1. The band chose their name after guitarist Joey Santiago was flipping through the dictionary and happened upon the word “pixie.”
2. Black Francis’ real name is Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV. His stage name comes from a joke his father had once made about how he was saving that name in case he had another son.
3. Black Francis met Joey Santiago when they were suitemates at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Thompson invited Santiago to form a band together in a letter sent while he was an exchange student in Puerto Rico. They both dropped out of college and started the Pixies after finding Kim Deal through a classified ad seeking a female bass player who loved Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul, and Mary.
4. The band attempted to recruit Kim Deal’s twin sister Kelley to be their drummer, but it didn’t work out. Kelley would go on to play guitar in her sister’s other band, The Breeders.
5. Kim Deal first met David Lovering at her wedding reception. She remembered him when the band was getting frustrated looking for a drummer to complete the lineup.
6. The lyrics to “Gigantic” were inspired by Crimes of the Heart, a movie in which Sissy Spacek’s character has an affair with an African-American teenage boy.
7. “Allison” sounds like it’s a song about a girl, but it’s really a tribute to jazz pianist Mose Allison.
8. The lyrics of “Debaser” reference Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dali’s 1929 Surrealist film Un Chien Andalou, in which a woman’s eyeball appears to be sliced open with a straight razor.
Black Francis first saw the film when he was a student at U-Mass. “I didn’t have the patience to sit around reading Surrealist novels,” he told Ben Sisario in his 33 1/3 book about Doolittle. “But hey, 21-minute films? Sure. I can deal with that.”
9. The original chorus of “Debaser” was actually “Shed, Apollonia!” referring to Prince’s girlfriend who led the group Apollonia 6 and appeared in the movie Purple Rain.
“I couldn’t sing about stripping Apollonia 6, that was just too silly – though I like the idea!” Black Francis told Sounds in 1989. “It was too tongue-in-cheek, too like an inside joke. It had to at least be a little more broad than that.”
10. The lyrics of “Ana” from Bossanova are an acrostic, with the first letter of each line spelling out “SURFER.”
11. Kim Deal used the stage name Mrs. John Murphy as an ironic feminist joke on the band’s earliest records, inspired by a conversation with a woman who wanted to be called by her husband’s name.
12. The lyrics for “Where Is My Mind?” were inspired by a snorkeling trip.
“That came from me snorkeling in the Caribbean and having this very small fish trying to chase me,” Black Francis told Select in 1997. “I don’t know why. I don’t know too much about fish behavior.”
13. “No. 13 Baby” refers to street gangs Black Francis heard about as a kid in California.
Don’t want no blue eyes
I want brown eyes
“Viva la Loma Rica was a gang that was around at that time, I think,” he explained in the 33 1/3 book about Doolittle. “I don’t know anything about them but you used to see the spray pain everywhere – VLLR, for Viva la Loma Rica, ‘long live the rich hill.’ Thirteen of course is a famous number in gang-speak. The 13th letter of the alphabet, marriage and marijuana. You know, M.”
14. The title of the band’s first EP, Come On Pilgrim, comes from a catchphrase from Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman. Black Francis became a fan of Norman as a kid, and saw him perform at a religious summer camp when he was 13 years old.
15. Kim Deal wrote “Bam Thwok,” the only new original Pixies song recorded by the band after they reunited in 2004, for the soundtrack to Shrek 2.
Dreamworks contacted the band’s manager to write a new song for the opening sequence of the movie shortly after they announced their reunion tour. The song was ultimately rejected in favor of Counting Crows’ “Accidentally In Love.” The band ended up releasing the song as a one-off single on iTunes.
16. The first line of “Wave of Mutilation” — “cease to resist” — is a reference to a song Charles Manson wrote for The Beach Boys called “Cease to Exist.” The group changed the title to “Never Learn Not to Love” and lyric to “cease to resist.”
17. Black Francis and Kim Deal clashed very often, which led to a meeting in 1990 in which the band’s lawyers had to talk him out of firing her from the group.
The meeting came after Deal refused to play a concert in Frankfurt, Germany, after Thompson threw a guitar at her on stage in Stuttgart. This conflict is a large part of why Deal barely sings on the band’s final album, Trompe Le Monde.
18. Black Francis announced that the band was over in an interview on BBC Radio 5 in 1993, later informing Santiago on the phone, and Deal and Lovering with a fax.
19. After the Pixies split, Joey Santiago continued to perform with Thompson — now known as Frank Black — and cowrote music for television, including the theme song for Judd Apatow’s Undeclared and music for Weeds.
20. The working title for Doolittle was Whore, but Black Francis changed his mind when he learned of Vaughan Oliver’s cover art concept for the record.
“Vaughan changed the artwork idea and said he was going to use this monkey and halo, so I thought people were going to think I was some kind of anti-Catholic or that I’d been raised Catholic and trying to get into this Catholic naughty-boy sort of stuff, like Ken Russell does in his movies,” Black Francis told a British music trade magazine. “A monkey with a halo, calling it Whore — that would bring all kinds of shit that wouldn’t be true. So I said I’d change the title.”