Kate Pierson told Q magazine that it was Keith Strickland who came up with the band's name. She explained: "Keith thought of the name. He had a dream, like a vision of a little lounge band and they all played organs and had bouffant hairdos, and someone said, 'Look, it's the B-52s.' B-52 was slang for a nosecone-shaped hairdo, named after the bomber. We thought, This is a great name: It's a number and a letter, it's really different and snappy. But now there's this plan to prolong the life of the B-52 bomber, and we're lending our name to a campaign to stop it."
In 1985, Ricky Wilson (Cindy's brother) became one of the first prominent entertainers to die of AIDS. The band was devastated and didn't work together until 1987, at which point they got back together to write songs and jam. The long grieving process helped them move forward with upbeat material, resulting in Cosmic Thing, their most successful album. They never replaced Wilson; their drummer Keith Strickland switched to guitar, and touring musicians were used for live shows.
Until 2008, their band name was rendered "B-52's". The apostrophe shouldn't be there, as it's not a possessive, but when a friend designed the logo, it was included in the design and incorporated into their name. This grammar foul was corrected with the release of their Funplex album.
They didn't use a bass guitar (played by Sara Lee of Gang of Four) until their 1989 album Cosmic Thing
. But wait
, you say. What about "Rock Lobster"?
That famous bass riff came from a Korg synthesizer.
Cindy Wilson is the only member who is not a vegetarian.
The band is from Athens, Georgia, where R.E.M., The Black Crowes and Drive-By Truckers also formed.
There is no real leader of the group, and since every member was there from the start, they are all on equal footing. Ricky Wilson was their main songwriter and handled most of the logistics.
Pierson began a long-term relationship with the artist Tim Rollins in 1981. In 2003, she began dating Monica Coleman; in 2015, the couple were married.
All male members are openly gay. Strickland came out publicly in 1992 in Q magazine.