A pair of authors are promising the first critical biography of The B-52s with their just-published new book on the iconic New Wave rockers who crashed out of the gate with “Rock Lobster,” nearly didn’t survive the death of a key member and were reborn with the surprise smash album Cosmic Thing.
The 268-page “The Story of the B-52s: Neon Side of Town,” by Scott Creney and Brigette Adair Herron, was published this month by Palgrave Macmillan, and is available now in paperback and digital editions.
The authors have their own histories in the Athens, Georgia, music scene that spawned The B-52s, as well as R.E.M., Pylon and more in the early 1980s. Their book traces the band’s trajectory out of Athens to New York City, through the death of guitarist Ricky Wilson from AIDS complications to the group’s resurrection via the monster hit “Love Shack” and up through this summer’s farewell shows.
The publisher describes “Neon Side of Town” this way:
“The book argues that The B-52s are much more significant political and musical influences on American society than their reputation as a silly party band suggests, and that their ongoing commitment to values including cooperation, mutual support, and using disruptive fun as a form of social change are an antidote to the neoliberalization sweeping both Athens and the rest of the Western world. For example, the book shows how the band synthesized influences from the modern artists displayed at the University of Georgia art museum, early queer activism on campus in the 1970s, and their experiences as queer people living through the AIDS crisis to create music that continues to be artistically and politically influential today.”
“Neon Side of Town” promises a deep analysis of The B-52s’ music and insights into the musicians — Fred Schneider, Kate Pierson, Cindy Wilson, Ricky Wilson and Keith Strickland — who wrote and performed some of the era’s best-loved songs, from “Planet Claire” to “Private Idaho” to “Summer of Love” to “Deadbeat Club.”
PREVIOUSLY ON SLICING UP EYEBALLS
- The B-52s’ ‘Cosmic Thing’ to receive 30th anniversary reissue with remixes, live set
- The B-52s tap OMD, Berlin for 40th anniversary North American tour this summer
- Cindy Wilson of The B-52s to release solo debut, tour this fall — hear 1st single ‘Mystic’
- The B-52s’ Kate Pierson goes solo on ‘Guitars and Microphones’ LP, debuts new single
- Vintage Video: The B-52s dance this mess around in 1983 West German TV performance
- Keith Strickland quits touring with The B-52’s: ‘My barnstorming days have come to an end’
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