The American alternative rock band, R.E.M. was seen as one of the trailblazers for the genre with most of their songs considered as semi-folk, semi-rocklike by most of their listeners.
Comparing this group to many others, the band members had an equal amount of responsibility and shared credit when it came to the lyrical process and structure.
R.E.M. was an Athens, Georgia-based rock band formed in 1980. According to some sources, this group came to the scene at the point where post-punk music was being changed to alternative rock.
As an up-and-coming band in the college rock scene, they had a very big impact musically and were in competition with legendary bands such as Nirvana, but managed to achieve early success in their career. The band became active in 1980 but disbanded in 2011.
They had an almost consistent line-up throughout the span of their music career. They were a group of multi-talented individuals who could play multiple instruments, compose, and produce high-quality vocals. R.E.M.’s productive team consisted of four main band members and two non-musical band members, whom the group classified as the necessary hands that were needed for publication and managerial tasks, as well as eight touring members.
The classic line-up included:
- William Thomas Berry popularly known as Bill Berry (lead guitar, bass guitar, drums, and songwriting)
- Peter Lawrence Buck (Vocalist, lead guitarist and songwriter)
- Michael Edward Mills (Bass guitarist, piano, vocals)
- John Michael Stipe (Lyricist and lead vocalist)
The non-musical band members were Bertis Edwin Downs IV (Legal Counsel) and Jefferson Holt (Band manager).
R.E.M is estimated to have sold over ninety million albums worldwide, earning them the right to be one of the Best-Selling Music Artists of All Time.
They received several honors at the Grammy Awards, sweeping three awards for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with vocals, Best Music Video, Short Form, and Best Alternative Music Album in 1992, as well as twelve grand nominations.
They also won three Brit Awards in 1992, 1993, and 1995 for Best International Group; four Echo Awards for Best International Group, MTV Video Music Awards for Best Direction, Breakthrough Video, Best Art Direction, Best Editing, and Video of the Year, together with seven others and twenty nominations from the same.
They also earned Billboard awards for Top Billboard 200 Album and Top Modern Rock Artist.
The band also received accolades from twelve other achievement and award organizations, a few being the American Music Awards, BMI Pop Awards, and World Music Awards.
The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.
As of this writing, R.E.M has received forty major awards and fifty-five nominations throughout their career.
Interesting Facts about R.E.M.
Whenever a band or artist rises to fame and begins to make history, there are certain facts about them that may either go unsaid, unnoticed, or simply withheld from the public eye. These are the details that make such personalities unique. American rock band, R.E.M is certainly no exception.
Below are some interesting facts you may have never known about this band:
- They were practically broke at the start of their career. In fact, it was reported that they had a $2-food budget for each day of their first tour.
- When Band member, William Thomas Berry left the band in 1977, the group recorded three albums without a drummer. The group found it difficult to find a drummer so they held off searching for one and used the drum machine for a greater part of their recordings.
- R.E.M, throughout 23 years of their career consistently released annual Christmas singles for their fans.
- Guitarist Peter Buck in 2001 got drunk on a plane, causing a riot in the aircraft. To many onlookers, it was out of control and not a sight to behold.
- The group’s song Shiny Happy People, which was played as one of the theme songs for the award-winning sitcom “Friends” became one of the band’s major hits after being played continuously on various radio stations. It is a widely held view that people eventually got tired of hearing it.
- The band’s very first album Murmur was named Rolling Stone magazine’s Album of the Year in 1983.
- William suffered a bulge and ballooning in the blood vessels of his brain in 1994.
- The band’s seventh album, Out of Time was named literally after the events that led to it. After recording all the songs for the album, the band members could not figure out what to name the album until one member blurted out that they were “out of time”, due to the little amount of time they had until their release date. They went with the phrase and that album topped charts in the UK and the United States.
- After years of speculation by fans and critics about his sexuality, John Michael Stipe in a 2001 interview with Time magazine and a 2004 interview with Butt Magazine, described himself as queer, rather than gay.
- The band was listed by The New York Times Magazine as one of the numerous artists whose material had been destroyed in the Universal Studios Hollywood fire outbreak in 2008.
R.E.M. were and still are an inspiration to other alternative rock bands due to their massive influence. As pacesetters, they proved that unpopular, underground artists could attain heights within the industry without leashing out their artistic and musical integrity in a shameful way.
In September 2011, they disbanded amicably. Former members of the band have continued to produce solo musical projects, and release several live and archival music albums over the years.
Popular R.E.M. Songs
“(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”
“All the Way to Reno (You’re Gonna Be a Star)”
“At My Most Beautiful”
“Bang and Blame”
“Cant Get There from Here”
“Crush with Eyeliner”
“E-Bow the Letter”
“Fall on Me”
“Find the River”
“How the West Was Won and Where It Got Us”
“I’ll Take the Rain”
“Imitation of Life”
“It Happened Today”
“Leaving New York”
“Man on the Moon”
“Mine Smell Like Honey”
“Near Wild Heaven”
“Oh My Heart”
“Pop Song 89”
“Radio Free Europe”
“So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)”
“The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite”
“What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”