David Lovering, born 37 years ago today, was the drummer for the Pixies, the innovative, '80s guitar-based pop-rock band that set the stage for the alternative rock explosion of the '90s, before it disbanded early in that decade.
The Pixies' seeds were sown in Boston in 1986 by Charles Thompson (a.k.a. Black Francis) and his roommate, Joey Santiago. The California-born Thompson studied anthropology at the University of Massachusetts, but loved music and convinced Santiago to be in a band with him.
The pair advertised in a trade paper for a bassist who liked Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul and Mary. Kim Deal, who would later play in the Ohio folk/garage-rock group the Breeders, answered the ad.
Deal suggested Lovering -- whom she met at her wedding reception -- for the Pixies' drum slot. Lovering had played in the Massachusetts bands Iz Wizard and Riff Raff. The band chose its name from the dictionary definition of "pixie," meaning mischievous little elf.
The Pixies began earning a name for themselves by touring, and they attracted agents' attention by supporting their fellow Bostonians Throwing Muses for a gig. After Boston-based producer Gary Smith offered to record them, the Pixies made The Purple Tape, which circulated in the indie community in 1987.
England's 4AD Records signed the Pixies and issued some of the tape's songs as the Come on Pilgrim EP. Surfer Rosa (1988), the band's first LP, was produced by Steve Albini, who later helped Nirvana master their sound. The Pixies' sound was based on their abrasive guitars but also featured melodic hooks and cryptic words. The album was well-received in the U.K. and became a U.S. college radio favorite.
Elektra Records soon scooped up the Pixies for 1989's critically acclaimed Doolittle. The LP included two top-10 rock hits, "Monkey Gone to Heaven" (RealAudio excerpt) and "Here Comes Your Man," and made #98 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It was a top-10 smash in Britain.
The Pixies' accompanying tour made them famous for Francis' notoriously stiff performance manner and Deal's earthy humor. But the bandmembers tired of each other's company on the road and took a hiatus in 1990, during which Deal formed a new Breeders.
Later in the year, The Pixies returned with Bossanova, which included the modern rock hits "Velouria" and "Dig for Fire." But during the last show of a U.K. tour filled with fights between Deal and Francis, Deal announced they would disband.
However, they subsequently reconvened and released Trompe Le Monde in 1991. They also opened part of U2's Zoo TV tour. But Francis soon announced on the BBC that the Pixies were finished -- before he told his bandmates.
Francis went on to a solo career as Frank Black, while Deal returned to the Breeders. In 1995, Lovering and Santiago formed the Martinis, who contributed the song "Free" to the soundtrack to "Empire Records" (1995).
Glue Factory Records will soon release Where Is My Mind, a 15-track tribute CD to the Pixies by such young bands as Nada Surf, Weezer and Superdrag.
"Kids these days, born after 1985, don't know who the Pixies are," Kevin Knight of Glue Factory said. "They wrote amazing songs. They broke the seal on making it cool to listen to indie-rock stuff. They proved it was cool to listen to guitar music and to be different."
Last year, 4AD issued the compilation LP Death to the Pixies. This year saw the release of The Pixies at the BBC, a collection of music the band performed on the famous "John Peel Show."
Other birthdays: Len Barry (Dovells), 56; Mike Smith (Dave Clark Five), 55; Rick Buckler (ex-Jam), 43; Peter Buck (R.E.M.), 42; Ben Watt (Everything But The Girl), 36; and Ulf Gunnar "Buddha" Ekberg (Ace of Base), 28.