The B-52’s formed in Athens, Ga., in 1976, but its two most high-profile band members have Jersey roots: Fred Schneider was born in Newark and grew up in Belleville and then Long Branch; Kate Pierson was born in Weehawken and grew up in Rutherford.
Pierson, evidently, enjoyed her time in the Garden State much more.
“There was this incredible freedom. There were lots of kids on the street, and we all played together, all ages, boys and girls. We just sort of hung out. In Rutherford, there was a lot of open land and we could just run around,” she told the South Bergenite in 2013.
“We also had really good programs in school. I was really fortunate to have a teacher, Martha Micci, who was the music teacher at Rutherford High School and my piano teacher. Her husband was the first violinist in the New York Philharmonic. So we got to go and hear Leonard Bernstein’s Young People’s Concerts. We had another teacher who took us to a couple of Broadway plays. So I was very fortunate to grow up in this area.”
On the other hand, here’s what Schneider told The BPlot in 2010: “I went to Shore Regional High School (in West Long Branch) which I call ‘Bore Regional.’ I was teased mercilessly in school but could always win a war of words. I have always loved the written and spoken word. On my gravestone I want written ‘I’d rather be here than back in high school.’ ”
Oh, well. At least he has New Jersey to thank for his way with words.
Below is a great clip of the eccentic new wave band in 1980, performing its most famous song, “Rock Lobster,” at the Capitol Theatre in Passaic.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.