Roadrunner Records - Slipknot's hard-hitting, aggressive metal anthems are getting…
- Posted on Mar 16th 2010 3:00PM by Pat Pemberton
"Fred had mentioned to a good friend of ours, 'We have a band,'" guitarist Keith Strickland tells Spinner. "We did, but we didn't really think of it like that. And she said, 'Oh, I'm having a Valentine's Day party -- do you want to play?'"
While the B-52s would later become known as a party band, at that point they'd never performed at one. So they worked up six songs for that first gig. "Really, every song except for one ended up on our first album," Strickland says.
Of course, the band needed a name for the gig, yet they had spent weeks trying to come up with one, ditching suggestions like the Attack Elephants, the Tinatrons and the Terrible Flies.
"Around that time, I had this dream where there was this little lounge band playing like at a Holiday Inn, and I heard somebody whisper that they were called the B-52s," Strickland says. " I woke up and thought, 'Well, that's kind of a catchy name.'"
The party was a hit, and the band decided to shoot for a gig in New York City, as some friends had done. Their first was at Max's Kansas City.
"The first time we played Max's, we didn't even ask if they wanted us back," Schneider says. "We were so excited, we felt like we had done it. We'd made it, you know?"
But the group -- which also included Kate Pierson and sibling duo Cindy and Ricky Wilson -- was asked to return. Soon, the band found itself commuting hundreds of miles for regular gigs.
"We would have to drive Ricky and Cindy's parents' station wagon to New York with our opening act with all our equipment, stay at the hotel, drive and set up our equipment, put it back and drive 800 miles back to Georgia," Schneider says.
On the advice of their manager, the band eventually moved to New York.
"That was weird because we all lived together and worked together, and it was not a good idea," Schneider says. "We all got apartments real fast."
Musically, the band is known for hits like 'Rock Lobster,' 'Roam' and 'Love Shack,' but the B-52s have also had a reputation for outlandish fashions, particularly from Pierson, Cindy Wilson and Schneider.
"In the early days, I always thought it was kind of an interesting balance, some of us being more outrageous than the others," Strickland says. "It just created this depth, I thought, to the group. Ricky and I would wear button-down shirts and corduroy pants -- sort of a collegiate look."
The band's biggest fashion statement was the bouffant wigs Pierson and Cindy Wilson wore. Those wigs simulated a southern hairstyle called a B-52. While many assume the band's name derives from the bomber plane, it actually refers to the hairstyle -- as it did in Strickland's dream.
"Friends of ours would refer to bouffants as B-52s," Strickland said. "So we figured if Kate and Cindy wore B-52 bouffants, we could just say, 'It's the hairdos.'"