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Talking Heads Biography


Home > Music > T > Talking Heads > Biography


Birth Place: New York City, New York, United States
Years Active: 1974–1991, One performance on March 18, 2002
Genres: New Wave, Art Punk, Post-punk, Funk, Worldbeat


Talking Heads was an American rock band formed in 1974 in New York City and active until 1991. The band comprised singer/guitarist David Byrne, drummer Chris Frantz, bassist Tina Weymouth and drummer Jerry Harrison. Auxiliary musicians also frequently made appearances in concert and on the group's albums. The New Wave musical style of Talking Heads combined elements of punk rock, avant-garde, pop, funk, world music and art rock.

In 1977 they released their first single, “Love → Building on Fire.” That same year they released “Talking Heads: 77” their debut album, which peaked at #97 in the Billboard 200 Albums chart. The album’s single “Psycho Killer” peaked at #92 on the Hot 100 Singles chart.

“More Songs About Buildings and Food” Talking Heads' second album, was the first of a string of three co-produced by Brian Eno. It peaked at #29 on the Billboard 200. The album's one single, a cover of the Al Green hit “Take Me to the River,” peaked at #26 on the Hot 100 in 1979. The album was certified gold in 1983.

“Fear of Music,” their third studio album, was released in 1979 on Sire Records. It was produced by the quartet and Brian Eno. The album entered the Billboard 200 in the United States at #21 and peaked at #33 on the U.K. Albums xhart. Three songs were released as singles between 1979 and 1980, “Life During Wartime,” “I Zimbra” and “Cities.” The record was certified Gold in the U.S. in 1985.

1980's “Remain in Light,” heavily influenced by the afrobeat of Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti, to whose music Eno had introduced the band, explored African polyrhythms, foreshadowing Byrne's later interest in world music. The “Remain in Light” album's lead single, “Once in a Lifetime,” became a Top 20 hit in the U.K. but initially failed to make an impression upon its release in the band's own country. But it grew into a popular standard over the next few years on the strength of its music video. The album peaked at #19 on the Billboard 200 in the U.S. and at #21 on the U.K. Albums chart. The record was certified gold in the U.S. during the 1980s.

1983 saw the release of “Speaking in Tongues,” a commercial breakthrough that produced the band's only American Top 10 hit, “Burning Down the House.” The album peaked at #15 on the Billboard 200 while also reaching #58 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart.

The following tour was documented in Jonathan Demme's concert film, “Stop Making Sense,” which generated another live album of the same name. The album peaked at #41 on the Billboard 200.

1985's “Little Creatures” featured the hit singles “And She Was” and “Road to Nowhere.” It peaked at #20 on the Billboard 200. “True Stories” followed in 1986 featuring the band covering all the soundtrack songs of Byrne's musical comedy film of the same name, in which the band also appeared. The single, “Wild Wild Life” peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100.

In 1988 the band released “Naked.” It peaked at #19 on the Billboard 200 and would be the band’s last album. After “Naked” the band went on hiatus. It took until 1991 for an official announcement to be made that Talking Heads had broken up. In 2002, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.