Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Feb 22nd 2010 4:00PM by Pat Pemberton
"It was very therapeutic once we started writing," Keith Strickland, the band's former drummer who took over Wilson's guitar duties in the late '80s, tells Spinner. "In some ways, it was a way to remember Ricky. We became closer because we had a strong awareness of how impermanent life is. Ricky died at 32. I was 32. It was a very young age to lose a friend."
As alternative rock began to gain steam among college campuses, the B-52s were riding high, but Wilson's death of AIDS in 1985 threatened to derail the band. Stunned by the loss, the B-52s simply stopped performing.
"We really felt that it was over with," Strickland says. Leaving the band's base in New York City, Strickland retreated to Woodstock, where he continued to write music.
"I would sit and close my eyes and imagine what Ricky would play on guitar," he says. "Not that I was trying to sound like him or that I knew I would sound like him. It was just sort of an inspiration for me and it was comforting."
A couple of years into the band's hiatus, he visited New York City, where he hooked up with bandmates Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson. While there, he played some of his music.
"Cindy said, 'Well, maybe we should start writing again,'" remembers Strickland, who is currently touring again with the B-52s. "I said, 'Well, if you want.' I was real sensitive to Cindy's feelings about that. It was really difficult for all of us but, of course, Cindy lost her brother and they were very, very close. I wouldn't have even made the suggestion."
Even though the band had lost a key member, friend and brother, Strickland says, its members took comfort in being with each other. Meanwhile, they created what would become the band's biggest album, with videos that would become ubiquitous on MTV. While the 1989 album was written in the wake of death, songs like 'Love Shack,' 'Roam' and 'Deadbeat Club' were noticeably upbeat, recalling the band's early years in Georgia.
"A friend of ours once described 'Cosmic Thing' as being similar to a funeral in New Orleans, where they have the coffin on the carriage and people are behind it, dancing and singing and playing instruments," Strickland says. "It's very celebratory and in some sense that's what 'Cosmic Thing' was. It's very -- I wouldn't say nostalgic -- but we drew on the images of our lives together in Athens."