The B-52’s are an American New Wave/art-pop band from Athens that released three albums and an EP on Warner Bros. between 1979 and 1983, scoring hits with “Rock Lobster,” “Dance This Mess Around,” “Private Idaho,” “Give Me Back My Man,” “Legal Tender,” and “Song for a Future Generation.”

After the passing of guitarist and songwriter Ricky Wilson, they rebounded as a four-piece with one further Warner album and the hit “Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland.” After changing labels to Reprise, they issued two albums between 1989 and 1992, finding newfound fame with “Love Shack” and “Roam.” The band’s retro-futurist attire and cartoon-influenced songs set them apart from most of their contemporaries.

Members: Fred Schneider (vocals, keyboards, xylophone, percussion, toy piano), Kate Pierson (vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards), Keith Strickland (drums, percussion, guitar, bass, keyboards, marimba, sitar, vocals), Cindy Wilson (vocals, guitar, bongos, tambourine, 1976-90, 1998-present), Ricky Wilson (guitar, bass, keyboards, vocals, 1976-85)

The B-52’s formed in 1976 in Athens, Ga., during an impromptu jam between poet Fred Schneider, keyboardist/singer Kate Pierson, drummer Keith Strickland, guitarist Ricky Wilson and his younger sister, singer Cindy Wilson. They held the jam immediately after sharing a tropical flaming volcano drink at a nearby Chinese restaurant. They played their first concert in February 1977 for a Valentine’s Day party. In lieu of a bassist, Ricky removed a middle string on his guitar and picked between high and low strings.

Ricky Wilson first collaborated with Strickland in 1969, when they formed a musical duo called Loon. Months later, they teamed with fellow high school friends in the psych-rock quartet Black Narcissus, which performed for the next two years. After graduating from the University of Georgia, Wilson reconnected with Strickland and the two worked odd jobs before linking with Pierson and Schneider, who sang in a protest band called the Sun-Donuts.

The named their band The B-52’s after the cone-shaped version of the ’60s beehive hairdo, as worn by Pierson and Cindy Wilson. Their sound was a combination of late-’50s exotica, early ’60s surf rock, and late-’60s male/female harmony pop, combined with a presentation inspired by earlier eccentrics like tidal-haired ’50s rock n’ roller Esquerita. They assembled their band image with vintage clothing items from multiple decades, collected at thrift stores.

They issued their first single, the boingy “Rock Lobster” (b/w “52 Girls”), in April 1978 on local-press DB Records. The record sold out its 2,000-copy pressing, prompting the band to play in New York City, where their quirky brand of new wave set crowds alight at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City. Label scouts took notice and The B-52’s signed to Warner Bros. (Americas, Oceania) and Island (UK, Europe).

In late 1978, The B-52’s flew to Nassau, Bahamas, where they recorded their first album with Island founder Chris Blackwell acting as their producer.


  • The B-52’s (1979)
  • Wild Planet (1980)
  • Mesopotamia (EP, 1982)
  • Whammy! (1983)
  • Bouncing Off the Satellites (1986)
  • Cosmic Thing (1989)


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