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Ricky Wilson (American musician): Wikis

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Ricky Wilson

Ricky Wilson.
Background information
Birth name Ricky Helton Wilson
Born March 19, 1953(1953-03-19)
Athens, Georgia
Died October 12, 1985 (aged 32)
Genres New Wave, rock, pop rock
Occupations Singer–songwriter, musician
Instruments Vocals,[note 1] bass, electric guitar
Years active 1973-1985
Labels Warner Bros., Reprise, Astralwerks
Associated acts The B-52s, Tom Verlaine, XTC
Website www.theb52s.com
Notable instruments
Mosrite

Ricky Helton Wilson (March 19, 1953 - October 12, 1985) was the original guitarist and a founding member of the rock band The B-52s.

Born in Athens, Georgia, he was the brother of fellow B-52s member Cindy Wilson. Like the other male members of the band, Wilson was quietly gay (his sexual orientation, like that of Keith and Fred, would not be public knowledge until the early 1990s).[1]

As a self-taught guitarist he created his own tunings, grouping the strings into a bass course (usually tuned to 5ths for strumming) and a treble course (often tuned in unison), removing the middle two strings entirely, though sometimes he played with five strings as well. A blue Mosrite so modified is visible on the back cover of the B-52s self-titled first album. Together with keyboard bass played by organist Kate Pierson, the band achieved a solid rock and roll sound without a bass guitar.

Contents

Early life

Musical career

Wilson originally joined The B-52s when he, his sister, Kate Pierson, Keith Strickland and Fred Schneider formed the group in an impromptu jam session after sharing a tropical Flaming Volcano drink at a Chinese restaurant. They played their first gig in 1977 at a Valentine's Day party for friends.[2][3] The band's quirky take on the New Wave sound of their era was a combination of dance and surf music set apart by the unusual guitar tunings used by Wilson.

Wilson also played the guitar on the song "Breakin' In My Heart" on the 1979 self-titled album by Tom Verlaine.

Illness and death

In 1985, after an absence from their musical careers, the band reformed to record Bouncing Off the Satellites. However, during the recording, Wilson had been suffering from AIDS/HIV-related health complications.[4] None of the other band members were aware of his illness.[5] In an interview, fellow band member Kate Pierson stated that Wilson had kept his illness secret from his fellow band members because he "did not want anyone to worry about him or fuss about him."[5] On October 12, 1985, Wilson finally succumbed to the illness, at the age of 32.[4] Devastated, the band went into seclusion and did not tour to promote the album.[6] Nevertheless, Bouncing Off the Satellites eventually reached 85 on the Billboard 200.[7] Cindy went into a deep depression after her brother's passing, while Keith retreated to Woodstock, New York, and Kate and Fred stayed in New York City. The band felt that it would be impossible to continue without Ricky.

Following Ricky's death, Keith Strickland, (originally the band's drummer), switched to playing guitar. The epitaph on Wilson's tombstone reads: "The breeze of grace is always blowing; set your sail to catch that breeze."

Filmography

Year Film Role Notes
1980 One Trick Pony Himself
1987 Athens, GA: Inside Out Himself Archive footage

Notes

  1. ^ Although Wilson usually played the bass and electric guitar during his period in The B-52s, he did several vocal performances on occasion, including "Theme for a Nude Beach", "Ain't It a Shame", and "Song for a Future Generation".

References

External links

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