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R.E.M. is an American rock band which was created in Athens, Georgia, in 1980. The band consists of Michael Stipe (lead vocals), Peter Buck (guitar), Mike Mills (bass guitar), and Bill Berry (drums and percussion). The band gained popularity mainly because of the unique style of its members.

Musical Style

In a 1988 interview, Peter Buck described R.E.M musical style as semi-folk-rock with minor key, mid - tempo and an enigmatic touch. The songwriting is done by the entire band. Stipe is responsible for writing lyrics and devising melodies. Buck usually takes the group into new musical directions. Lastly all work together as a team to create unique musical compositions.

Early Compositions

R.E.M. released its first single, "Radio Free Europe", in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone. The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band's first release on I.R.S. Records. In 1983, the band released its critically acclaimed debut album Murmur, and built its reputation over the next few years through subsequent releases, constant touring, and the support of college radio. Following years of underground success, R.E.M. achieved a mainstream hit in 1987 with the single "The One I Love". The group signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1988, and began to support political and environmental concerns while playing large arenas worldwide.

By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to gain popularity, R.E.M gained reputation for being a pioneer. They released two most commercially successful albums, Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992), which further strengthened their presence in the world of music. R.E.M.'s Monster (1994) was a come back to a more rock-oriented sound. The band began its first tour in six years to support the album; However the tour didn't prove successful for three of the members had to face medical emergencies. In 1996, R.E.M. re-signed with Warner Bros. for a reported US$80 million, which was at that time the most expensive recording contract in history.

The following year, Bill Berry left the band, with Buck, Mills, and Stipe continuing as a three-piece. Through some changes in musical style, the band continued its career into the next decade with mixed critical and commercial success. In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The Origin of R.E.M

In January 1980, Michael Stipe met Peter Buck in the Athens record store where Buck worked. The pair discovered that they shared similar tastes in music, particularly punk rock. Stipe and Buck soon met fellow University of Georgia students Mike Mills and Bill Berry, who had played music together since high school. The foursome agreed to collaborate on several songs.

Their still-unnamed band spent several months rehearsing and played its first show on April 5, 1980 at a friend's birthday party held in a converted Episcopal church. The band members eventually dropped out of school to focus on their developing group. R.E.M.'s success was almost instant in Athens and surrounding areas; the band drew increasingly larger crowds for shows. Over the next year and a half, R.E.M. toured throughout the Southern United States.

During the summer of 1981, R.E.M. recorded its first single, "Radio Free Europe", at producer Mitch Easter's Drive-In Studios in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The single was released on the local independent record label Hib-Tone with an initial pressing of one thousand copies, which quickly sold out.

Breakthrough success: 1987-1993

Document was R.E.M.'s breakthrough album, and the first single "The One I Love" charted in the Top 20 in the US, UK, and Canada. By January 1988, Document had become the group's first album to sell a million copies. In light of the band's breakthrough, the December 1987 cover of Rolling Stone declared R.E.M. "America's Best Rock & Roll Band".

Accelerate: 2006-present

Work on the group's fourteenth album, Accelerate, started in early 2007. The band recorded with producer Jacknife Lee in Vancouver and Dublin, where it played five nights in the Olympia Theatre between June 30 and July 5 as part of a "working rehearsal". R.E.M. Live, the band's first live album (featuring songs from a 2005 Dublin show), was released in October 2007. R.E.M. released Accelerate in early 2008. The album debuted at number two on the Billboard charts,and became the band's eighth album to top the British album charts. Rolling Stone reviewer David Fricke considered Accelerate an improvement over the band's previous post-Berry albums, calling it "one of the best records R.E.M. have ever made.