A Rockapaedia Obituary
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Ricky Wilson died aged thirty-two from AIDs on 12th October, 1985 in the Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, in New York City, United States of America. He was later buried in Oconee Hill Cemetery in Athens, Georgia, U.S.A..
Ricky Wilson was born on 19th March, 1953 in Athens, Georgia U.S.A. and at an early age he developed an interest in music, and learned how to play folk guitar from a television programme. Upon entering high-school, Ricky upgraded to a Silvertone guitar and, to tape his music, bought a two-track tape recorder with money earned from a summer job at the local landfill.
Around the middle of 1969, Ricky Wilson met former Comer resident Keith Strickland at a local head shop, The Looking Glass, and the two shared common interests in music and Eastern mysticist culture and quickly became friends. Ricky Wilson quietly came out as gay to Strickland while the two were in their teens, becoming the first member of the band to do so. At this time both Ricky Wilson and Keith Strickland collaborated in writing and performing music, loosely calling themselves Loon, and aspired to perform live.
From 1969 to 1971, Ricky Wilson and Keith Strickland collaborated with high school friends Pete Love of Louisville and Athens native Owen Scott, in performing together as the four-member band Black Narcissus. Upon graduation from the University of Georgia in 1976, Ricky Wilson kept in touch with Keith Strickland and they toured Europe, eventually returning and taking jobs at the Southeastern Stages bus station in Athens, Georgia where Keith's father was manager.
In late 1976, Keith Strickland and Ricky Wilson returned to Athens in search of further employment. The two joined the B-52's when they and Ricky Wilson's sister Cindy, Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider of local protest band The Sun-Donuts, formed the group in an impromptu musical practice session after sharing a tropical flaming volcano drink at a Chinese restaurant. They played their first concert in 1977 at a Valentine's Day party for friends. The band's quirky take on the new wave sound of their era was a combination of dance and surf music set apart by the unusual guitar tunings used by Ricky Wilson.
Ricky Wilson cited various children's records, The Mamas & the Papas, and Esquerita and the Voola as sources of inspiration in his musical career. Ricky Wilson also played the guitar on the song "Breakin' In My Heart" on Tom Verlaine's self-titled debut album.
In 1983, during recording sessions for the band's third studio album "Whammy!", Ricky discovered he had contracted HIV and confided his illness to Keith Strickland. In 1985, during recording for their album 'Bouncing Off the Satellites', Ricky Wilson's illness became more severe and both Keith Strickland and Kate Pierson have stated that despite this, he kept his illness secret from the other members of the band. In an interview, Kate Pierson stated that Ricky Wilson did so because he did not want anyone to worry about him or fuss about him.
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music: The B52's - The B52's (Full Album)