ballads 2008
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:48
The Best of Blue Oyster Cult [Sony Australia] 2008 Sony BMG 5:10
American Heartbeat: A Pulsating 80's Rock Collection 2008
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:51
World's Best Dad Gift Set 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG 3:49
Original Album Classics [2008] 2008 Legacy / Sony BMG 6:20
Ultimate Collection 100 Hits: Rock 2008
Various Artists
Union Square Music 3:49
No Image 2008
Various Artists
Sony BMG
Halloween Hits [Crimson] 2008
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 5:12
Halloween Classics [Shout Factory] 2008
Various Artists
Shout! Factory 5:10
Legendary Rock 2008
Various Artists
MP Records 5:04
The Pop Years: 1978-1979 2009
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 3:49
Triple Feature 2009 Sony Music Distribution / Sony BMG / Sony Classics 6:42
The Collection: The Hits of 1976 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:09
Essential: The Power of Rock 2009
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:10
Playlist: The Very Best of Blue Öyster Cult 2010 BMG / Sony BMG / Sony Music
Haynes Ultimate Guide to Rock: Dad 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music Entertainment 3:50
Setlist: The Very Best of Blue Öyster Cult Live 2010 Columbia / Legacy 6:49
Born to Be Wild: Tracks for Bikers 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution / Sony Music Entertainment 5:08
The  Pop Years: The 70s 2010
Various Artists
Crimson / Crimson Productions / Zoom
Pure... Guitar Heroes 2010
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:10
Made in America: 20 Classic All-American Anthems 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:48
Ultimate Guide to Rock Anthems 2011
Various Artists
Haynes / Sony Music 5:09
Pure... Drive 2011
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:09
Dont Fear the Reaper/On Your Feet or on Your Knees 2011 Allegro Corporation / American Legends 5:10
Original Album Classics [2012] 2012 Columbia / Sony Music
No Image 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:06
The Boys Are Back in Town 2012 2012
Various Artists
Universal Music TV 3:49
360 Sound: The Columbia Records Story 2012
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:08
The Complete Columbia Albums Collectiön 2012 Columbia / Sony Legacy 6:35
Haynes Ultimate Guide to Classic Anthems: Rock 2013
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:10
Pure... Rock Ballads 2013
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:07
Original Album Classics 2013 Columbia 5:08
100 Hits: Drivetime Anthems 2013
Various Artists
100 Hits 3:50
The Box Set Series 2014 Legacy / Sony Legacy 5:09
30 Stars: Classic Rock 2014
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:07
Top 40: '70s Pop 2014
Various Artists
Crimson
The Box Set Series: Classic Rock 2014
Various Artists
Legacy 5:10
The Party Mix: Power Ballads 2014
Various Artists
Crimson 3:51
The 70s: Blue Öyster Cult 2014 BMG / BMG / Sony Music / Sony Music Entertainment 5:08
100 Hits: Total Rock 2014
Various Artists
100 Hits 3:50
100 Hits: Super 70s Karaoke 2014
Various Artists
100 Hits
Now That's What I Call Classic Rock [2015] 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:45
No Image 2015
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:09
Born to Be Wild 2016 Zip City 6:19
100 Hits: Power Ballads
Various Artists
100 Hits / Demon / Edsel 3:51
70s U.S. Playlist
Various Artists
Crimson
Absolute Rock Anthems II
Various Artists
2009 Eva / Eva 3:47
Box of Rock [Disc 4]
Various Artists
Rajon Entertainment Pty Ltd. 5:10
No Image
Various Artists
Word Distribution
Dad Songs
Various Artists
Crimson
Latest & Greatest Rock Bands
Various Artists
Union Square / Union Square Music 3:51
Massive Hits!: Rock
Various Artists
Mixed Repertoire 3:50
Now That's What I Call '70s
Various Artists
Now!
Now That's What I Call Rock Ballads
Various Artists
Now! 3:49
Rock!: The Album
Various Artists
Sony Music 5:07
The Heart of Classic Rock [Box Set]
Various Artists
Time/Life Music 5:04
The Music of Blue Öyster Cult Columbia / Legacy 5:09
Top Gear Driving Anthems 2014
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:48
Ultimate... Rock
Various Artists
Sony Music 3:45
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