B-52s

2014 B-52s

The B-52s are a motley quintet of Southerners based in Athens, Georgia. The band's name comes from the slang for the bouffant wigs that singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson wear as a sort of emblem of the band's style. The mile-high hair-dos are joined by band members Fred Schneider, Ricky Wilson, and Keith Strickland. Schneider pulled the band together in the mid-1970s. None of the band's members had much musical experience, but that didn't stop them from rocking colleges around their home base of Athens. Their first shows were generally accompanied by taped guitar and percussion until the guys honed their musical skills enough to play for themselves.

They bounced around from club to club trying to get their name and sound known, but their first paying gig did not come until after the release of their first single, 'Rock Lobster'. The B-52s then traveled to Max's Kansas City club for their first paid performance. Soon they were appearing regularly at CBGB's where they caught the attention of the New York press. In 1979 they had the experience and talent to release their first album. The self-titled album was a collection of bizarre tunes that made a splash at local clubs as dance music and was soon considered an underground hit.

Their newfound fame in the dance club scene helped their next album, Wild Planet, reach the Top 20 on the US album charts. In 1981 the B-52s released Party Mix, which was a collection of the material from their first two albums that had been reworked for mass appeal. In 1982 the band stepped away from their trademark humor to release Mesopotamia, which did not receive as much attention as their previous attempts. After the flop of Mesopotamia, the B-52s decided to go back to what they did best and released the manic and humorous Whammy! which moved the band's dance beats into the electronic age.

In 1984, headman Fred Schneider embarked on a solo effort, Fred Schneider and the Shake Society, but soon returned to his beloved B-52s and released Bouncing Off the Satellites in 1986. The band took a three-year break after the album's release to mourn the death of band member Ricky Wilson. His tragic death was thought to be of natural causes, but it was later discovered that Wilson suffered from AIDS. In 1989, one member short, the B-52s returned and released Cosmic Thing, which became their most commercially successful album to date. The album included hit singles like 'Love Shack', 'Roam', and 'Deadbeat Club'. After the rousing success of Cosmic Thing, Cindy Wilson decided to retire from the group's hectic touring schedule. The remaining trio pushed in and released Good Stuff in 1992. They were enlisted in 1993 to perform in the live-action version of The Flintstones.

Cindy Wilson couldn't stay away for long and she rejoined her band-mates in 1998 to tour and promote their release of Time Capsule, a compilation of their past hits. Tickets for the tour sold quickly. New fans came onboard when Cosmic Thing was released, and old fans still enjoyed the band's twist on alternative rock that they had grown to love in the 80s. The B-52s, now a quartet, still churn the audiences into a dancing frenzy with hits like 'Love Shack'.


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