David Roter, a solo artist and songwriter long associated with the Blue Öyster Cult and best known for penning “Joan Crawford” on the band’s Fire of Unknown Origin album, died on February 16, soon after receiving a bone marrow transplant in his battle against a form of leukemia. He was 56.
Roter was a member of a close-knit group of artists, musicians, rock writers, men of action, and intellectual oddballs that surrounded BOC. Starting in the late ’60s and spanning the better part of the next two decades, their doings would generate an almost mystical cloud of lore that became part of the New York heavy-metal band’s reputation.
According to the Blue Öyster Cult mailing list, Roter sang lead a couple of times for an early incarnation of BOC, but “his outrageous material concerned the band.” Roter flashed this outrageousness in a series of engaging recordings released on his own label and Cellsum, the independent run by ex-BOC drummer and friend Albert Bouchard. One reviewer called Roter’s 1987 release Bambo “the most noteworthy Blue Öyster Cult-associated elpee in quite some time. . . .”
Roter’s last record, 2000’s They Made Me, featured a sunny ditty about male impotence and the unusual song-story, “My Sister’s Gynecologist,” a tale of a cross-dressing medico appreciated by women for his easy acceptance of their insurance plans. To family and friends, Roter was known for his “quick wit and soft heart.” A teacher since 1976, he followed his rock dreams when time permitted and had finished another as yet unreleased album for Cellsum.
Roter is survived by his sister Debby, brothers Harvey and Sandy, his wife Vivian and two sons, Jacob and Ben.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 4, 2003