NOTE: This biographical sketch gives an overall history of The dBs with some inside scoops included. It was dictated by former dBs drummer Will Rigby to himself under duress and, though he attempted to be objective and inexplicably insisted on using a third-person perspective, is to be read with that in mind. This is a work in progress and has been and will occasionally be added to, corrected and rewritten (with assistance by other members of the band and various inside sources of pertinent and amusing info) until its done.
A version of the story by Peter Holsapple appeared in the book Alt-Rock-a-Rama, Scott Schinder ed., published 1996 by Rolling Stone Press, copies of which can still be found. The history before 1977 and of individual work by band members will be added as time permits.
Familiarity with the music is presumed here; and since this is meant solely as an accurate chronological history, critical analysis of the music will be left to others.
Chris Stamey moved from North Carolina to New York in 1977 to attend NYU, and was immediately hired to play bass with Alex Chilton, a position that lasted most of that memorable year in the history of New York rock. Chilton produced Chriss Ork Records 45 "The Summer Sun"/"Where the Fun Is." When Chilton moved back to Memphis at the end of that year, Chris was working on his next single, "(I Thought) You Wanted to Know," written by and recorded with Televisions Richard Lloyd.
In the spring of 1978 Chris invited Will Rigby and Gene Holder to New York to be his rhythm section for some shows. All three had grown up in Winston-Salem, NC, playing in the small but lively music scene there. (The same is true of Peter Holsapple, Mitch Easter, and Don Dixon.)
Chris chose the name dBs as reference to "drums and bass" as well as it being the abbreviation for deciBels, the scientific measurement of loudness.
It was quickly decided to make the band an ongoing project. An almost immediate four-track recording session yielded "If and When," which became the B-side of "(I Thought) You Wanted to Know." Chris released this 45 on his Car Records label in the fall of 78 under the name Chris Stamey and the dBs, although the band appears only on one side.
Chris Stamey and the dBs played their first show in June 1978 at Maxs Kansas City in New York; other shows around town and in Philadelphia followed that summer. On many of these shows Genes cousin Bo Calanna joined in on sax on a song or two; Fran Kowalski, another member of Chiltons 77 band, joined in on organ at least once. Songs played during this period included all the previously mentioned plus "We Should Be in Bed," "Baby Youre OK," "Im Only Sleeping," songs from Sneakers records (Chris and Wills last North Carolina band an eponymous 1976 7" six-song EP and 1978 LP In the Red), "Shes Green Im Blue," and others.
Chilton paid a visit to town for a two-night stand at Maxs over Labor Day weekend, backed by Chris and Will.