Cindy Wilson (born February 28, 1957)
The B-52’s were formed. Cindy Wilson, her older brother and guitarist Ricky Wilson, organist and vocalist Kate Pierson, drummer and percussionist Keith Strickland, and vocalist Fred Schneider played an impromptu musical jam session. After sharing a tropical Flaming Volcano drink at a local Chinese restaurant they later played their first concert in 1977 at a Valentine’s Day party for their friends.
Cindy Wilson and the others broke into the music world with their campy, ’60s retro band. Their 1979 debut album The B-52’s, yielded the hit singles “Rock Lobster” and “Planet Claire” and launched the band into stardom.
Ricky Wilson’s Death
On April 21, 1985, Cindy Wilson married Keith Bennett, a successful advertiser who was a longtime friend of the band and Ricky’s guitar tech on tour. Ricky Wilson died later that year, leaving her devastated.
Cindy Wilson took a sabbatical from the band in 1990 to concentrate on raising a family. During this time The B-52’s recorded and released the album Good Stuff as a trio of Pierson, Schneider and Strickland. During the live tour to promote the Good Stuff album in 1992 and 1993, Julee Cruise sang as a replacement for Wilson. Wilson rejoined The B-52’s in 1994. In 1998 she took part in recordings from which two new songs were selected to be included along with the band’s hit singles on the album Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation. Wilson then took maternity leave in 1999 (being replaced on tour by Gail Ann Dorsey), later rejoining the band in 2001 for regular touring of their greatest hits.
The B-52’s completed the album Funplex in 2007 and it was released in March 2008. Wilson co-wrote every song on the album with the three other band members. In all, she has co-written much of the band’s back catalogue, including “Dance This Mess Around”, “Private Idaho” and all of the Cosmic Thing album including hit singles “Love Shack” and “Roam”.
Her vocal efforts include the typical B-52’s “call-and-response” vocals with Schneider and/or Pierson, as well as her harmonies with Pierson on the band’s all-female songs such as “Roam”, “52 Girls”, “Cake”, “Legal Tender”, “Summer of Love” and “Juliet of the Spirits”. One of the band’s signature elements is the setup between the three vocalists. However, Wilson sings the greatest number of solo performances in the band, especially on their earlier albums. Examples of Cindy’s solo vocal performances in The B-52’s include “Hero Worship”, “Loveland”, “Nip It in the Bud”, “Girl from Ipanema Goes to Greenland”, “Ain’t It a Shame”, “She Brakes for Rainbows” and the live favorite “Give Me Back My Man”.
Cindy is the band’s bongosero, playing the bongos in regular live favorites “Planet Claire”, “Mesopotamia”, “Pump” and “Party Out of Bounds” as well as other songs such as “6060-842” and “Big Bird”. Less remarked is her guitar work; she played acoustic guitar in The Cindy Wilson Band, and made electric guitar contributions (alongside her brother Ricky) in the songs “There’s a Moon in the Sky (Called the Moon)” from The B-52’s first album and playing the guitar solo for “Nip It In the Bud” during the band’s 1982 Mesopotamia tour. She has stated that she was encouraged to play guitar by her brother, but experienced finger pain. Cindy briefly played a note or two on the keyboard during the band’s Whammy tour version of Private Idaho, and at Rock In Rio 1985. She also played an electronic drumkit on a commercial for the WE tv network.