Formed in 1978 in Winston-Salem, NC, the original lineup of the band featured Chris Stamey (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Gene Holder (bass), and Will Rigby (drums). All three members had spent time in Stamey’s legendary group, Sneakers. After relocating to New York, the dB’s released their debut single, “(I Thought) You Wanted to Know,” b/w “If and When” for Stamey’s Car label. Guitarist/vocalist/keyboardist Peter Holsapple, who had worked with Stamey in the band Rittenhouse Square in the early ’70s, joined the band by the end of 1978. Holsapple and Stamey shared the songwriting chores during the band’s early years.
The dB’s were unable to secure a U.S. recording contract, so they signed to the British Albion label. They released two albums on Albion: Stands for Decibels (1981) and Repercussion (1982). Both records received rave reviews but little sales. Stamey left in 1983 to resume a solo career. Rick Wagner was added on bass but was replaced shortly by Jeff Beninato. With Holsapple fronting the group, they signed to Bearsville in 1984 and released Like This, a more conventional jangle pop album with strong country leanings. Bearsville’s internal problems doomed the album despite its obvious hit potential. They eventually left to sign with I.R.S. Records in 1987, where they released The Sound of Music. The album managed to break the Top 200 and college radio support was strong. The dB’s received some crucial exposure when they opened for R.E.M. on their Document tour in the end of 1987, but by the end of 1988, the band decided to break up. In 1994, Paris Avenue, a collection of demos for the band’s never-recorded fifth album, was released on Monkey Hill.
Holsapple and Stamey reunited in 1991 for a duo project, releasing Mavericks later that year. Mavericks was the only album the duo ever released (although they have been working sporadically on a followup in recent years). Following its release, Stamey continued with solo projects; he also continued to contribute to the Golden Palominos, work as a sideman for Bob Mould, and become an acclaimed producer for bands like Whiskeytown and Le Tigre and artists like Caitlin Cary. Holder went on to join the Wygals and worked as a producer and guest musician for other artists. Will Rigby released one solo album, Sidekick Phenomenon, in 1985, and a second, Paradoxaholic, in 2002. He also joined Steve Earle’s band as drummer. Holsapple joined R.E.M. as an occasional touring member in 1991 and formed his own band, the Continental Drifters, with then-wife Susan Cowsill. He went on to serve as a sideman to Hootie and the Blowfish.
In late 2004, the original lineup of the dB’s reformed. They have been playing occasional shows while working on a new album, and have released a couple of new songs through their web site, www.thedbs.com.
The band’s latest work is 2012’s ‘Falling Off the Sky’, which has attracted serious critical praise. For example, ‘The Chicago Tribune’ ran an article stating that he release “sounds like the work of a band still very much at the top of its game.” ‘Falling Off the Sky’ was created by the group’s classic line-up of Peter Holsapple, Chris Stamey, Gene Holder, and Will Rigby,