from Fort Campbell, KY
May 8, 1951 (age 70)
As one of the Talking Heads' founding members, drummer Chris Frantz provided the backbeat for all of the group's subsequent recordings (and performances). Born Charton Christopher Frantz on May 8, 1951, at Fort Campbell, KY, Frantz and his family eventually relocated to Pittsburgh during the mid-'60s, where he took up the drums and began playing in local bands. Frantz and his band at the time (the Beans) then moved to New York City, figuring they'd have a better chance of being discovered there. The plan didn't work out, as Frantz opted to put music on the backburner and enroll into the Rhode Island School of Design by the summer of 1970. It wasn't long before Frantz' desire to play music returned, though, and after meeting another like-minded musician at the school, guitarist/singer David Byrne, the duo formed a group called the Artistics. After graduation, Frantz took up Byrne's invite to move back to New York City, as Frantz's girlfriend (and fellow Rhode Island School of Design graduate), Tina Weymouth, relocated as well. With Frantz and Byrne having trouble finding a suitable bass player, Weymouth offered to learn the instrument, and by 1974, the Talking Heads was officially formed. Falling in with the emerging music scene at the downtown N.Y.C. club, CBGB's (Blondie, the Ramones, Television, etc.), the Talking Heads soon built a sizeable following with their quirky music -- eventually signing a deal with Sire Records. With ex-Modern Lovers keyboardist/guitarist Jerry Harrison joining up, the group issued such early new wave classics as 1977's Talking Heads: 77, 1978's More Songs About Buildings and Food, 1979's Fear of Music, and 1980's Remain in Light. Subsequently, the band began adding additional musicians to their live shows (including added percussion players to accompany Frantz). With the group taking a brief break during the early '80s, Frantz and Weymouth (who by this time were married) decided to launch a side project, the Tom Tom Club. The group enjoyed a major hit with the track Genius of Love off their self-titled 1981 debut, and although they quickly assembled a sophomore effort, 1983's Close to the Bone, Frantz and Weymouth opted to return to their original band. The Talking Heads would immediately go on to enjoy the biggest commercial success of their career, as such hit albums as 1983's Speaking in Tongues, 1984's Stop Making Sense, 1985's Little Creatures, and 1986's True Stories, made the quartet one of rock's top acts. But friction was developing over creative control within the band, resulting in the group issuing only one more album, 1988's Naked, before splitting up in the early '90s. Frantz and Weymouth continued issuing further Tom Tom Club albums -- 1988's Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom, 1991's Dark Sneak Love Action, and 2000's The Good, the Bad, the Funky -- but none replicated their early success. Frantz and Weymouth have gone on to co-produce other artists (including Ziggy Marley, los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Happy Mondays, and Shirley Manson's pre-Garbage outfit, Angelfish), while Frantz' drumming can be heard on releases by Byrne, Brian Eno, and Robert Palmer. A bid in the late '90s to reunite the Talking Heads fell short when just Weymouth, Frantz, and Harrison agreed, who were soon met with a lawsuit by Byrne, when the trio decided to call their band the Heads. The matter was soon settled out of court, with the trio able to retain their name. But the group's one and only album, 1996's No Talking Just Head, quickly sunk from sight, as a variety of different singers were invited to lend vocals to different songs. All four of the former Talking Heads members settled their differences long enough to reunite for a night in 2002 for their induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with a short set of hits. ~ Greg Prato, Rovi
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