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The B-52's

The first of many acts to cement the college town of Athens, Georgia, as a hotbed of alternative music, and one of the first American new wave acts to fuse retro-styled rock & roll with dance-friendly rhythms, the B-52s took their name from the Southern slang for the mile-high bouffant wigs sported by singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson, a look emblematic of the band's campy, thrift-store aesthetic. The five-piece group, which also included vocalist Fred Schneider, guitarist Ricky Wilson (Cindy's older brother), and drummer Keith Strickland, formed in 1976 after a drunken evening at a Chinese restaurant; the bandmembers had little or no previous musical experience, and performed most of their earliest shows with taped guitar and percussion accompaniment.

In 1978, after gaining enough confidence to venture into a recording studio, the B-52s pressed up a few thousand copies of the single "Rock Lobster," which became a modest hit on the nascent alternative rock circuit. The B-52s soon traveled to New York City, playing their first paying gig at the famed rock club Max's Kansas City. Subsequent appearances at CBGB brought the group to the attention of the New York press, and in 1979 the B-52s signed a recording contract with Warner Bros. for the United States and Island for the U.K. and Europe; Island founder Chris Blackwell flew the band to the Bahamas, where they quickly recorded their self-titled debut album, a collection of manic, bizarre, and eminently danceable songs that scored an underground club hit with a reworked version of "Rock Lobster." The following year, they issued Wild Planet, which reached the Top 20 on the U.S. album charts; Party Mix!, an EP's worth of reworked material from the band's first two proper outings, appeared in 1981.

Hoping to expand their musical approach, the B-52s recruited friend and fan David Byrne to produce their third album, but by all accounts, the bandmembers (and their record labels) were not happy with the results, which emphasized a darker, funkier sound and minimized Ricky Wilson's guitar and the group's playful side. Ultimately, Byrne and the B-52s walked away from the project, and six completed tracks were released as an EP, 1982's Mesopotamia. After a Schneider solo LP, 1984's Fred Schneider & the Shake Society, the group returned to the studio to record 1986's Bouncing Off the Satellites. While the album tried to put a brave face on a difficult situation, Ricky Wilson was seriously ill while recording the LP, and on October 12, 1985, Ricky died; originally his death was attributed to natural causes, but it was later revealed that he had succumbed to AIDS-related illnesses. In light of Wilson's death, the B-52s found it impossible to promote the new album, and they spent the next several years on hiatus.

In 1989, the B-52s finally returned with Cosmic Thing, which became their most commercially successful effort to date. Marked by Strickland's move from drums to guitar and club-friendly production from Don Was and Nile Rodgers, the album launched several hit singles, including the party smash "Love Shack," "Roam," and "Deadbeat Club." In 1990, Cindy Wilson retired from active duty, leaving the remaining trio to soldier on for 1992's Good Stuff. A year later, dubbed the BC-52s, they performed the theme song for the live-action feature The Flintstones. In 1996, Fred Schneider released his second solo album, Just Fred, produced by Steve Albini and featuring accompaniment from members of the Didjits, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Six Finger Satellite, and Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet. Cindy Wilson returned to the group for a tour supporting the release of the 1998 hits collection Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation. Four years later, the double-disc compilation Nude on the Moon: The B-52's Anthology would dive deeper into their catalog by featuring rare tracks, live recordings, and remixes along with the hits.

In 2008, after 16 years away from the studio while the band toured periodically, the B-52s returned with a new album; released by Astralwerks, Funplex was a slick, synthesizer-driven effort produced by Steve Osborne. Meanwhile, Fred Schneider recorded a handful of singles and EPs with his side project the Superions, and in February 2015, Kate Pierson issued her first solo album, Guitars and Microphones. In April 2015, the B-52s released a digital-only archival release, Live! 8-24-1979, recorded as the band opened for Talking Heads just six weeks after their debut album was released. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: With The Wild Crowd: Live In Athens, GA

1. Pump (Live)

2. Private Idaho (Live)

3. Mesopotamia (Live)

4. Ultraviolet (Live)

5. Give Me Back My Man (Live)

6. Funplex (Live)

7. Whammy Kiss (Live)

8. Roam (Live)

9. 52 Girls (Live)

10. Party Out Of Bounds (Live)

11. Love In The Year 3000 (Live)

12. Cosmic Thing (Live)

13. Hot Corner (Live)

14. Band Intros (Live)

15. Love Shack (Live)

16. Wig (Live)

17. Planet Claire (Live)

18. Rock Lobster (Live)

x

Track List: Funplex

1. Pump

2. Hot Corner

3. Ultraviolet

4. Juliet Of The Spirits

5. Funplex

6. Eyes Wide Open

7. Love In The Year 3000

8. Deviant Ingredient

9. Too Much To Think About

10. Dancing Now

11. Keep This Party Going

x

Track List: Time Capsule: The Mixes - Hallucinating Pluto

1. Hallucinating Pluto

2. Hallucinating Pluto (Jason's "Ride On" Remix)

3. Good Stuff (Schottische Mix)

4. Love Shack (DJ Tonka Mix / Radio Edit)

5. Debbie (Edge Factor Club Mix)

6. Hallucinating Pluto (The "Ride On" Beats)

7. Love Shack (12" Remix)

x

Track List: Time Capsule: Songs For A Future Generation

1. Planet Claire

2. 52 Girls

3. Rock Lobster

4. Party Out Of Bounds

6. Private Idaho

7. Quiche Lorraine

8. Mesopotamia

9. Song For A Future Generation

11. Channel Z

12. Deadbeat Club

13. Love Shack

14. Roam

15. Good Stuff

16. Is That You Mo-Dean?

17. Debbie

18. Hallucinating Pluto

x

Track List: Good Stuff

1. Tell It Like It T-I-Is

2. Hot Pants Explosion

3. Good Stuff

4. Revolution Earth

5. Dreamland

6. Is That You Mo-Dean?

7. The World's Green Laughter

8. Vision Of A Kiss

9. Breezin'

10. Bad Influence

x

Track List: Party Mix/Mesopotamia

1. Party Out Of Bounds

2. Private Idaho

3. Give Me Back My Man

4. Lava

5. Dance This Mess Around

6. 52 Girls

7. Loveland

8. Deep Sleep

9. Mesopotamia

10. Cake

11. Throw That Beat In The Garbage Can

12. Nip It In The Bud

x

Track List: Cosmic Thing

1. Cosmic Thing

2. Dry County

3. Deadbeat Club

4. Love Shack

5. Junebug

6. Roam

7. Bushfire

8. Channel Z

9. Topaz

10. Follow Your Bliss

x

Track List: Whammy

1. Legal Tender

2. Whammy Kiss

3. Song For A Future Generation

4. Butterbean

5. Trism

6. Queen Of Las Vegas

7. Moon 83

8. Big Bird

9. Work That Skirt

x

Track List: Wild Planet

1. Party Out of Bounds

2. Dirty Back Road

3. Runnin' Around

4. Give Me Back My Man

5. Private Idaho

6. Devil in My Car

7. Quiche Lorraine

8. Strobe Light

9. 53 Miles West of Venus

x

Track List: Funplex (Radio Single)

1. Funplex

x

Track List: Live In London 2013

1. Planet Claire (Live)

2. Mesopotamia (Live)

3. Private Idaho (Live)

4. Lava (Live)

5. Dance This Mess Around (Live)

6. Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland (Live)

7. Roam (Live)

8. Legal Tender (Live)

9. Love In The Year 3000 (Live)

10. Is That You Mo-Dean? (Live)

11. 60606-842 (Live)

12. Whammy (Live)

13. Love Shack (Live)

14. Party Out Of Bounds (Live)

15. Rock Lobster (Live)

x

Track List: Live! 8-24-1979

1. 52 Girls (With Intro) (Live! 8-24-1979)

2. 606-0842 (Live! 8-24-1979)

3. Lava (Live! 8-24-1979)

4. Private Idaho (Live! 8-24-1979)

5. Devil In My Car (Live! 8-24-1979)

6. Dance This Mess Around (Live! 8-24-1979)

7. Runnin' Around (Live! 8-24-1979)

8. Rock Lobster (With Encore Outro) (Live! 8-24-1979)

9. Strobe Light (Live! 8-24-1979)

x

Track List: The B-52's

1. Planet Claire

2. 52 Girls

3. Dance This Mess Around

4. Rock Lobster

5. Lava

6. There's A Moon In The Sky (Called The Moon)

7. Hero Worship

8. 6060-842

9. Downtown

Comments

Report as inappropriate
Catchy melodies.
Report as inappropriate
I like Juliet of the Spirits, Hot Corner, & Funplex songs, too. Anyone else?
Report as inappropriate
Rock Lobster! Love that song!
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accountspand o r a
The author of this write-up needs to include their Whammy album. It was much overlooked, but had great songs on it.
Report as inappropriate
kewguys
Summer of Love is a very fun song
Report as inappropriate
I wonder who would get a bigger laugh: The Clash finding out they're similar to the B-52's, or the B-52's learning that they're similar to the Clash. Love Shack Calling?
Report as inappropriate
bikeday13
B-52s music makes me think that this is what they would play at a party exclusively for monsters.
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rwbuckman
The bio completely leaves out Whammy! Strange.
Report as inappropriate
Absolutely love them, saw them with the go go's & psychedelic furs, great show!
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timothygrang e r
Saw them in Athens when I was in college ... and many years later in Las Vegas when they opened for The Pretenders ... always a favorite!
Report as inappropriate
CLASSIC!!!!!
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johnpertzbor n
Popular club dance song at the University of Wisconsin when I attended in 1978-82. Not sure I should relive those dance moves; my head may separate from my neck..
Report as inappropriate
milosdad
This might be trite to say but their music is timeless. I'm in my 50's and I still get pumped when I hear Rock Lobster!
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I'm 13
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I'm 49 and Rock Lobster was my high-school jam of choice. Others were into HAIR BANDS and that I couldn't stand. Only the cool (in our eyes), liked the B52s. LOVE YUM!
Report as inappropriate
I'm 15 and I love these guys, my dad would always play their old albums when I was a kid
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I'm 24
Report as inappropriate
I'm 43and was jamming them since I was 12 ��
Report as inappropriate
I am 50 years old jamming them since I was 19 they rock
Report as inappropriate
DITTO raulm1961 (B52's are awesome just like most of New Wave music was also great. I was in my 30's back then. Great period for alternative music.)
Report as inappropriate
Fred is super funny
Report as inappropriate
Hold on because we have Venus and rock lobster,nobo d y gets it, wow,o hey I forget quiche la poodle
Report as inappropriate
B52's are awesome just like most of New Wave music was also great. I was in my 20's back then. Great period for alternative music.
Report as inappropriate
moleculematt
I love rock lobster
Report as inappropriate
The world is gone insane,but lucky for me I have quiche lapoodle,roc k lobster and luv shack
Report as inappropriate
That would be my childhood home,with venus as my my mother ,the only!!!!!!!! ! ! ! ! !
Report as inappropriate
Wow I forgot about quiche la poodle
Report as inappropriate
iobdennis
me too! can't wait!
Report as inappropriate
Going to see them perform tonight!
Report as inappropriate
Love planet Claire,every time I hear this I am back in my first apartment,la v a lamps vodka in the freezer x in the candy jar and let's not forget the rock lobster bathroom
Report as inappropriate
Tin roof..... Rusted
Report as inappropriate
So glad my mom was an 80's chick! Or else I wouldn't know who the b-52's are.
Report as inappropriate
We'll dance in the garden of torn sheets in the rain!!! We're the deadbeat club.
Report as inappropriate
saw them Halloween back in the day great show and memoirs not many shows like that now
Report as inappropriate
Love,Give Me Back My Man & Planet Clair the first song I ever heard by them
Report as inappropriate
I wouldn't bet on it Mike.
Report as inappropriate
Will music ever be this fun, again?
Report as inappropriate
Channel Z is my favorite.
Report as inappropriate
I love them.
Report as inappropriate
Love Shack - great video, dance tune. Gives me an auto high.
Report as inappropriate
melinda.odon n e l l 5
Saw them a couple times in early eighties, great band.
Report as inappropriate
love shack
Report as inappropriate
You know...you want me to too two...you know you love do or dew or du....you want me to drop one
Report as inappropriate
What is keeping The B-52's out of the Hall?

A) Idiocy
B) Ignorance
C) Gimmickiness
D) Campiness
Report as inappropriate
Hardly a mention of Kate Pierson who worked with many other artists, including Iggy Pop with who she sang Candy
Report as inappropriate
Reminds me of my Marine Corps days
Report as inappropriate
Look! It's a bikini whale!
Report as inappropriate
Extremely underrated band. Early b52s kicked major a**. Check out the black and white live videos on YouTube. Tight band. Great vocals. 1 of the us top bands . period.
Report as inappropriate
B-52`s are great. Unlike any other band ever!
Report as inappropriate
I love Kate and Cindy's harmony. Unlike any other band.
Show more

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