April 27, 1948– Catherine Elizabeth Pierson
“There’s a whole split personality thing of being a farm girl and a rock and roll girl.”
The B-52s have worked hard to earn the title of the “World’s Greatest PartyBand”. Yet, they modestly call themselves a “tacky little dance band from Athens, Georgia”.
They dared to be different and way out there long before Lady Gaga. This band welcomed along everyone else who wanted to be at a dance party at a love shack. They have always been embraced by The Gays. Decades before Born This Way, the B-52s had a little ditty called Junebug with lyrics that include:
“Well, don’t you listen to what they say/We’re a little different anyway/Ain’t it the truth, uh huh.”
Following a night of drinking at an Athens Chinese restaurant in October 1976, a group of friends formed The B-52s. They named themselves after Southern slang term for big bouffant hairdos, not the bomb dropping aircraft. The band soon attracted an ardent following, becoming the talk of Athens.
The band’s first gig came in 1977 at a friend’s Valentine’s Day party, but the B-52s would soon move on to bigger venues, frequently making weekend trips to NYC to perform. They were soon doing gigs around NYC, including at CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, sometimes on the same bill with The Ramones, Television, and Blondie. They were able to build a reputation as the next big thing. Looking back at the B-52s’ rise to stardom, Pierson says,
“We were in a vacuum, because we were always driving, so we didn’t really have a sense about how our audience was building. We played Harrah’s one time, and we were looking out the window of the dressing room, and Ricky said, ‘What are those people standing around in line down there?’ And someone said, ‘That’s your line for people waiting to get in’. That was the first moment I was like, ‘Oh my god, we’re rock stars’.”
Their self-titled debut album sold more than 500,000 copies and spawned the hits Rock Lobster and 52 Girls. The B-52s continue to take their dance party music revolution all the way into the 21st century. They show no signs of slowing down. 40 years and over 30 million album sales later, the B-52s are still going strong. They kids are touring all over the USA this summer.
The band’s cool mix of punk, new wave and surf rock certainly kept me dancing in the late 1970s, 1980s, and beyond. Getting an old guy up on his feet and dancing is really something. That accomplishment would not have been possible without the late, great Ricky Wilson (God rest his soul), Keith Strickland, Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, and today’s birthday girl, Kate Pierson.
Three members of B-52s’ quartet are out and proud gay people, including Pierson. She continues to give us style, wit, fun retro-cool with her music and her fashion. Pierson has also worked with R.E.M., Iggy Pop, and she was one of the members of NiNa, a band that achieved huge success in Japan in the 1990s.
In her downtime, Pierson operates two little motels, Kate’s Lazy Meadow, in the Catskills, and Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel in the Mojave Desert, along with her companion of 15 years, Monica Coleman. Pierson and Coleman were married in a ceremony attended by the B-52s in summer 2015.
In 2012, after reading a post on my blog about Pierson’s birthday, I ended up with an invitation from Kate herself, offering The Husband and me her house seats for a Portland gig and requesting that we meet backstage post-concert. It was a sexy shimmy shake of a summer evening. I had not danced that hard since the 1970s. Afterwards it was quite the thrill to hang out with this amazing woman, still dancing strong and looking fabulous. How cool is that?
The New Jersey native and Colman married in Hawaii. She is such an old fashioned girl. Coleman chose a dusty gold color dress and Pierson wore pink silk and tulle. The brides accessorized with traditional Hawaiian leis. Pierson also donned a flower crown. The guests included the other members of the B-52s, plus Pierson’s pal Sia and her husband Erik Anders Lang, who served as witnesses.
The B-52s are on tour again this summer. They play Austin City Limits Live at The Moody Theater on May 18th and they are close to my town of Portland when they do the Clark County Fair in Ridgefield, Washington on August 6. Here’s their summer tour schedule on their website so you can catch them too.
They will be back in my town with a concert at the Oregon Zoo on July 23 with English Beat on the bill. They will probably be stopping by your own Private Idaho this summer. Rock Your Lobster!
Pierson is a special friend of World Of Wonder Productions. Let’s all send her tons of love on her special day.