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Talking Heads' Chris Frantz recalls the "divine experience" of playing drums with The B-52s

St. Martin’s Press

Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz recently published a memoir titled Remain In Love, which focuses on his experiences with his famous band, his other musical endeavors and his romance with the group’s bassist — and his wife of 43 years — Tina Weymouth.

One highlight Frantz discusses in the book is the time that he and Weymouth were invited to perform with The B-52s at the 1985 Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at a time when Talking Heads frontman David Byrne didn’t want his group to tour anymore.

Chris recounted his and Tina’s B-52s experience to ABC Audio, noting that the couple were asked to be “extra hired guns” because the band’s drummer, Keith Strickland, wanted to play guitar and keyboardist Kate Pierson, who previously had handled the bass parts on the keys in concert, “wanted more freedom to dance around.”

The B-52s played two shows at Rock in Rio, and Frantz recalled that the crowd at each event was estimated at between 300,000 and 500,000.

“[I]t was…kind of a divine experience,” gushed Chris.

Reflecting on the shows, Frantz noted, “It is hard work, because…you can’t hear that great…There’s not just a nice little nightclub out there. There’s 300,000 people…But we delivered the goods, and it was a highly memorable experience. And The [B-52s] were so great.”

Chris also remembered that he and Weymouth got to stay in a fancy hotel on Rio’s Copacabana Beach, and that in the suite above them was another festival performer, Ozzy Osbourne, whose fans would chant his name incessantly until he acknowledged them from the balcony.

On a sad footnote, Frantz said the Rio shows were the last ever for founding B-52s guitarist Ricky Wilson, who died of AIDS later that year.

By Matt Friedlander
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