Saturday, March 19, 2011
Ricky Wilson - born on this day in 1953 - was one of the founding members of The B-52's, a band whose sound was sorta punk and sorta New Wave but mostly lotsa fun; the band's early records, such as this one (their first), featured Wilson's buoyant guitar stylings, which were influenced by surf rock pioneers The Ventures.
Brother of bandmate Cindy Wilson, and along with the other two men in the band - Keith Strickland and Fred Schneider - openly gay, Wilson's untimely death in October 1985 from AIDS-related causes struck the band at the crucial mid-career point, scuttling their album Bouncing Off the Satellites (and its accompanying tour) and almost destroyed everything the five of them (including Kate Pierson) had worked so hard to achieve.
After a two-year hiatus in which Wilson battled depression (in the form of survivor's guilt) and Strickland taught himself to play guitar the way Wilson had once done, the band went on to release its magnum opus, the luminously loony album Cosmic Thing in 1989. Both a tribute to their fallen comrade and a triumph over adversity, it represents nothing less than a testament to the power of positive thinking.
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