The Talking Heads perform "Burning Down the House."
Although the Talking Heads were a part of the original CBGB's lineup in the mid-1970's, they are most commonly associated with the transition between Punk and New Wave. By offering an alternative/artsy sound incorporating polyrhythmic, African drumming styles, synthesized rhythm and blues melodies, with quirky lyrics and vocals they stood apart from other punk bands that had a more stripped-down sound.
Lead vocalist and guitarist David Byrne (1952), drummer Chris Franz (1951), and bassist and keyboard player Tina Weymouth (1950), first formed in 1974 as a trio called The Artistics while attending the Rhode Island School of Design as art students. Within the year the band had decided to relocate to New York City, and as fate would have it ended up in an apartment just blocks away from the emerging CBGB's.
Their big break came in 1975 after opening there for the Ramones. They were almost immediately offered a contract with Sire Records but continued to develop their sound playing regularly at the emerging club before adding the fourth member, Jerry Harrison (1949), on keyboards, to record their debut album "1977," named for the year in which it was recorded.
In 1978, they began to work with the legendary producer Brian Eno, and at that time their work was characterized by extensive musical experimentation with both acoustic and electronic instruments. With their more clean-cut, preppie look, and their a-political, less nihilistic but more sarcastic lyrics, the Talking Heads separated themselves from the other Punk bands and foreshadowed the New Wave bands who followed in the 1980's.
Talking Heads successfully made the transition between Punk and New Wave in the 1980s by adding funk, world music, African percussion and an emphasis on electronic instruments. During the eleven years that they recorded, Talking Heads became a critically acclaimed band, and achieved some commercial success with several pop hits, before breaking up in 1991.
Byrne went on to a very successful solo career that heavily promoted world music, particularly Latin and Cuban genres. He is also a respected photographer, filmmaker, and directed most of the Talking Heads videos.
Page author: A.E.