The dB's are an American jangle pop and power pop group who first came into prominence in the late 1970s and 1980s. The band members are Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Will Rigby and Gene Holder. While the members are all from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the group was formed in New York City in 1978. In 2012, the band completed its first new studio album in 25 years and its first in 30 years with the original 1978 lineup.
Stamey played bass with Alex Chilton in New York during 1977, and with Television guitarist Richard Lloyd recorded "(I Thought) You Wanted to Know" that year. A single of this song, backed with "If and When" (on which Rigby and Holder played), appeared in 1978, credited to Chris Stamey and the dB's. Holsapple joined the group in October 1978.
They released their first album, Stands for Decibels, in 1981, to critical acclaim but negligible sales. Their sound was a modernized version of earlier power pop, with precise arrangements and highly accomplished instrumental work. Stamey and Holsapple were the band's songwriters, and while Holsapple was skilled in the composing of fairly straightforward tunes such as "Big Brown Eyes" and "Bad Reputation," Stamey's songs, which include "Espionage" and "Tearjerkin'," tended to be somewhat more experimental. They released a second album in 1982, Repercussion, which built upon the strengths of the first album, and also released singles such as "Judy." These two albums, recorded on the British label Albion, have since been reissued on one compact disc.
Stamey left the group after the second album, and pursued a career as a solo artist and producer. The group then recorded a third album, Like This, released in 1984. The band had finally landed an American record deal with Bearsville Records, but distribution woes caused the album to be greatly delayed, and Bearsville folded the same year. Rick Wagner joined the band on bass, and Holder moved to lead guitar.
Their last album, The Sound of Music, was released in 1987 with New Orleans bass player Jeff Beninato, founder of the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund. Again under Holsapple's direction, this is perhaps the band's most traditional pop album. Jeff Beninato participated in the subsequent tour. Gene Holder left the band to join the Individuals, and Eric Peterson was recruited on lead guitar after replacing temporary guitarist/keyboardist Harold Kelt.
Two CDs were released after the dB's broke up. Ride the Wild Tom-Tom collected demos, early recordings and singles; Paris Avenue was a posthumous album by the final lineup, based on demo tapes from the band's waning days. In 1991, Stamey and Holsapple reunited (not under the dB's moniker) as a duo to record an album entitled Mavericks.
Following their breakup, Holsapple has worked as a session musician, issued one solo album, and was a member of the Continental Drifters. He toured with Hootie and the Blowfish and R.E.M.. Stamey has released solo records and is a record producer. Rigby is a drummer playing for Steve Earle and others, and Holder has continued to record and produce. Beninato produced Little Queenie's""Q-Ball", New Orleans guitar collective Twangorama, Micah McKee's Patrons of the Saint, and Love is Love for It Gets Better. He founded The New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund.
The band reunited in 2005. The band recorded a cover version of the 1966 song "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted" to benefit the New Orleans Musicians' Relief Fund. In September 2005 the "classic" lineup of the dB's played two shows in Chicago and two in Hoboken, New Jersey. November 2006 saw the release of Christmastime, an updated version of an album released in the Eighties with contributions from Mitch Easter, Ryan Adams, and other guests. The Bowery Ballroom in NYC hosted the dB's in January 2007, and in February 2007 the dB's performed at Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina.
In March 2012, Holsapple, Stamey, Rigby and Mitch Easter (substituting for Holder) played at SxSW.
Falling Off the Sky, their first new studio album in decades, was released in June 2012 by Bar/None Records.