Chamblee54

The B 52’s

Posted in Undogegorized by chamblee54 on July 29, 2009

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There used to be a chinese restaurant, on the Atlanta Highway, called Hunan House. One night, a few people shared a flaming volcano, and formed a band. The b52’s played their first show at a valentines day party in 1977. They were named for a bouffant hairstyle, which resembled the front of a b52 airplane.

The b52’s were Ricky Wilson, his sister Cindy, Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider III, and Keith Strickland. The Wilsons and Mr. Strickland were from Athens. Miss Pierson and Mr. Schneider were from New Jersey.

Fred had lived in Atlanta before he moved to Athens. He stayed in an apartment on Monroe Drive, across from S&M clutch and brake company. PG knew some of his neighbors, and once rested his feet on a rug, formerly owned by Fred Schneider.

Somebody had connections, and The b52’s were playing shows in New York before long. They released a 45 on db records, “Rock Lobster” and “52 girls”. The first of the girls mentioned…there are only 23 named…is Effie. There was a famous whorehouse in Athens named Effies.

One night, they played a show at the Big Dipper, on Ponce de Leon Avenue. The Big Dipper was a former Maryland Fried Chicken, and is now a veterinary clinic. After the show, either Kate or Cindy was in the parking lot, talking to a local character named Beulah. As was his way, Beulah was talking about Mick Jagger this, Mick Jagger that. Finally, Kate had enough. ” Fuck Mick Jagger. One day Mick Jagger will come see me, me, me.”

The b52’s were a fun band. Ricky had an unusual style on guitar, and Kate played a farfisa organ. The girls always wore big hair wigs. Fred was somewhere up front singing.

On Labor Day, 1978, PG saw the b52’s in Piedmont Park. There was a third girl that day, Wendy, who wore an inflatable beach float, and danced. The only songs PG is sure they did were “Downtown” and “Rock Lobster”. A few months later, PG saw the b52’s at the Agora ballroom. The Brains opened.

Sometime in late 1979, the eponymous first album came out. It became a hit, with dance clubs all over playing “Planet Claire”, “Dance this mess around”, and “6060-842”. In the summer of 1980, PG talked with a former Athenian in a hostel in Cannon Beach, Oregon. He mentioned that Cindy was the only heterosexual in the band.

The years went by, and more albums were released. On October 12, 1985, Ricky Wilson died of AIDS. He is buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery, behind Sanford Stadium in Athens. He sold bus tickets at the Grayhound station in downtown Athens before he hit the bigtime.

The band continues to this day. At some point, “Love Shack” was released, and became a hit. It is probably the best known b52’s song today.

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5 Responses

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  1. Uncutbutch said, on July 30, 2009 at 10:25 am

    Thanks for the human history Piers… So much of the character of Atlanta is now lost.

  2. […] walked over to the Agora, and saw a few minutes of a show by Freddie Hubbard. In early 1979, the B 52s were on the verge of stardom. (Here is a nifty feature about the Atlanta local music scene in […]

  3. Beulah | Chamblee54 said, on September 25, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    […] stage name, not his birth name. One night, in a Ponce de Leon Avenue parking lot, a singer with the B52s cussed out Beulah. The story came to a sad ending in 1982, when Beulah met her maker. This was one […]

  4. The B-52s | Chamblee54 said, on July 18, 2015 at 8:32 am

    […] was released, and became a hit. It is probably the best known b52’s song today. This is a repost. Pictures are from The Library of […]

  5. […] walked over to the Agora, and saw a few minutes of a show by Freddie Hubbard. In early 1979, the B 52s were on the verge of stardom. (Here is a nifty feature about the Atlanta local music scene in […]


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