Pixies Founder Black Francis Is a Westport High Graduate
Westport is a prototypical Massachusetts small town. It’s quiet, it’s filled with good people and generational farms, and life just seems simpler and movs just a little slower there, in all the right ways.
It’s not exactly the place you’d expect a rock god to emerge from, but that’s exactly what happened in the early 1980s.
The Pixies were one of the most influential alternative bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and they are still rocking today, with a European tour planned this summer. The band is led by singer/songwriter/guitarist Black Francis, also known as Frank Black. Yet to his classmates from Westport High School’s Class of 1983, he is Charles Thompson IV.
Thompson moved around as a child, but according to Wikipedia and other bios, he moved to Westport just before his senior year of high school. He wasted no time fitting in, apparently, because thanks to Richard Monast, Media Specialist at Westport Junior/Senior High School, we got a look at some of the Class of ‘83 yearbook, including Thompson’s’ senior photo:
He was also a member of the yearbook staff.
The Westport 1983 yearbook also features poems and a message written by Thompson, giving some insight into the writer and artist he would become.
Online bios state that Thompson wrote many songs during his time at Westport High School that would later make it onto Pixies albums, including one of their best-known tracks, “Here Comes Your Man” from the 1989 album Doolittle.
After graduating high school, Thompson went on to study anthropology at UMass Amherst, and that’s where the foundation of The Pixies was built.
They released their first full-length studio album Surfer Rosa in March 1988, and it contained the track “Where Is My Mind?,” a song that would go on to be featured in numerous television shows and movies over the ensuing decades, such as Fight Club and HBO’s The Leftovers, and it’s also the entrance music for AEW wrestler Orange Cassidy.
Their sophomore album Doolittle also featured another one of their best-known songs, “Monkey Gone to Heaven.”
They released one more album before tension in the band caused a breakup, although the group reunited in 2004 and have been going ever since. “Black Francis” also became “Frank Black” following the breakup, releasing solo albums such as Teenager of the Year – said to be named after an award he received at Westport High School.
The Pixies recently covered Doris Day’s signature song “Que Sera, Sera,” taking the cheerful classic and giving it a slow-burning, melancholic makeover. It serves as the theme song to the Epix series From, one of the most intriguing mystery shows since Lost.
The band was hugely influential on the alternative artists of the 1990s, including Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and PJ Harvey. In addition to their own prolific works, the Pixies’ DNA can be found in much of the pantheon of Gen X rock music.
Not too shabby for a kid who came out of Westport.