Pixies

This article is about the band named Pixies. For pixies of folklore, see pixie.

The Pixies are a band which toured and recorded in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then reunited in 2004 and began touring again. The band's lineup consists of Black Francis a.k.a. Frank Black (vocals, guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), Kim Deal (bass, vocals), and David Lovering (drums). Their style of music influenced many aspects of alternative rock throughout the 1990s. Most notable was their use of soft verses and hard choruses, which was later popularized by Nirvana.

History

The band was formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts by Joey Santiago and Black Francis (born Charles Thompson IV). Bassist Kim Deal joined the band after she responded to a classified ad Black Francis had placed which requested an unusual combination of musical influences. Reportedly, the ad asked for a bass player who liked The Mamas and the Papas and Husker Du.

They arrived at a name ("Pixies") by selecting an entry from the dictionary at random, and began playing shows in the Boston area.

During a concert with Throwing Muses, the band was noticed by Gary Smith, a producer at Fort Apache Studios. Smith became the band's manager and produced a 17 track demo (known as the "Purple Tape", publicly released in 2002). The demo fell into the hands of Ivo Watts-Russell, owner of 4AD, who signed the band. Eight tracks from the demo were selected for the Come on Pilgrim EP, the band's first release. It was followed by their first full-length album, Surfer Rosa in early 1988.

4AD was a British music label, and the notoriously rabid British music press immediately clutched the Pixies to their collective bosoms and refused to let go. The band remained unsigned in the US for a while, but after a foray up the UK pop charts and some inroads into American college rock stations, they were picked up by Elektra Records. For the remainder of their career, the Pixies remained large-scale stars in Britain and cult figures in the US.

Their sophomore album, Doolittle, featured three prominent singles: "Debaser," "Here Comes Your Man," and "Monkey Gone to Heaven." It was a top 10 hit in the UK and reached the top 100 in North America.

After Doolittle, Black Francis temporarily went solo, while Kim Deal formed The Breeders with Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and Deal's sister, Kelley. During this time, Black Francis limited Deal's contributions to the band; the first two albums had been partly written by Deal, but when Bossanova was released in 1990, all songs were by him. Deal was not pleased, and unilaterally announced an apparent break-up of the band on-stage during the following tour. The Pixies were at the height of their popularity, however, and while headlining at the Reading Festival in 1991, they played a highly enthusiastic version of "Debaser" which has become legendary among fans.

Break-up announcements notwithstanding, one more album was to follow. Trompe le Monde still featured little input from Deal and wasn't as critically regarded as their first few albums. Without telling anyone, Black Francis ended the band, and it wasn't until a year later that he faxed an official notice to the other members.

After the break-up

Black Francis renamed himself Frank Black, and released several solo albums. He then went on to form a band with Scott Boutier, Eric Drew, Rich Gilbert, David McGaffrey, and Dave Phillips called Frank Black and the Catholics. Deal returned to the Breeders, and scored a hit with "Cannonball" from that group's Last Splash in 1993. However, for several years they struggled to produce another album, mainly due to Kelley Deal's struggles with heroin. The album, Title TK, finally appeared in 2002, with only Kim and Kelley remaining from the previous Breeders lineup. Kim Deal has also recorded with The Amps. Lovering dropped back into obscurity, making occasional appearances as a "scientific phenomenalist", performing experiments on stage; he also drummed on one of Tanya Donelly's solo albums. Santiago has appeared on Frank Black's solo albums, writes music for FOX television, and has a band called The Martinis with his wife, Linda Mallari.

Musically, the Pixies were just slightly ahead of their time. Right at the moment they were imploding, Nirvana was recording Nevermind, the album that would break alternative rock into the mainstream. There are substantial parallels between the two groups' sounds and Kurt Cobain was known to have been a fan—in fact, in a Rolling Stone interview he claimed "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was his attempt to write a Pixies song. This revitalized some interest in the band after they were gone.

Reunion

In the 11 years since the band broke up, there were a number of rumors that would circulate regarding reunion tours. Roughly once a year on April Fool's Day someone would be led to believe that the band had re-united. It wasn't until 2004 when the Pixies would play their first "post-breakup" concert on April 13 at The Fine Line Music Cafe in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota and a 15 concert warmup tour of the western United States and Canada, culminating in the performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Tickets for shows on this tour often sold out minutes after going on sale despite some rather moderately sized Canadian cities such as Winnipeg and Regina being stops. It is rumoured that these dates hold the world record for fastest selling shows ever.

This was followed by a three-month world tour and four-month return to the US, ending on December 18 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City (see tour dates (http://www.pixiesmusic.com/live_04.php) for detailed information).

In spring 2004, 4AD released Wave of Mutilation: The Best of the Pixies and a companion DVD which features a full concert, the music videos, and a documentary on the Pixies. A "new retrospective compilation CD" is set for release in the near future. Many of the reunion shows, including that April 13 show in Minneapolis, were sold by DiscLive (http://pixies.disclive.com/) in sets of 1,000. The entire edition size has now sold out.

Discography

Studio Albums

Compilations

Samples

  • Download sample of "Holiday Song" from Come on Pilgrim

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The entire edition size has now sold out. And Butera and the Witnesses also continue to tour. Many of the reunion shows, including that April 13 show in Minneapolis, were sold by DiscLive (http://pixies.disclive.com/) in sets of 1,000. The Prima-Butera arrangements and recordings continued to be copied by younger musicians, including David Lee Roth, who covered his medley of "Just a Gigolo"/"I Ain't Got Nobody" in the 1980s, and Brian Setzer, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and other nouveau swing bands of the 1990s, covering such Prima standards as "Jump and Jive and Wail". A "new retrospective compilation CD" is set for release in the near future. He is interred in the Metairie Cemetery in New Orleans. In spring 2004, 4AD released Wave of Mutilation: The Best of the Pixies and a companion DVD which features a full concert, the music videos, and a documentary on the Pixies. He never recovered, and died three years later.

This was followed by a three-month world tour and four-month return to the US, ending on December 18 at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City (see tour dates (http://www.pixiesmusic.com/live_04.php) for detailed information). In 1975 he went into a coma following surgery to remove a brain tumor. It is rumoured that these dates hold the world record for fastest selling shows ever. Prima performed shows in Las Vegas throughout the 1950s and '60s, before returning to New Orleans in the early 1970s. Tickets for shows on this tour often sold out minutes after going on sale despite some rather moderately sized Canadian cities such as Winnipeg and Regina being stops. "I Wanna Be Like You" was a hit song from the movie that led to the recording of two albums with Phil Harris: The Jungle Book and More Jungle Book, on Disneyland Records. It wasn't until 2004 when the Pixies would play their first "post-breakup" concert on April 13 at The Fine Line Music Cafe in downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota and a 15 concert warmup tour of the western United States and Canada, culminating in the performance at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. In 1967, Prima made a memorable contribution to the Walt Disney film The Jungle Book, as the voice of the raucous orangutan King Louie.

Roughly once a year on April Fool's Day someone would be led to believe that the band had re-united. (Smith was of Cherokee descent; Cher was Armenian.) Prima, Smith, and Butera put on a live show that rocked as hard as anyone's. In the 11 years since the band broke up, there were a number of rumors that would circulate regarding reunion tours. The act, Louis Prima and Keely Smith, was very much the model for Sonny and Cher, the exuberant Italian musician and the serious, unsmiling exotic female singer. This revitalized some interest in the band after they were gone. In the late 1940s he added young singer Keely Smith (who was to become Prima's 4th wife) and saxophonist/arranger Sam Butera to lead his band, called Sam Butera and the Witnesses. There are substantial parallels between the two groups' sounds and Kurt Cobain was known to have been a fan—in fact, in a Rolling Stone interview he claimed "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was his attempt to write a Pixies song. He appeared in several Hollywood movies, including a featured performance with Bing Crosby in the 1936 film Rhythm on the Range.

Right at the moment they were imploding, Nirvana was recording Nevermind, the album that would break alternative rock into the mainstream. He moved to Los Angeles to headline at the Famous Door nightclub. Musically, the Pixies were just slightly ahead of their time. His 1936 composition "Sing, Sing Sing" became one of the biggest hits and most covered standards of the swing era, famously being performed in Carnegie Hall by Benny Goodman with a featured performance by Gene Krupa on drums. Santiago has appeared on Frank Black's solo albums, writes music for FOX television, and has a band called The Martinis with his wife, Linda Mallari. He moved to New York in 1934, working regularly on 52nd Street. Lovering dropped back into obscurity, making occasional appearances as a "scientific phenomenalist", performing experiments on stage; he also drummed on one of Tanya Donelly's solo albums. In his youth in New Orleans Prima played trumpet with Irving Fazola, his brother's band, and the pit band of the Sanger Theater before forming his own group, Louis Prima's New Orleans Gang.

Kim Deal has also recorded with The Amps. His singing and playing showed that he absorbed many of the same influences as his fellow Crescent City musician, Louis Armstrong, particularly in his hoarse voice and scat singing. The album, Title TK, finally appeared in 2002, with only Kim and Kelley remaining from the previous Breeders lineup. Prima was proud of his heritage, and made a point of letting the audience know at every performance that he was Italian-American and from New Orleans. However, for several years they struggled to produce another album, mainly due to Kelley Deal's struggles with heroin. His older brother Leon Prima was a well regarded local bandleader. Deal returned to the Breeders, and scored a hit with "Cannonball" from that group's Last Splash in 1993. He studied violin for several years as a child.

He then went on to form a band with Scott Boutier, Eric Drew, Rich Gilbert, David McGaffrey, and Dave Phillips called Frank Black and the Catholics. Prima was born into a musical family of Sicilian descent in New Orleans. Black Francis renamed himself Frank Black, and released several solo albums. Prima rode the musical trends of his time, starting with his seven-piece New Orleans style jazz band in the 1920s, then succesively leading a Swing combo in the 1930s, a Big Band in the 1940s, a hot Vegas lounge act in the 1950s, and a pop-Rock go-go band in the 1960s, in all cases projecting his exuberant personality. Without telling anyone, Black Francis ended the band, and it wasn't until a year later that he faxed an official notice to the other members. Louis Prima (December 7, 1910- August 24, 1978) was an American entertainer, singer, actor, and trumpeter born New Orleans. Trompe le Monde still featured little input from Deal and wasn't as critically regarded as their first few albums.

Break-up announcements notwithstanding, one more album was to follow. The Pixies were at the height of their popularity, however, and while headlining at the Reading Festival in 1991, they played a highly enthusiastic version of "Debaser" which has become legendary among fans. Deal was not pleased, and unilaterally announced an apparent break-up of the band on-stage during the following tour. During this time, Black Francis limited Deal's contributions to the band; the first two albums had been partly written by Deal, but when Bossanova was released in 1990, all songs were by him.

After Doolittle, Black Francis temporarily went solo, while Kim Deal formed The Breeders with Tanya Donelly of Throwing Muses and Deal's sister, Kelley. Their sophomore album, Doolittle, featured three prominent singles: "Debaser," "Here Comes Your Man," and "Monkey Gone to Heaven." It was a top 10 hit in the UK and reached the top 100 in North America. For the remainder of their career, the Pixies remained large-scale stars in Britain and cult figures in the US. The band remained unsigned in the US for a while, but after a foray up the UK pop charts and some inroads into American college rock stations, they were picked up by Elektra Records.

4AD was a British music label, and the notoriously rabid British music press immediately clutched the Pixies to their collective bosoms and refused to let go. It was followed by their first full-length album, Surfer Rosa in early 1988. Eight tracks from the demo were selected for the Come on Pilgrim EP, the band's first release. The demo fell into the hands of Ivo Watts-Russell, owner of 4AD, who signed the band.

Smith became the band's manager and produced a 17 track demo (known as the "Purple Tape", publicly released in 2002). During a concert with Throwing Muses, the band was noticed by Gary Smith, a producer at Fort Apache Studios. They arrived at a name ("Pixies") by selecting an entry from the dictionary at random, and began playing shows in the Boston area. Reportedly, the ad asked for a bass player who liked The Mamas and the Papas and Husker Du.

Bassist Kim Deal joined the band after she responded to a classified ad Black Francis had placed which requested an unusual combination of musical influences. The band was formed in 1986 in Boston, Massachusetts by Joey Santiago and Black Francis (born Charles Thompson IV). Most notable was their use of soft verses and hard choruses, which was later popularized by Nirvana. Their style of music influenced many aspects of alternative rock throughout the 1990s.

Frank Black (vocals, guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), Kim Deal (bass, vocals), and David Lovering (drums). The band's lineup consists of Black Francis a.k.a. The Pixies are a band which toured and recorded in the late 1980s and early 1990s, then reunited in 2004 and began touring again. Download sample of "Holiday Song" from Come on Pilgrim.

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