I’ve covered bands before which have been popular in the UK but are considered one hit wonders in other parts of the world (e.g. Dexys Midnight Runners) so now it’s time for one which many in the UK would consider a one hit wonder – The B-52’s.
In the UK, the song they are best known for is Love Shack, one of those tunes that gets put on for parties because it’s such a happy sounding song, yet is still quite rock ‘n’ roll in it’s way. Some may also remember that they provided a version of the theme song for the live action Flintstones movie, though technically they were called The BC-52’s for that…
Anyway, as with most in the UK it was Love Shack that was the first B-52’s song I had knowingly heard, but the band name wasn’t new to me. I had heard of them before as, being a big fan of the Commodore Amiga home computer, I had learnt that several models of this computer had the name of a B-52’s song printed on the motherboard. For example, the extremely popular Amiga 500 had Rock Lobster printed on it’s main board.
It wasn’t until I went to college (mid 1990’s) that I actually heard some more B-52’s songs. A friend had a couple of albums, so as well as finally getting to hear what Rock Lobster sounded like I also heard a number of other songs such as Planet Claire, Is That You Mo-Dean and Good Stuff.
I have to say I became a bit of a fan of their unique style, which is a kind of mix of rock ‘n’ roll, Beach Boys style surfer music with a bit of Sixties and Seventies thrown in for good measure. Their song titles tend to be a little odd it has to be said (and their lyrics even odder) but they’re generally quite light hearted and happy to listen too.
The band formed in 1976 and originally consisted of vocalist Fred Schneider (who has quite a unique sounding voice), brother and sister Ricky and Cindy Wilson (guitarist and vocalist respectively), Kate Pierson (keyboards) and drummer Keith Strickland. The name of the band came not from the famous bomber aircraft, but from a beehive type hairstyle (which did take it’s name from the aircraft).
The B-52’s are still playing today, although over the years they have taken a few breaks from their musical careers. One of the first of these came when Ricky died in 1985, which saw the surviving members take a break until 1989, when they reformed for the album Cosmic Thing.
In 1990 Cindy Wilson took time out to concentrate on raising a family, and in 1992 the remaining trio of Schneider, Pierson and Strickland released the album Good Stuff. Since then whilst the band has remained active it has taken until 2008 for them to release another album, Funplex, which has also seen them drop the apostrophe from the band name, meaning they are now actually The B-52s.