Bassist/vocalist Kim Deal and guitarist Kelley Deal, born 37 years ago today in
Dayton, Ohio, were a twin-sister act in the platinum-selling '90s group the
Breeders. Through their work in that band and others, the sisters -- together
and separately -- left a significant mark on '80s and '90s alternative rock.
Kim first became known as a member of the Pixies, the Boston-based punk/surf
rock/pop band that was one of the most innovative of the '80s alternative
groups. Kim's bass was a
key part of the band's sound, and her harmonies highlighted singer Black
Francis' lead vocals.
The Pixies' first full-length album, 1988's Surfer Rosa (produced by
Steve Albini), matched stream-of-consciousness musings about mutilation and
sex (among other topics) with noisy, jumpy guitar-rock on such tracks as "Where
Is My Mind?" and "Gigantic," and the disc became an indie cult-classic. The
Pixies further refined their sound on 1989's Doolittle. But the band, in
spite of its influence on the soon-to-break-out Seattle sound, didn't achieve
significant commercial success.
Kim, frustrated by the lack of an outlet in the Pixies for her compositions,
formed her own band, the Breeders, with former Throwing Muses
singer/guitarist Tanya Donelly. Though she appeared on the Pixies' critically
hailed science-fiction opus Bossanova in 1990, Kim concentrated her
energies that year on the Breeders' debut, Pod.
That album -- which also featured bassist Josephine Wiggs -- ultimately outsold
Money problems at the Breeders' record company stalled the band's progress,
causing Kim to refocus on the Pixies. She toured with the Pixies throughout
Europe and the U.S. in 1991 and 1992 and contributed to their last album, the
heavy-metalish Trompe le Monde (1991). In early '93, Francis officially
disbanded the Pixies due to management pressure and continuing friction
among the members.
In the meantime, Donelly left the Breeders (to form Belly), leaving Kim to
hire her sister Kelley on guitar and Jim Macpherson on drums. Kelley, a guitar
novice when hired, learned quickly.
The Breeders opened for Nirvana on a 1992 European tour. In 1993, the
Breeders' Last Splash became a million-seller in the U.S. on the strength
of the modern-rock hit "Cannonball," an MTV "Buzz Bin" favorite. The Breeders
then played the 1994 Lollapalooza tour. Over the next few years, various
musicians joined the Breeders on tour, Wiggs departed and Kelley went on
hiatus. In 1995, Kelley was arrested for possession of heroin, to which she had
developed an addiction.
In 1995, Kim released the album Pacer under the name the Amps and
toured to support it with Macpherson, guitarist Nathan Farley and bassist Luis
Lerma. Kelley entered rehab and went on to release Go To The Sugar
Altar (1996) and Boom! Boom! Boom! (1997) as Kelley Deal 6000
(including guitarist Todd Mund), a band with which she toured.
The Breeders -- principally Kim -- began recording a new album late in 1997 for
release sometime in 1998.
Whatever future paths the Deal twins take, their place in punk-rock history is
Other birthdays: Shirley Owens (the Shirelles), 57; Jimmy Chamberlain (ex-
Smashing Pumpkins), 34; Joey Santiago (Pixies), 33; and Emma Anderson