Ricky Helton Wilson was the original guitarist in the rock band The B-52s, which he helped to form in 1976.
Born in Athens, Georgia, he was the brother of fellow B-52s member Cindy Wilson.
Among guitar aficionados, Wilson's most salient feature must surely be his highly original approach to playing the instrument. Because at first The B-52s did not have a bass, he invented his own tunings, grouping the strings into a bass course (usually tuned to 5ths for strumming) and a treble course (often tuned in unison), removing the middle two strings entirely, though sometimes he played with 5 strings as well.
His style is said to have been heavily influenced by American surf group The Ventures, possibly Pink Floyd's Lucifer Sam and other Batman-style sixties music. A Wilson-modifield blue Mosrite guitar is visible on the back cover of the B-52s' self-titled first album [pictured left, Ricky Wilson is in the red jacket].
Wilson died on October 12, 1985, aged 32, from health complications related to AIDS. In an interview, fellow band member Kate Pierson stated that Wilson had kept his illness secret from his fellow band members because he 'did not want anyone to worry about him or fuss about him'.
Following his death, fellow B-52s' member Keith Strickland (originally the drummer for The B-52s) learned how to play the guitar in a similar fashion to Wilson.
The B-52s effectively disappeared for a couple of years following their loss, unable at first to envisage continuing without their friend (and in Cindy Wilson's case, brother) but they eventually regrouped and returned to achieve mainstream worldwide commercial success and The B52s remain musically active.