Chris Frantz

Founding Member of the Talking Heads and the Tom Tom Club

Chris Frantz came to the forefront of rock as a drummer, songwriter, band leader, recording artist and record producer.  He was the drummer and founding member of the Talking Heads and the Tom Tom Club.  As a member of the Talking Heads Chris was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2003.   He has appeared on 20 albums that have sold over 12 million copies earning 9 gold records and 5 platinum records. Four Talking Heads albums are ranked in Rolling Stone magazine’s 2003 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, including “Remain in Light” listed at #128.  Frantz's driving beats fueled the enduring classic tunes of "Take Me To the River", "Once in a Lifetime",“Burning Down the House”, “Psycho Killer”, "Genius Of Love" and "Life During Wartime",.

"This ain't no party, this ain't no disco, this ain't no fooling around"....."Heard about Houston? Heard about Detroit? ................Heard about Pittsburgh, P. A.?"

Picking up the beat in Pittsburgh P.A.  

Chris Frantz was born Charlton Christopher Frantz on May 8, 1951 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. His father Robert Lewis Frantz, a graduate of West Point and Harvard Law, was a two star Army general and attorney who had been born and raised in Pittsburgh. Being a military family the Frantz family moved frequently living in Indiana, Virginia and Massachusetts. His father left the Army in 1958 and returned with the family to his hometown of Pittsburgh where he . became a law partner with Buchanan-Ingersoll.

In Pittsburgh Chris began playing the trumpet in his elementary school music program but switched to drums.  He continued with the drums in high school playing in the Shadyside Academy marching band.  In addition to music Chris also excelled in art and won several interscholastic art awards in the Pittsburgh area.  One of his paintings was displayed at the Three Rivers Art Festival.  Inspired the Beatles appearance on Ed Sullivan Chris got a drum kit and formed a garage band called the Lost Chords.  They had fun playing for friends in their parent's Fox Chapel basements.   

The Hustlers / The Beans

Chris Frantz began playing drums professionally in 1969 when he joined the Pittsburgh band called the Hustlers. In 1969 the Hustlers featured Chris on drums, Randy Linhart on guitar and vocals, Lloyd Stamey on bass and vocals and Sebastian De Nunzio on keyboard and vocals. De Nunzio had been the founder of the popular Pittsburgh bands the Fenways and the Racket Squad.  

Chris graduated from Shady Side Academy in 1970. After graduation in the summer of 1970 the Hustlers changed their name to the Beans and moved to New York City where they hoped to be discovered.  They  landed a regular gig at the Electric Circus on St. Mark's Place in the East Village.  In the late 1960s the Electric Circus was a showcase club that played host to the up and coming bands such as the Velvet Underground, Sly and the Family Stone, Dr. John, Deep Purple and the Allman Brothers Band.  But by 1970 the Electric Circus was in decline.  The Hustlers who played original music were fired when they refused to play Top 40 cover tunes.  The band broke up and Chris decided to study art. 

Art Rock in Providence

Chris enrolled in the Rhode Island School of Design in the fall of 1970 to study painting. He met his future wife and band mate Tina at figure-painting class in September 1972, introduced himself, and they became a couple.  A follow classmate Mark Kehoe was making a film and asked Chris to work with another student David Bryne to write and record soundtrack music. Chris hit it off with Bryne and asked him if he would like to form a band.  Joining with other students they formed a band called the Artistics in the winter of 1973.  They played Smokey Robinson and Lou Reed covers tunes at parties for friends along with a few originals such as 'Psycho Killer', 'I'm Not In Love' and 'Warning Sign'. 

Talking Heads Emerge at CBGBs

Bryne moved to New York. After graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design Frantz and his girlfriend Tina Weymouth joined Byrne in a year later in the fall of 1974. Moving to the Lower east side they all share a loft.  Deciding to form  a band Tina learned the bass and they rehearsed for about six months getting material together. They began playing under the name Talking Heads at a new little known club called CBGBs.  Their first gig was opening for the Ramones in June of 1975.  The Talking Heads became key players in the New York New Wave punk scene centered at CBGCs with the Ramones, Television, Blondie, and Patti Smith. After working as a trio  for a year they added keyboardist / guitarist Jerry Harrison. 

Sire Records

The Talking Heads began recording demos of their original songs in early 1976.  In November of 1976 they Sire Records, the label of the Ramones.  They toured the U.K. with the Ramones in May of 1977.  Sire released the "Talking Heads 77" album in September of 1977.  The tract "Pyscho Killer" brought them national attention reaching 92 on the Billboard Top 100.  For their second album "More Songs About Buildings and Food"  they worked with producer Brian Eno who had worked with Roxy Music, David Bowie, and Robert Fripp.  Their cover of Al Green's "Take Me to the River" took the Talking Heads to the Billboard Top 30 and appearances on Saturday Night Live in 1979.  With that break through they went on the be a main stay of FM radio and concert tours through the 1980s.  They broke up in 1991.

Tom Tom Club

Tina and Chris formed the Tom Tom Club in 1981 as a side project from Talking Heads.  After Talking Heads' third record,  David Byrne took a break to record his first solo record.  Chris and Tina decided to do their own project during the break. They recorded their first album in he Bahamas with Adrian Belew (of King Crimson fame) on guitar. Their dancey first single, "Wordy Rappinghood" sold well and became an international success reaching number 1 on the Billboard Dance Charts in 1982.   The single "Genius of Love" reached 2 on the R&B chart and 23 on the Top 100 singles. The album "Tom Tom Club" climbed to 23 on the Billboard Top 200 chart and went Gold.

With the success of the first Tom Tom Club album they continued to record and tour. Chris and Tina released Close to the Bone (1983) and Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom (1989). Tom Tom club toured the summer of 1989. After Talking Heads broke up in late 1991, Chris and Tina continue their careers focusing on the Tom Tom Club.  became Frantz and Weymouth's main outlet. They released their fourth album "Dark Sneak Love Action" in 1992  After an eight break for Talking Heads reunion tour and work producing other artists they released "The Good the Bad and the Funky in 2000".  They followed with a live album in 2002 and "Genis In Love" in 2010.  In 2012, they released the EP Downtown Rockers.

The Tom Tom Club has made several appearances in Chris Frantz's hometown of Pittsburgh including shows at Rosebud, Metropol, the Three Rivers Arts Festival in June of 2011 and several performances at the annual Friends of Hospital Albert Schweitzer Haiti benefit event.

The Chris Frantz Beat
Early Talking Heads
Tina, David, and Chris
Tom Tom Club