You Say It's Your Birthday: Echo & The Bunnymen's Will Sergeant

Today is the birthday of Echo and the Bunnymen guitarist

Will Sergeant, who was born in 1959 in Liverpool, England. Echo and the

Bunnymen were one of several gloom-pop bands--the Smiths and the Cure among

others--to emerge from the English punk scene in the early 1980s.

Following in the footsteps of dark, moody bands like the Doors and Joy

Division, The Bunnymen included Sergeant, vocalist Ian McCulloch, drummer Pete

de Freitas and bassist Les Pattinson.

The group formed when McCulloch was

booted from an early incarnation of the Teardrop Explodes; he began working

with Sergeant and Pattinson, originally backed by a drum machine they

affectionately called Echo. Even when Echo was replaced by de Freitas, the band

kept its name.

The Bunnymen's debut, Crocodiles, came out in 1980

and received critical acclaim for the group's songwriting, spare arrangements

and energetic garage rock sound.

With 1981's Heaven Up Here the

group moved in a darker direction, but it wasn't until the following year that

their singles, including "The Back of Love" and "The Cutter," began to show up

on the pop charts. They continued in their gloomy vein, even when de Freitas

made a brief departure from the group in 1987. That year, the group worked with

Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek on a cover of the Doors' "People Are Strange"

for the film The Lost Boys, and recorded its best-selling record,

Echo and the Bunnymen.

In 1988 McCulloch left to pursue a solo

career, to be replaced by Irishman Noel Burke. In 1989 de Freitas was killed in

a motorcycling accident; one post-McCulloch, post-Freitas album was

released--1990's Reverberation before the group disbanded.

Sergeant

went on to work with McCulloch in the group Electrafixion, who released an EP

in 1994 and a full-length album, Burn; late last year the duo announced

they would be reuniting with Pattinson for another try as Echo and the

Bunnymen.

Other birthdays: Tiny Tim, Herbie Hancock, John Kay

(Steppenwolf), David Cassidy (Partridge Family), Pat Travers, Alexander Briley

(Village People), Tony James (Generation X/Sigue Sigue Sputnik) and Amy Ray

(Indigo Girls). -- Beth Winegarner