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RIP:  Sandy Pearlman

August 5, 1943 - July 26, 2016

New York Times Obituary

SNL more cowbell

Sandy Pearlman’s credits read like a who’s who of rock radio.  A former Woodrow Wilson Fellow in the History of Ideas, the Billboard Producer Directory called Sandy the “Hunter Thompson of rock, a gonzo producer of searing intellect and vast vision.”  As producer and writer for the Blue Oyster Cult, Sandy helped establish the genre of Heavy Metal.  (He was one of the founders of Rock Criticism, and literally was the first to use the phrase “Heavy Metal” as it applied to music during his sojourn at Crawdaddy magazine.)  BOC recorded and Sandy produced such classics as “Don’t Fear the Reaper, “ “Burning For You,” “Astronomy” (covered by Metallica) and “The Red and The Black” (covered by the legendary Minutemen).  (Sandy was even portrayed by Christopher Walken in a Saturday Night Live parody skit of the making of “Reaper.”)  He produced the classic second record by The Clash, Give ‘em Enough Rope, along with what was arguably the first “punk” record, The Dictators’ Go Girl Crazy.  Sandy worked with the legendary Pavlov’s Dog, who anticipated the goth movement by more than ten years as well as the leaders of LA’s Paisley Underground, The Dream Syndicate.  He has collaborated with the likes of Patti Smith (who co-wrote various BOC songs), Phil Manzanera and Andrew Mackay of Roxy Music, Bill Bruford, etc.  In recognition of his work, Sandy has received 17 Gold and Platinum records.

More recently, Sandy headed the alternative label, 415 Records, whose roster included Romeo Void, Translator, Wire Train, Red Rockers, Love Club, Manitoba’s Wild Kingdom, etc.  He acted as executive producer on much of the later period 415 output.  He has also spent time as manager of Black Sabbath, BOC, The Dictators and Romeo Void.  Sandy was able to squeeze in production for the second (wonderful) Space Team Electra album, The Intergalactic Torch Song and West, Gould & Fitzgerald‘s “So What Does It All Mean?” from the A Walk To Remember soundtrack between his various internet consulting gigs.

Sandy was one of the founders of eMusic, a San Francisco based multimedia/on-line music-based company that focused on “The Convergence of Music and Technology” (to borrow a title from the lecture Sandy gave to the Stanford Music Department).  Sandy is considered one of the leading experts on the intersection of multimedia and music. He conducted a panel on the future of audio in the 21st Century at the Mill Valley Film Festival, and has lectured at the University of California at Monterey Film School.  He has been profiled by publications/broadcasts as diverse as The Wall Street Journal, Mondo 2000, Album Network, Mix, National Public Radio and KIRO-TV (the CBS affiliate in Seattle).

Sandy is currently the Schulich distinguished chair at McGill University in Montreal.  His courses span the Music, Law, Management and English departments including “The Philosophy and Esthetics of Record Production.”  Besides his duties as a professor, he was recently appointed to the National Recording Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, creating policies to be implemented for the preservation and restoration of audio works (both musical and spoken).

He owns and operates Alpha & Omega, a 72 track analog recording facility (featuring a Trident 52 channel console plus an extensive ProTools recording/editing/mixing digital system) located in San Rafael, just across the Golden Gate Bridge.


sandy pearlman