- The B-52s are from Athens, Georgia and was formed in 1976. The group was named after a beehive hairstyle resembling a jet nose. The girls in the group would frequently wear beehive wigs during the early period of their performances.
- The origin of the group started after the original members, Ricky Wilson, Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland and Fred Schneider, shared a giant cocktail called a Flaming Volcano at a Chinese restaurant. After sharing their drink, they set up a jam session that night and soon played their first gig at a Valentine’s Day party.
- There are actually two official spellings of the B-52’s, one with the apostrophe and one without. Up until last year, the apostrophe was required, but they dropped it for the release of their album Funplex. Now both forms are considered correct.
- By 1978, the group released their first single, “Rock Lobster,” which helped them develop an underground following. They were soon performing at CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City in New York City.
- Their first album proved to be quite successful in the UK and the group performed in to a packed audience in London the next year. Among those in attendance were Joe Jackson and the members of Scritti Politti.
- The group has performed twice on Saturday Night Live. Once in 1980 with host Teri Garr and once ten years later with host Alec Baldwin.
Photo by kkasarda [Flickr]
- In 1982, the band released an EP with David Byrne of the Talking Heads. A full album was planned, but never was completed, so the Mesopotamia EP featured the songs that were recorded all the way.
The record Whammy! was initially released with the song “Don’t Worry,” however the song had to be removed from further pressings due to copyright issues with Yoko Ono.
- Fred Schneider released a solo album in 1984, featuring band members Kate Pierson and Ricky Wilson. This album featured a song called “Monster” about the creature living in his pants. The video for “Monster” contained appearances by RuPaul, Keith Haring and Tina Weymouth of the Talking Heads. He released a second solo album in 1996.
- In 1985, the B-52’s were working on a new album called Bouncing Off the Satellites, when Ricky Wilson, the group’s guitarist and brother to singer Cindy Wilson, died. The death was originally said to be caused by cancer, but was actually AIDS-related. Everyone in the group was severely affected by the death, particularly his sister, Cindy. As a result, everyone temporarily parted ways to deal with the loss.
- When the group re-formed three years later, they began working on the album Cosmic Thing, which ended up being their most commercially successful album.
- The song “(Shake That) Cosmic Thing” was the first single on Cosmic Thing and was used as one of the main songs on the movie Earth Girls Are Easy.
Image by doogemeister [Flickr]
- The second single from that album, “Love Shack,” has become the group’s most famous tune. RuPaul was in the video for the song. Later they re-recorded the song with slightly different lyrics (“Glove Slap”) for The Simpsons.
- The video for the song “Deadbeat Club” featured an appearance by Michael Stipe of R.E.M., who was from Athens, Georgia like the rest of the group.
- Kate Pierson sang in Iggy Pop’s song “Candy” and the track was his only commercial success. She also sang on R.E.M.’s songs “Shiny Happy People” and “Me in Honey.”
- Cindy Wilson also lent her vocals to a few songs from the group Martini Ranch who was headed by the actor Bill Paxton.
- In the early 1990’s Cindy Wilson took time away from the band to be with her family and the group released the album, Good Stuff, as a trio. This album was one of the band’s most political albums although the members had dedicated time and energy to a variety of causes throughout their career.
- Frank Schneider lent his vocal stylings to the song “Bride of Frankenstein” on Elvira’s 1994 album Elvira Presents, Monster Hits. Later on, he performed with Sleater-Kinney on a cover of the song “Angry Inch” from the movie Hedwig And The Angry Inch.
- In 1994, the group appeared in the live-action movie of The Flintstones, acting as the BC-52’s, and they also sang the title track, “Meet The Flintstones.” The same year, they also recorded the theme for Nickelodeon’s Rocko’s Modern Life.
- The group recorded the song “The Chosen One” for the Pokemon 2000 movie, the theme for Scooby-Doo and The Cyber Chase and later played the song “Orange You Glad It’s Summer” for a Target commercial.
- The Maryland Ensemble Theatre of Fredrick, MD, created a musical based on the B-52’s music. The piece is called Planet Claire and involves a girl named Claire being transported to Planet Topaz where she meets aliens very similar to people she knows back on Earth. The first performance occurred in 2002 and it was quite a success, leading to a second production by the Baltimore Theatre Project in 2004.
- Last year, the group released Funplex, their first full album in over sixteen years. Exclusive, limited-edition copies signed by the group were sold at Newbury Comics and FYE.