April 27, 1948– Catherine Elizabeth Pierson
The B-52s have worked hard to earn the title of the “World’s Greatest Party Band”, yet they call themselves a “tacky little dance band from Athens, Georgia“.
They dared to be different & way out there long before Lady Gaga & they welcomed along everyone else who did the same. They were always embraced by The Gays. Decades before Born This Way, the B-52’s had a little ditty called Junebug:
“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 & named themselves after Southern slang for big bouffant hairdos, not the bomb dropping aircraft. The band soon attracted an ardent following, becoming the talk of Athens. They were soon doing gigs in NYC at CBGB, sometimes on the same bill with The Ramones, Television, & Blondie.
Their self-titled debut album sold more than 500,000 copies & spawned the hits Rock Lobster & 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. 39 years & over 30 million album sales later, the B-52s remain are still going strong. The band is playing a concert in NYC at Irving Plaza next month & here in my own Portland at the Oregon Zoo on the 46th anniversary of Stonewall, June 28th. The band’s cool mix of punk, new wave & surf rock certainly kept me dancing in the late 1970s & 1980s, & that accomplishment would not have been possible without Ricky Wilson (God rest his soul), Keith Strickland, Fred Schneider, Cindy Wilson, & today’s birthday girl, Kate Pierson.
Three members of B-52s’ quartet are out & proud gay people, including Pierson. She continues to give us style, wit, fun retro-cool with her music. Pierson has also worked with R.E.M., Iggy Pop, & was one of the members of NiNa, a band that achieved huge success in Japan in the 1990s.
In her down time, Pierson operates 2 little motels, Kate’s Lazy Meadow, in the Catskills, & Kate’s Lazy Desert Airstream Motel in the Mojave Desert, along with her partner of 13 years, Monica Coleman.
In 2012, after reading Music Critics studio headphone guide, I ended up with an invitation from Kate herself, offering The Husband & me her house seats for a Portland gig & asking that we meet backstage post-concert (see above.) 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. How cool is that? She has a new album out now (with songs co-written by Sia, btw) called Guitars and Microphones. Watch the video for it below… and Kate’s life fly by before your eyes.