Talking Heads' Tina Weymouth

As bassist for popular '70s and '80s art-rockers Talking Heads, Tina Weymouth was one of the first and one of the few women in rock music to make her mark in a function other than singer.

Martina Michele Weymouth was born Nov. 22, 1950, in Coronado, Calif. She and boyfriend Chris Frantz (drums) and singer/guitarist David Byrne met at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early '70s. Byrne and Frantz played together in a group called the Artistics. After graduation, Weymouth and Frantz moved to New York City to join Byrne in putting together a new punk-pop band. They began rehearsing on the Lower East Side and got day jobs.

In 1975, Talking Heads (the three named the band after seeing the term in TV Guide) opened for the Ramones at the famed New York punk club CBGB. The following year keyboardist Jerry Harrison, previously with Jonathan Richman's Modern Lovers, joined Talking Heads, and the band soon signed with Sire Records.

Talking Heads '77, the group's debut, drew immediate attention from critics for its mixture of punk-influenced rock 'n' roll and intellectual lyrics. It contained "Don't Worry About the Government" and "Psycho Killer," a tune Weymouth, Byrne and Frantz had composed and fine-tuned before forming the group.

More Songs About Building and Food (1978), which added funk to the mix, got the band FM-radio airplay with its cover of the Al Green hit "Take Me to the River." The LP marked the beginning of Talking Heads' collaborations with electronic music whiz Brian Eno.

Eno was back for Fear of Music (1979), which got the band even more acclaim, thanks to the catchy "Cities" and "Life During Wartime," with its popular "this ain't no party, this ain't no disco" chorus. Weymouth and Frantz also became more prominent in the group's musical mix, as it tried world rhythms.

Side musicians added horns to the top-20 Remain in Light (1980), which continued the band's polyrhythmic experimentations and included "Once in a Lifetime." In the meantime, as Byrne explored solo options, Weymouth and Frantz launched the avant-funk Tom Tom Club, whose eponymous 1981 debut LP, featuring "Genius of Love" (which Mariah Carey sampled in her 1995 #1 "Fantasy"), went to #23 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. The disc featured backing vocals from Weymouth's sisters and was co-produced by her and Frantz with engineer Steven Stanley.

Speaking in Tongues (1983), with the Talking Heads sans Eno for the first time since their debut, yielded the hit "Burning Down the House." The band also conquered films with their Jonathan Demme–directed concert movie and LP, Stop Making Sense.

Following the pop-oriented Little Creatures (1985), which yielded hits in "And She Was" (RealAudio excerpt), "Stay Up Late" and "Road to Nowhere" (RealAudio excerpt), Talking Heads provided the soundtrack LP to Byrne's first directorial effort, "True Stories."

Naked (1988) was less well received than many of the band's efforts. After it was issued, Byrne put Talking Heads on hiatus and went back to his solo career. Tom Tom Club released Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom in 1989. In late 1991, Byrne announced the demise of Talking Heads.

Tom Tom Club issued Dark Sneak Love Action (1992). The same year brought the Heads' retrospective Popular Favorites 1976–1992: Sand in the Vaseline.

In 1996, the Tom Tom Club's "Many Rivers to Cross" was featured on the soundtrack to "The Long Kiss Goodnight." The same year Byrne filed suit against the other Heads, who planned to use the name Head for their new group without Byrne. The Heads' LP No Talking Just Heads eventually was released that year after all four Talking Heads members reached a settlement in which they agreed to co-own the bandname.

This year, the original Talking Heads did promotion together for the 15th anniversary re-release of Stop Making Sense.

"When we were onstage, I always thought that we were creating something magical," Weymouth said of Talking Heads.

Other birthdays on Monday: Rod Price (Foghat), 59; Aston "Family Man" Barrett (Wailers), 53; Little Steven Van Zandt, 49; and Rasa Don (Arrested Development), 31.

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