REM: The Story of One of the Most Influential Alternative Rock Bands

American alternative rock band formed in 1980 in Athens, Georgia.

Drummer: Bill Berry

Guitarist: Peter Buck

Bassist: Mike Mills

Vocalist: Michael Stipe.

All four were University of Georgia students who met at a friend’s birthday party.
The group’s name comes from the initials of Rapid Eye Movement, the sleep stage during which the most vivid dreams occur.
R.E.M. was one of the first alternative rock bands and stood out for its arpeggiated guitar style, distinctive vocals, and dark, enigmatic lyrics.
Throughout their career, they sold over 90 million albums worldwide and received numerous awards and accolades.
They amicably disbanded in 2011 after more than 30 years in the music industry.


How Was Their Musical Evolution?

R.E.M. began their career in the independent circuit, releasing their first single, «Radio Free Europe,» in 1981 under the Hib-Tone label.
The following year, they released their first EP, «Chronic Town,» which garnered critical and alternative audience attention.
In 1983, they released their first full album, «Murmur,» acclaimed as one of the best albums of the year, establishing the band’s characteristic sound.
Over the next few years, R.E.M. solidified their reputation with albums like
«Reckoning» (1984),
«Fables of the Reconstruction» (1985),
«Lifes Rich Pageant» (1986), and
«Document» (1987),

featuring hits like
«So. Central Rain,»
«Driver 8,»
«Fall on Me,» or
«The One I Love,»
marking their initial commercial successes.



1988, R.E.M. signed with Warner Bros., a larger record label with more resources than the previous I.R.S. Records.
Their first album with Warner was «Green» (1988), showcasing a more varied musical style with tracks like «Stand,» «Orange Crush,» and «Pop Song 89.»
With this album, the band embarked on a worldwide tour in large stadiums, becoming one of the most popular groups of the time.

Out of Time

1990, R.E.M. reached the peak of their career with two albums that topped charts in various countries:
«Out of Time» (1991)
«Automatic for the People» (1992).
These albums featured collaborations with artists such as Kate Pierson (of The B-52’s), KRS-One, or Johnny Marr (of The Smiths), and included iconic songs like
«Losing My Religion,»
«Shiny Happy People,»
«Man on the Moon,» or
«Everybody Hurts,»
which became generational anthems.


1994, R.E.M. took a radical turn with «Monster,» a louder and more electric album addressing themes like sexuality and fame.
While touring for this album, drummer Bill Berry suffered a cerebral hemorrhage during a concert, requiring emergency surgery.
Additionally, vocalist Michael Stipe experienced depression and hair loss, while guitarist Peter Buck faced accusations of assaulting a flight attendant during a flight.

New Adventures in Hi-Fi

1996, R.E.M. released «New Adventures in Hi-Fi,» a double album featuring songs recorded during the previous tour and new tracks.
The album received positive critical reviews but didn’t sell as well as its predecessors.
The following year, Bill Berry announced his departure from the group for personal and health reasons.
The remaining members decided to continue as a trio, hiring additional musicians for recordings and tours.


1998, R.E.M. released «Up,» an experimental album incorporating electronic elements, marking a departure from the band’s traditional sound.
The album received a lukewarm response from both critics and the public, becoming the band’s first to not enter the top 10 in the United States.
In 2001, R.E.M. returned to their roots with «Reveal,» a more organic and melodic album featuring tracks like
«Imitation of Life,»
«All the Way to Reno,» or
«I’ll Take the Rain.»

Around the Sun

2004, R.E.M. released «Around the Sun,» considered the weakest in their career, receiving negative reviews.
The band admitted dissatisfaction with the result, acknowledging a loss of connection among themselves.
In 2008, R.E.M. attempted to recapture the energy and freshness of their early days with «Accelerate,» a shorter and more straightforward album than its predecessor, produced by Jacknife Lee.
The album was well-received by both critics and the public, featuring songs like
«Supernatural Superserious,»
«Hollow Man,» or
«Man-Sized Wreath.»

Collapse into Now

2011, R.E.M. released their final album, «Collapse into Now,» a sort of summary of their musical career, featuring collaborations with artists like Patti Smith, Eddie Vedder (of Pearl Jam), or Peaches.
The album was praised by critics and included tracks like
«Oh My Heart,» or
«It Happened Today.»
Shortly after its release, the band announced their dissolution through a statement on their website, expressing gratitude to their fans for their support over the years and stating pride in their musical legacy.


What Happened to the Members of R.E.M.?

After R.E.M.’s breakup, the band members pursued various musical and personal projects.
Michael Stipe collaborated with other artists such as Coldplay, The National, or Fischerspooner, and explored his roles as a photographer and film producer.
Peter Buck joined several bands like The Minus 5, The Baseball Project, or Filthy Friends and released solo albums.
Mike Mills participated in projects like Big Star Third,
The Baseball Project, or Concerto for Violin, Rock Band, and String Orchestra, and composed music for film and theater.
Bill Berry stayed away from the music industry, dedicating himself to his farm in Georgia, occasionally making appearances with his former bandmates or other musician friends.


REM: The Story of One of the Most Influential Alternative Rock Bands

With their music, they paved the way for other bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Radiohead, or U2, who acknowledged their debt to R.E.M.
Their innovative style, independent attitude, and social commitment earned them respect from critics and affection from the public.
Their musical legacy is enormous and continues to resonate today.

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