PLANET SMASHERS OR ROCK LOBSTERS?
Those Ohio New Wavers are back, after years in the wilderness. But were the B52’s really any good, or just new wave chancers. Here’s some facts –you decide!
1) They formed in 1976 after a drunken night in a Chinese restaurant, and played their first gig in 1977 at their friends’ Valentines Day party.
2) Some models of the Amiga computer had the name of a B-52’s song written on their motherboard. For example, the Amiga 500 had “B52/ROCK LOBSTER” written on it.
3) They were one of John Lennon’s favourite bands after the release of their self-titled debut album in 1979.
4) There is a ‘Wizard of Oz’ style musical about The B-52’s, entitled ‘Planet Claire’. It is the story of a waitress working at the Love Shack who is transported to Planet Topaz where she meets aliens surprisingly similar to her friends back home.
5) They appeared as guest stars in an episode of ‘The Simpsons’ in season 11. Homer is challenging everyone to a duel with his glove, and so begins a montage to the tune of ‘Glove Slap’ (a parody of ‘Love Shack’).
6) They performed the title song on the 1994 live-action Flintstones movie as the B.C.-52’s.
7) They have been involved in a large number of collaborations, individually and as a band, with artists such as members of Devo, REM, The Ramones, Foo Fighters and Iggy Pop.
8) Vocalist Fred Schneider went on to do solo work, including an album with super-producer Steve Albini (who has worked with The Pixies and Nirvana, among many others).
9) In 1992 they released their most overtly political album, ‘Good Stuff’. Although they agreed they were primarily a band for entertainment, they thought it was good to get people ‘thinking and dancing’ at the same time.
10) In 1985, guitarist Ricky Wilson died. Initially there were mixed reports stating he died of natural causes or cancer, however later it emerged he had succumbed to AIDS. The band then campaigned about this, amongst other causes, in later years.
11) The band’s name comes from a particular beehive hairdo that is wrapped around, instead of teased, with an open “hole” in the top resembling the nose cone of the airplane of the same name. During their early years, wigs of that style were often worn by the band’s female singers Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson.
12) Drag artist RuPaul appeared in the music videos for ‘Love Shack’ and ‘Good Stuff’.
13) The song ‘Love Shack’ was inspired by a cabin around Athens, Georgia, complete with tin roof, where the band conceived ‘Rock Lobster’, a single from their first album. B-52’s singer Kate Pierson lived in the cabin in the 1970s, and the cabin existed until 2004, when it burned down in a fire.
14) Singer Kate Pierson claims that a psychic told her that their ‘Cosmic Thing’ album’s third single, ‘Roam’, would be a hit. It went to number 17 in the UK singles chart in May 1990.
15) The band’s first single ‘Rock Lobster’ is part of the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.
16) In the early 1980s, Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson and Debbie Harry collaborated with the Ramones on the song ‘Chop Suey’.
17) After a hiatus between 1994 and 1998, The B-52’s release a new album in April. ‘Funplex’ will be their first record of original material since 1992’s ‘Good Stuff’, and will contain 11 songs recorded in 2006 and 2007.
‘Funplex’ is out April 14th on EMI.
Here’s ten B-52’s songs to listen to in your love shack…
1. Love Shack
2. Rock Lobster
3. Planet Claire
4. (Meet The) Flintstones (as The BC-52’s)
6. Good Stuff
7. Channel Z
8. Give Me Back My Man
9. Channel Z
10. Tell It Like It T-I-Is