In 1989, to promote their fifth studio album, Cosmic Thing
, the B-52s took MTV viewers on a tour of the city where they formed: Athens, Georgia ((sadly, without guitarist Ricky Wilson who died of AIDS in 1985).
They began at the now-defunct Bluebird Cafe, formerly named the Eldorado, a vegetarian eatery where Fred Schneider used to wait tables.
From there, they continued their Athens excursion, first from the back of a convertible and then by walking the streets.
As the story goes, the band formed in October of 1976 after drinking many Flaming Volcanos at Hunan, one of the few Chinese restaurants in town. After drinks, they had their first of many jam sessions, according to this 1980 Rolling Stone article:
"So after the meal we went over to this friend's house," Kate [Pierson] continues. "And we just started playing these instruments."
The song they wrote that night was called "Killer Bees." "It's about a bus being chased by killer bees," Ricky [Wilson] explains. "It runs off into a river, and all the people get eaten by piranhas. And then the killer bees swarm into a theater, where these people are watching a movie, and they attack them. It's a true story."
The method of composition the band used that night — Ricky and Keith jamming on a musical idea and Fred, Kate and Cindy improvising lyrics — is the one the B-52's still employ. The jams, which often last several hours, are recorded on tape, and then Ricky arranges the material into a three- or four-minute song after studying the recorded havoc. "It's like stream of consciousness," Fred says...
Inspired by that first session, the B-52's began rehearsing, occasionally at Kate's farm, but more frequently in a bloodletting room in an old funeral home...
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