Ricky Wilson (1953-1985), the lead guitarist for the B-52s, is one of the most prominent figures of Athens’ rich musical history.
Ricky Wilson, famous guitarist and founding member of the Athens-based band the B-52s, was born on March 19, 1953 in Athens, Georgia. Wilson and his bandmates formed the B-52s in 1977 after performing an impromptu jam session following drinks at a local Chinese restaurant. Some of the band’s most popular songs include “Love Shack,” “Rock Lobster,” “Planet Claire,” and “Private Idaho.” Ricky Wilson died on October 12, 1985 from AIDS/HIV-related complications. He did not live to enjoy the release of the band’s fourth album, Bouncing off the Satellites (1986). The band, devastated at his passing, did not tour to promote their album and entered an extended hiatus from music. Ricky’s contemporaries hailed him as one of the era’s best guitarists, and his loss robbed the band of one of its most creative members.