The B-52's

June 26, 1998|By KATE COLEMAN

The B-52's The B-52's

It was 1967 at Shore Regional High School in West Long Branch, N.J.

The drama club performed the musical "Kiss Me Kate."

I was Kate.

Fred Schneider - who would become the outrageous and, quite frankly, often goofy frontman for The B-52's - was in the chorus.

--cont from lifestyle--

The next year we did "West Side Story."

I was Maria.

Schneider was in the chorus.

What happened?


I know how I got where I am, but how did Schneider, a person I remember as a nice, freckle-faced boy - a shy boy, for goodness sake - get from there to "Planet Claire" and "Channel Z"?

How did he become the no-holds-barred lead singer of the "post punk" pioneering party band that will perform at Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday?

It has been 30 years since I've seen him.

I have wondered about the phenomenon of Schneider since the early '90s when I saw him rocking in the "Love Shack" video on MTV. How did he go from chorus boy to rock star, from the Jersey Shore to Radio City Music Hall?

I had hoped to ask him.

I want to know if he learned to write the double-entendres of "Good Stuff" in our teacher Frank Lawyer's English classes. Do "Rock Lobster" and the surf rhythms critics hear in the music have their origins on the Sea Bright beach?

I got word that he would talk to me, but rock stars' schedules being what they are, we couldn't find time to talk before my deadline.

The B-52's have done the Rosie O'Donnell Show and were slated for a spot on Jay Leno.

The group was at VH1 all day Tuesday. A 32-city national Time Capsule tour blasted off June 18, in Holmdel, N.J.

The man is busy.

I understand.

The B-52's began as a "low-rent lark" in Athens, Ga., following drinks at a Chinese restaurant in October 1976.

That "Party Out Of Bounds" led Schneider, Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland and siblings Cindy and Ricky Wilson to their first gig at a friend's house on Valentine's Day 1977.

The group's name comes from Southern slang for exaggerated bouffant hairdos. The B-52's started taking weekend road trips to and from New York City. The group soon cut an album, "The B-52's," that sold half a million copies.

While my high school acquaintance was rocking with The B-52's, I was rocking my babies on a farm near Keedysville, barely aware of the "burgeoning early '80s New Wave movement" they were at the core of.

In about 20 years, The B-52's have sold 20 million albums.

It hasn't been all fun and games.

Guitarist Ricky Wilson died from AIDS in 1985, and the future of the band was in jeopardy, according to information from The B-52's record label.

The group emerged from mourning with "Cosmic Thing" in 1989, its greatest commercial success.

After constant touring, Cindy Wilson amicably left the band, and the remaining three released "Good Stuff" in 1992, an album promoting the environmental, AIDS and animal rights causes for which they had worked for years.

The group recorded a cover of "Meet the Flintstones" for the 1994 movie, and Schneider released a solo "Just ... Fred" in 1996.

Cindy Wilson came back to help write and record "Debbie" and "Hallucinating Pluto," two new cuts on the otherwise greatest hits CD, "Time Capsule: Songs for a Future Generation."

Saturday's performance in Columbia, Md., is part of the tour that reunites the four original band members for the first time in nearly 10 years.

Although my official high school reunion is in Jersey in July, I hope to have a mini-reunion with Schneider backstage Saturday night.

I want the chance to talk to a guy I used to know who has journeyed as far as the Mo-Dean of The B-52's song:

"Well it had been 987 years in outer space time when I got back

"Couldn't seem to find any of my friends to tell my interesting stories to ..."

I, a person who can relate to feeling like an "interdimensional outer space being," am eager to hear some of Schneider's interesting stories. I can't wait to see him do his "cosmic thing."

The B-52's and The Pretenders with Royal Crown Revue

  • Where: Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Md.
  • When: Saturday, June 27, 8 p.m.
  • Tickets: $35 pavilion, $25 lawn

Tickets are available at the box office the day of the show from noon until the end of intermission, and a per ticket parking charge will be added.

In addition, tickets can be purchased at ProTix outlets, including Waxie Maxie's in Frederick Towne Mall on U.S. 40 west in Frederick, Md. Tickets must be purchased with cash, and hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Service charges will be added.

To charge ProTix by phone, call 1-800-955-5566. Service charges will be added.

If you go: Take Interstate 70 east to U.S. 29 south. Go 5 miles to South Entrance Road. Take first left into Merriweather's parking lot.

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