R.E.M. is an alternative rock band formed in Athens, Georgia, United States in 1980. The band originally consisted of Michael Stipe (vocals), Peter Buck (guitar, mandolin), Mike Mills (bass, keyboards, vocals) and Bill Berry (drums). Berry retired from the band in October 1997 after having suffered a brain aneurysm on the '95 Monster tour. He is now a farmer. Although "R.E.M." can stand for "Rapid Eye Movement", which is a certain stage during a person's nightly sleep, it does not have special significance with respect to the band...
Although "R.E.M." can stand for "Rapid Eye Movement", which is a certain stage during a person's nightly sleep, it does not have special significance with respect to the band, for they have stated that they got the term at random out of a dictionary. Their first show together had been performed under the name Twisted Kites.
Throughout the 1980s, the band worked relentlessly, releasing records every year from their debut album Murmur in 1983 through Green in 1988. Alongside this hectic recording schedule, R.E.M. toured constantly, playing both theaters and backwoods dives. Along the way, they inspired countless bands, from the legions of jangle pop groups in the mid-1980s to scores of alternative pop groups in the 1990s, who admired their slow climb to stardom and were instrumental in the rise of college radio. The band's politics, aesthetics, and hardworking ethos - largely inspired by the early punk and art rock movements of the 1970s - enabled the group to establish itself quickly as one of the pillars of the U.S.'s burgeoning alternative rock scene. Toward the mid-1990s, R.E.M. was an institution, as its influence was felt in new generations of bands. Throughout the late 1990s and 2000s, while commercially less significant, R.E.M. have continued to create challenging records, releasing four as a three-piece.
R.E.M.'s music stands as a testament to diversity, with their catalog reflecting the changes in time and sound in American music over the length of the band's career, from the lo-fi jangling of debut Murmur, to the politically-charged direct rock of latest album Accelerate, via dabblings in folk, electronica and glam-rock among others. Despite such shifts in direction and sound, fans are still able to identify an element of each song that retains the R.E.M. feel.