June 10: Kim Deal, AKA Tammy Ampersand, with the Pixies, The Breeders and The Amps is, 50-years-old today

Did you know?

Kim Deal uses the All Wave philosophy of recording. To record All Wave one must use no computers, no digital recording, no auto-tuning, or any other mainstays of contemporary production. The philosophy carries through the entire production and mastering process, including mixing, editing, sequencing, post-production and the exceptional step of an all-analog direct-metal master for the vinyl LP.

This process was used on The Breeders' Title TK, the Off You EP, and Mountain Battles.


Kim Deal was born in Dayton, Ohio. Kim and her identical twin sister Kelley were introduced to music at a young age; the two sang to a "two-track, quarter-inch, tape" when they were "four or five" years old, and grew up listening to hard rock bands such as AC/DC and Led Zeppelin.

When Deal was 11, she learned Roger Miller's "King of the Road" on the acoustic guitar. As a teenager, Kim Deal formed a folk rock band named The Breeders with her sister. She started writing songs. The sisters bought microphones, an eight-track tape player, mixing boards, speakers, a drum machine and amps for a bedroom studio.

Following high school, Deal went to seven different colleges, eventually receiving an associate degree in biology and took several jobs in cellular biology, including working in a hospital laboratory and a biochemical lab. Deal met John Murphy then started to date. Although Murphy was not a musician himself, he wrote the song "Hoverin'" with Deal. The couple married in 1985, and moved to Murphy's hometown of Boston, Massachusetts.

The Pixies
Deal became the bassist and backing vocalist for the Pixies in January 1986, after answering an advertisement in the Boston Phoenix for a bassist who was into hardcore punk band Hüsker Dü and folk music icons Peter, Paul and Mary.

Deal was the only person to respond and arrived at the audition without a bass guitar. She had never played the instrument before.

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Gigantic: a tribute to Kim Deal


She joined frontman Charles "Black Francis" Thompson and lead guitarist Joey Santiago, who had formed the band a week earlier. Murphy suggested they hire David Lovering, a friend of his, as drummer to complete their lineup.

For the release of the band's first recording Come On Pilgrim in 1987, Deal adopted the stage name "Mrs. John Murphy" as an inside joke

For the 1988 album Surfer Rosa, Deal sang lead vocals on the album's only single "Gigantic" which she co-wrote with Thompson. Doolittle followed a year later, with Deal contributing the song "Silver" and appearing on slide guitar.

Group friction developed from releasing three records in two years and constant touring, particularly between Thompson and Deal. During a tour, Thompson threw a guitar at Deal and she was almost fired from the band.

The band decided to take a break.

During a 1988 post-Surfer Rosa tour of Europe with Throwing Muses as part of the Pixies, Deal began to write new material. As both bands did not have plans for the short term, Deal discussed possible side-projects with Throwing Muses guitarist Tanya Donelly.

The Breeders
After rejecting the idea of creating a dance album together, the pair decided to form a new band. Deal named the band The Breeders, after the folk band she formed with Kelley as a teenager, and they recruited Carrie Bradley, violinist and vocalist in Ed's Redeeming Qualities, to record a short demo tape.

The Breeders' demo was sent to 4AD head Ivo Watts-Russell, who immediately signed them to the label. The Breeders allowed Deal to become more active in songwriting, and their 1990 debut album, Pod,  containing mostly Deal-written songs, was recorded in Edinburgh, Scotland.

After the Pixies reconvened in 1990, Deal felt increasingly underutilized, and the Pixies' officially broke up in early 1993.
Deal then returned her focus to The Breeders, who released the platinum-selling album Last Splash in 1993.

In 1994, the band went into hiatus. During The Breeders' eight year break, Deal adopted the stage name Tammy Ampersand and formed The Amps, who recorded a single album, Pacer in 1995.

The Amps

She resumed her role as The Breeders' guitarist for their third album Title TK in 2002, and reunited with the Pixies in 2004. The Breeders released their fourth studio album, Mountain Battles, in 2008. Kim and The Breeders released their third EP, Fate to Fatal, in April 2009.