The B-52's

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About The B-52's

Blending surf-rock tropes with ’50s kitsch imagery and a party vibe, The B-52’s were among the most distinctive New Wave bands to emerge in the late 1970s. Led by Fred Schneider’s animated vocal style, the band released a string of off-kilter singles, including “Rock Lobster,” “Private Idaho,” and “Love Shack.” • The Athens, Georgia, band is said to have formed in 1976 after the musicians shared a “flaming volcano” cocktail at a local Chinese restaurant. Jam sessions soon led to their first single, 1978’s “Rock Lobster,” an underground success that landed The B-52’s a gig at CBGB in New York. • The B-52’s recorded their 1979 self-titled debut LP in the Bahamas with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell producing. The album reached No. 59 on the Billboard 200 album chart and eventually went platinum with sales of more than a million copies. • The band’s second album, 1980’s Wild Planet, went Top 20 in the US. The LP included the single “Private Idaho,” which reached No. 5 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs chart and earned the band a thank-you in the credits to Gus Van Sant’s 1991 movie My Own Private Idaho. • Founding guitarist Ricky Wilson died of complications from AIDS in October 1985, after The B-52’s had finished recording their fourth album, 1986’s Bouncing Off the Satellites. The band didn’t tour behind the album, and the members agreed to a hiatus that lasted several years. • The B-52’s reached their commercial peak when they returned with their fifth album, 1989’s Cosmic Thing. On the strength of the hit singles “Love Shack” and “Roam” (both hit No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100), the album reached No. 4 and sold more than 4 million copies in the US. • After releasing Good Stuff in 1992, The B-52’s wouldn’t record another album until Funplex in 2008, though they did appear in the 1994 live-action movie The Flintstones as The BC-52’s, singing the title song.

Athens, GA, United States
October 1976
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