How The B-52's "Rock Lobster" Surfaced

The B-52's in 1978
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Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images

Tucked onto the end of the first side of The B-52's self-titled debut, released in the summer of 1979, is "Rock Lobster" - arguably the best first introduction to one of Athens, Georgia's most deliciously out-there bands.

A deft blend of cutting-edge post-punk and throwback kitsch-rock, lead singer Fred Schneider has said he got the idea for the tune from a club in Atlanta called 2001. "Instead of having a light show and fabulousness, it had a slide show," Schneider explained in 2016. "It was empty, and they showed pictures of puppies, babies and lobsters on a grill. And I thought, 'OK, 'Rock Lobster!' That's a good title for a song."

Devoted fans first heard "Rock Lobster" about a year before the band's album hit stores: an independent single was recorded and released in the spring of 1978, leading to underground buzz and the chance to play clubs along the East Coast. After The B-52's album hit stores, the song fared even better: the group performed it on Saturday Night Live at the beginning of 1980, and "Rock Lobster" eventually dented the middle of the Billboard Hot 100, settling at a peak of No. 57.

Other than the band themselves, perhaps no artist may have been more deeply impacted by the track than John Lennon. The former Beatle legendarily heard the track while on holiday with his son Sean and recognized the vocals of singers Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson as a tribute to the avant-garde styling of his wife Yoko Ono. "It sounded just like Ono's music," he told Rolling Stone shortly before his tragic murder, "so I said to meself, 'It's time to get out the old axe and wake the wife up!'" Their album Double Fantasy ended his five-year hiatus from recording - now that's a fish story.

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