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The B-52's

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Bio

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
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Albums by
The B-52's

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    15 songs

    On Air

    Live in London 2013

    10 songs

    On Air

    Good Stuff

    10 songs

    On Air

    Cosmic Thing

    10 songs

    On Air

    Bouncing Off the Satellites

    9 songs

    On Air

    Live! 8-24-1979

    9 songs

    On Air

    Whammy!

    9 songs

    On Air

    Wild Planet

    9 songs

    On Air

    The B-52's

    11 songs

    On Air

    Funplex

    5 songs

    On Air

    Rhino Hi-Five: The B-52's

    7 songs

    On Air

    Time Capsule - Mixes: Hallucinating Pluto

    2 songs

    On Air

    Roam

    2 songs

    On Air

    Love Shack

    2 songs

    On Air

    Rock Lobster

    3 songs

    On Air

    Funplex

    35 songs

    On Air

    Nude on the Moon: The B-52's Anthology

    5 songs

    On Air

    Time Capsule - Mixes: Summer of Love 98

    18 songs

    On Air

    Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation

    12 songs

    On Air

    Party Mix!/Mesopotamia

    4 songs

    On Air

    Juliet of the Spirits

    18 songs

    On Air

    With the Wild Crowd! Live in Athens, GA

    11 songs

    On Air

    Live On Studio Jam - WSAI FM Chicago 1 Jan 1978 (Live FM Radio Concert Remastered In Superb Fidelity)

    10 songs

    On Air

    Bouncing Off the Satellites

    9 songs

    On Air

    Wild Planet

See All Albums

Top Songs by
The B-52's

  1.   Song
    Popularity
  2.   Roam
  3.   Rock Lobster
  4.   Love Shack
  5.   Dance This Mess Around
  6.   Private Idaho
  7.   Strobe Light
  8.   52 Girls
  9.   Deadbeat Club
  10.   Planet Claire
  11.   Song for a Future Generation
  12.   Summer of Love
  13.   Devil in My Car
  14.   Quiche Lorraine
  15.   Party Out of Bounds
  16.   Legal Tender
  17.   Give Me Back My Man
  18.   Lava
  19.   Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland
  20.   Mesopotamia
  21.   Topaz
  22.   Bushfire
  23.   60606-842
  24.   Planet Caire
  25.   6060-842 (6060 842)
  26. See All Songs

Stations & Shows Featuring
The B-52's

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    New Wave Deep Dive

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    Arcade Fire: DNA

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    Great Songs You Forgot

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    Gwen Stefani: DNA

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    Adult Alternative

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