Tuesday, 19 December 2017

We Love you Ricky Wilson.

Ricky Wilson was the guitar player and one of the founding members of The B52s way back in 1976. Literally another time, a different century. Ricky was only 32 in October 1985 when he died, from complications related to AIDS.  He had just completed recording on the fourth studio album by the band "Bouncing Off The Satellites." The B52s seemed , and continue to seem, so close to each other. Like a family of friends. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for them to suffer such a tragic blow. They must have considered calling it a day as a band without him, the loose must have been so huge.
            Ricky Wilson was a hugely talented guitar player and song writer. The sound he produced from his guitar was literally all his own work as he tuned it in his own special way, creating a Ricky Wilson/ B52 sound. Just listen to his playing on stuff like Private Idaho, Give Me Back My Man or the seemingly effortlessly cool Lava. If there were such a thing as a rock god he would be tapping his feet in approval "Yes, like me, that Ricky is a creator.". These among others are inspired and brilliantly timeless. Yet I do not know if he has ever received the admiration and respect he deserved, which his musical gifts surely warranted. I might be wrong. I do not read any musical papers or am familiar with related musical journalism. I do not know if there is even such a thing anymore. Reading an article in Record collector or the NME would be like me reading about trout fishing in in-land waterways in Trout Fishing Monthly. I feel so distanced from the current music scene yet still take great joy in listening to so much of the music I grew up listening to. I still have a load of vinyl from them Golden Years but as far as I am aware there were no great gay guitarists in the bands I listened to and I think it would have been something great to know there was a great gay rock and roll guitarist belting out great tracks that made you want to dance and sing a long to.
               I also do not if Ricky Wilson would have been comfortable being described in the music press or any press for that matter as "Gay guitarist Ricky Wilson" he might just have preferred "guitarist Ricky Wilson", perhaps not wishing to have his sexuality become a defining characteristic of his persona as a performer. He sounds by what little I know to have been something of a private individual. Flamboyant front men, and women, are in no short supply in the history of Rock n' Roll. The colorful captains leading their fellows across the vast sea of entertainment. Yet we so often never get to see the men, or women, who stoke the engines keeping the vessels moving forward, straining before the open furnace shovelling fuel. None of the other band members were even aware he was sick with AIDS as he did not want to burden them with worries for his sake, which indicates a reserved but caring nature.
                Mind you,way back in the mid eighties there were so many misconceptions and societal mysteries regarding AIDS and the many people who suffered with the condition, some of which, unbelievably, persist to this day. So many sources of support and treatment were not readily available and many sufferers found themselves demonised and ostracized and even mistreated.
                What a terrible thing it was that Ricky Wilson was only thirty two when he died, a hugely talented and much loved person with so much potential. He had already achieved so much and it would have been something to see how he would have matured as a writer and performer. Just look at the video made for Song For A Future Generation and see him having a laugh, swinging on a flower bedecked tree swing, taping away joyfully with feet of flame to that anthem to the power of song to transcend time. What a honey.The B52s went on to record again and to achieve great world wide success but their finest period for me will always be when Ricky Wilson was effortlessly belting out great guitar riffs and tunes that will always be around as long as people love to dance around a mess.