When the Talking Heads officially announced their dissolution in 1991 it was just the final act of the band’s slow, sad death. Seven years earlier, they wrapped up the triumphant Speaking in Tongues tour, which was chronicled in Jonathan Demme’s brilliant 1984 film, Stop Making Sense. They took that momentum into the studio and recorded 1985’s Little Creatures, which featured the hits “And She Was” and “Road to Nowhere,” but they didn’t support it with a tour. In fact, they’d never tour again, since David Byrne was rapidly losing interest in being part of a band.
The group did limp forward with 1986’s disappointing True Stories (a companion album to David Byrne’s surreal movie of the same title) and 1988’s Naked, but by this point it was clear this was a band on the verge of imploding. Luckily for drummer Chris Frantz and bassist Tina Weymouth, they had their side project Tom Tom Club to fall back on. “Wordy Rappinghood” and “Genius of Love” were big hits in 1981, proving that they didn’t need David Byrne to get on the radio.
The Tom Tom Club played a show at the Ritz in New York City on July 17th, 1989 to promote their album Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom. Much to the shock and and delight of the crowd, David Byrne and Talking Heads guitarist Jerry Harrison joined them for a handful of songs. Here is their performance of “Psycho Killer.”
“We wrote this together before we ever had a band when we were art students,” says Weymouth, before playing the familiar opening bass lines. She sings the first verse before Byrne steps up to the mic to help her out.
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Nobody knew it at the time, but this would mark the last time Talking Heads would perform at a public concert. The only other time they’d play in any capacity was at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 2002. Nearly every music fan in the world not named David Byrne would love to see a reunion tour, but it doesn’t seem very likely.
“You’ll have to ask David Byrne about that,” Weymouth told Rolling Stone in 2013. “We never ended Talking Heads ourselves. That’s entirely in his court. We never had a fight. I don’t see why there shouldn’t be a reunion. On the other hand, I’m not going to hold my breath because life goes on. Life is too short to sit around moaning about what could have been or what was. We are in touch with the band and we all would love to do it, but we can’t do it without David.”