|Soft White Underbelly began as a loose enclave of musicians who quite simply enjoyed playing and partying together, creating music that was equal parts San Francisco psychedelia and New York grit -- with extended jams and improvisation.
Amongst the participants were keyboardist Allen Lanier and Stony Brook mover-and-shaker / music critic Sandy Pearlman, who would eventually become the band's manager. It was during this time that Roeser took on the stage name "Buck Dharma," which actually came from a rejected Pearlman idea in which each band member was given an unusual stage name. The names were summarily rejected by all except Roeser, who actually liked the name, and the idea of having an alternate persona.
As the Underbelly's unique sound took shape, it caught the ear of Jac Holzman, president of Elektra Records, who rewarded their creative efforts with a recording contract. Unfortunately, after recording a remarkable debut album, band personnel problems led Elektra to drop SWU before the recording was released.
Despite the setback, the band pushed forward, filling the vacant band positions with singer Eric Bloom and Albert's brother Joe Bouchard on bass. With the new members' influence, the music began to take on different shape, and this new sound was now shopped to record companies. After a live audition in a Columbia Records conference room for Columbia Records president Clive Davis, Harry Nilsson and Bobby Columby, the band secured a long-term contract under the new moniker Blue Öyster Cult, as bestowed upon them by manager Pearlman.
Blue Öyster Cult blasted onto the music scene in 1972 with their self-titled first album. The record received broad critical acclaim, and their next two albums, Tyranny & Mutation and Secret Treaties, only increased their following. Originally signed by Columbia as the American answer to Black Sabbath, the band's ultra-tight live act created a loyal, rabid fan base that ultimately turned BÖC into one of the most successful live rock acts of the '70s.