The True Story Behind The Saturday Night Live’s “Cowbell” Skit

The True Story Behind The Saturday Night Live’s “Cowbell” Skit | Society Of Rock Videos

via Variety Vagabond/YouTube

A bit of cowbell can transform an ordinary recording session into an extraordinary, timeless comedy gem.

On that fateful April 8th in the year 2000, the comedic skies of Saturday Night Live illuminated with one of its most cherished sketches – “More Cowbell.” This uproarious piece offered a humorous take on the recording of Blue Öyster Cult’s timeless anthem, “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.”

Penned by the talented actor Will Ferrell, who also graced the screen as the fictional cowbell player, Gene Frenkle, the sketch featured an ensemble of comedic talents including Christopher Walken as producer “The Bruce Dickinson,” Jimmy Fallon as Albert Bouchard, Chris Parnell as Eric Bloom, Chris Kattan as Buck Dharma, and Horatio Sanz as Joe Bouchard.

A single viewing still evokes uncontrollable laughter.

Frenkle’s wild enthusiasm for playing the cowbell veers into delightful chaos. As his bandmates struggle to maintain focus, Dickinson, far from irritated, utters the now-famous line, “I gotta have more cowbell!” – a phrase that swiftly infiltrated pop culture.

The genesis of this comic masterpiece sprouted from Will Ferrell’s exposure to “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” He shared his insight, revealing:

“Every time I heard [the song], I would hear the faint cowbell in the background and wonder, ‘What is that guy’s life like?'”


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Interestingly, SNL’s executive producer, Lorne Michaels, wasn’t initially convinced about the sketch’s potential.

In a surprising twist, the sketch had to endure around seven submissions before earning the coveted approval. Even then, it found its place towards the end of the episode. The challenge of maintaining composure was universal among the cast, especially given Ferrell and Walken’s comedic prowess. Amid the hilarity, even Ferrell himself succumbed to laughter after Fallon’s outburst due to Ferrell’s overly snug shirt.


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Interestingly, the original “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” does indeed incorporate a cowbell, although its presence remains less prominent, often overshadowed by other instrumental layers. However, Blue Öyster Cult embraced the sketch with open arms. Buck Dharma, the band’s co-vocalist, even declared that “Ferrell pretty much sabotaged” the song’s eerie ambiance.

Watch the skit below:

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