Writer(s): Kate Pierson, Fred Schneider, Keith Strickland, Cindy Wilson (see lyrics here)
Released: June 20, 1989
First Charted: August 26, 1989
Peak: 3 US, 4 CB, 5 RR, 14 MR, 2 UK, 5 CN, 19 AU, 8 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 0.5 US, 0.6 UK, 1.24 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 1.0 radio, 61.04 video, 228.93 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
The B-52’s arrived on the scene a decade earlier with their debut album and became a definitive band of the new wave/post-punk era. They had a cult following primarily comprised of the gay community and college radio listeners. However, their relevance declined and in 1985, they considered calling it quits after guitarist Ricky Wilson died of AIDS. Instead, they soldiered on with drummer Keith Strickland recording guitar parts in Wilson’s style. SF
In 1989, they came back on the scene in a big way. The band wanted Nile Rodgers (best known for his band Chic) to produce their Cosmic Thing album, but he wasn’t available. They turned to Don Was who had his own group Was (Not Was), but had also worked with Bob Dylan, Elton John, and the Rolling Stones. Kate Pierson, one of the singers in the band, credits Was for making the song a hit. The band used to perform songs live before recording them, but Was helped them structure “Love Shack” and record it in the studio. SF It didn’t just put them back on the radar, but gave them their first taste of mainstream success and became their signature song. It topped the charts in Australia, Ireland, and New Zealand and hit the top 5 in the U.S., UK, and Canada. WK
The band was inspired by the club in the movie The Color Purple, as well as Hawaiian Ha-Le, a real club outside Athens, Georgia where the band hung out. The club drew a wide variety of hippies, scenesters, and University of Georgia students. Cindy Wilson, another of the band’s singers, described the club as “a really cool place – a run-down love shack kind of thing…It was a really interesting place.” SF The concept for the song was that the Love Shack was “a place where people of all stripes come together for a groovy time.” SF
The song was also inspired by a tin-roofed cabin – also in the Athens, Georgia area – where Pierson lived in the ‘70s. The band conceived their 1979 hit “Rock Lobster,” probably their best-known song prior to “Love Shack,” at the cabin. Wilson’s memorable line about “tin roof rusted” was actually an outtake from a jamming session. WK The line has been famously misinterpreted as “Hennn-ry, busted.” SF Wilson has said she was thinking of the rusty roof from the Hawaiian Ha-Le club. SF
First posted 11/16/2019; last updated 9/25/2022.