How the B-52’s ‘Rock Lobster’ Changed John Lennon’s Career
The B-52’s “Rock Lobster” is a fun new wave song that was inspired by the music of Yoko Ono. The track managed to have a huge impact on John Lennon. Without it, some of John’s music might not exist — nor would a song by another major rock star.
The origin of the B-52’s ‘Rock Lobster’
“Rock Lobster” stands out among rock songs simply because there are no other famous rock songs about lobsters. Interestingly, the track wasn’t inspired by an actual rock lobster. According to The Washington Post, an odd experience B-52’s Fred Schneider had inspired the track.
“I went to this disco in Atlanta, Georgia, called 2001. And instead of having a light show and fabulousness, they had a slide show,” Schneider said. “And it was empty, and they showed pictures of puppies, babies, and lobsters on a grill, and I thought, okay, ‘Rock Lobster,’ that’s a good title for a song.” After drinking some alcohol together, the band started crafting the song. They created “Rock Lobster” as a tribute to the music of Yoko Ono.
How the song impacted John Lennon
According to the book Days That I’ll Remember: Spending Time With John Lennon & Yoko Ono, John went club-hopping — with a mission. He wanted to know what music people were listening to at the time. He found himself at a disco called Disco 40. Hearing “Rock Lobster” made him want to write more songs.
“Upstairs, they were playing disco, and downstairs I suddenly heard ‘Rock Lobster’ by the B-52’s for the first time,” John said. “It sounds just like Yoko’s music, so I said to meself, ‘It’s time to get out the old ax and wake the wife up!’” After that, John began writing a song for Double Fantasy, a collaborative album by himself and Yoko. He wrote new tracks very quickly. For example, he wrote the ballad “Woman” over the course of a few minutes. It’s amazing how “Rock Lobster” led to the creation of “Woman,” a song with a much different vibe.
How ‘Rock Lobster’ inspired Panic! at the Disco
Interestingly, John is not the only rock star to take inspiration from “Rock Lobster.” Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco sampled “Rock Lobster” for his song “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time.” Urie deemed “Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time” one of the best Panic! at the Disco songs.
“I’ve always wanted to write a party song,” Urie told Loudwire. “Not just a song that you can party to, but a song describing the things that you experience at a party, or hope to experience. So there’s a lot of jumping around and trying to figure out fun ways to describe a debauched night. I’m so glad I got to use the ‘Rock Lobster’ sample, too.” Urie and John are different musicians but it’s interesting that they both took inspiration from “Rock Lobster.”