The music scene of Athens, Georgia has brought out their share of artists, some of which would go on to be known internationally including R.E.M., Danger Mouse and Widespread Panic. But another band who hails from that city, would go on to become one of the most influential acts in the New Wave genre. That band is the B-52s.
Formed in 1976, the band would be noted for mixing elements of rockabilly, surf music and dance into their New wave sound. In 1979, they released their self-titled debut, which despite peaking at number 59 on the charts, was certified platinum and is regarded as one of the greatest albums not only in alternative music, but of all time. Equally notable was the album’s hit “Rock Lobster”, which at one point inspired John Lennon (who at the time was on hiatus) to begin recording again.
The B-52s entered the 1980s with two top forty gold albums, Wild Planet (1980) and Whammy! (1983). Among the notable singles from that period included “Private Idaho” and “Legal Tender”. In 1985, tragedy struck with the death of guitarist Ricky Wilson, which initially sent a cloud of doubt to the band, as it was witnessed on the 1986 album Bouncing off the Satellites, which was a critical and commercial disappointment.
But in 1989, the B-52s bounced back in a big way. Continuing as a foursome, they released the album Cosmic Thing, which would sell over four million copies, and include the hits “Channel Z”, “Roam”, and of course “Love Shack”. After that commercial breakthrough, two more albums would follow, including 1992’s Good Stuff and 2008’s Funplex. The B-52s are just one of the bands who would influence the alternative rock sound in the 1990s and beyond, and they continue (minus original member Keith Strickland) to tour to this day.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: The B-52s, eligible since 2004.