R.E.M. is an American rock band formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 by Michael Stipe (lead vocals), Peter Buck (guitar), Mike Mills (bass guitar), and Bill Berry (drums and percussion). R.E.M. was one of the first popular alternative rock bands, and gained early attention due to Buck's ringing, arpeggiated guitar style and Stipe's unclear vocals.
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.
R.E.M. made its first national television appearance on “Late Night with David Letterman” in October 1983, during which the group performed a new, unnamed song. The piece, eventually titled "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry) ," became the first single from the band's second album, 1984’s “Reckoning.” The album peaked at #27 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums chart.
The band's third album, “Fables of the Reconstruction” was released in 1985. “Fables of the Reconstruction” reached #28 in the U.S., going gold in 1991, and was the band's best showing yet in the U.K., peaking at #35.
1986’s “Lifes Rich Pageant” eventually peaked at #21 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums chart. The single "Fall on Me" also picked up support on commercial radio. The album was later certified gold.
“Document,” released in 1987 was R.E.M.'s breakthrough album, and the first single "The One I Love" charted in the Top 20 in the U.S., U.K., and Canada. By January 1988, “Document” had become the group's first album to sell a million copies.
The band's 1988 Warner Bros. debut, “Green,” was recorded in Nashville, Tennessee, and showcased the group experimenting with its sound. The album's tracks ranged from the upbeat first single "Stand" (a hit in the U. S.), to more political material, like the rock-oriented "Orange Crush" and "World Leader Pretend," which address the Vietnam War and the Cold War, respectively. “Green” has gone on to sell four million copies worldwide
By the early 1990s, when alternative rock began to experience broad mainstream success, R.E.M. was viewed as a pioneer of the genre and released its two most commercially successful albums, “Out of Time” in 1991 and “Automatic for the People” 1992, which veered from the band's established sound.
“Out of Time” topped the album sales charts in both the U.S. and the U.K., spending 109 weeks on U.S. Billboard 200 Albums chart and enjoying two separate spells at the summit, and 183 weeks on the British charts, with a single week at the top. The album has been certified four times platinum in the U.S. and has sold over 18 million copies worldwide. The album won three Grammy Awards in 1992, Best Alternative Music Album, and two for the first single, "Losing My Religion." Other charting singles included "Shiny Happy People," "Texarkana," and "Radio Song."
“Automatic for the People” reached #2 on the U.S. Billboard 200 Albums chart and reached number one in the U.K., where it topped the U.K. Albums chart on four separate occasions. “Automatic for the People” has been certified four times platinum in the U.S. and six times platinum in the U.K. It yielded six singles over the course of 1992 and 1993, "Drive," "Man on the Moon," "The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite," "Everybody Hurts," "Nightswimming" and "Find the River." Lead single "Drive" was the album's highest-charting domestic hit, reaching #28 on the Billboard Hot 100. Other singles charted higher overseas, "Everybody Hurts" charted in the Top 10 in the U.K., Canada, and Australia. The album was nominated for Album of the Year at the Grammy Awards in 1993.
R.E.M.'s 1994 release “Monster” was a return to a more rock-oriented sound. Like “Out of Time,” “Monster” topped the charts in both the U.S. and U.K. The record sold over nine million copies worldwide. The singles "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" and "Bang and Blame" were the band's last American Top 40 hits, while all the singles from “Monster” reached the Top 30 on the British charts
In 1997, Bill Berry left the band, while Buck, Mills, and Stipe continued the group as a three-piece. The group's 1996 album “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” debuted at #2 in the U.S. and #1 in the U.K.
Led off by the single "Daysleeper," 1998’s “Up” debuted in the Top 10 in the U.S. and U.K. It was the band's first album without original drummer Bill Berry.
A year after the release of their album “Up,” R.E.M. wrote the instrumental film score to the Andy Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon,” a first for the group.
2001’s “Reveal” peaked at #6, with 10 weeks on the Billboard 200. The lead single, "Imitation of Life," became another U.K. Top 10 hit as well as the band's first #1 single in Japan, but floundered at the bottom of the U.S. singles charts. Further singles from “Reveal” were "All The Way To Reno (You're Gonna Be A Star)" and "I'll Take The Rain."
They released “Around the Sun” in 2004 peaking at #13 on the Billboard 200. The first single from the album, "Leaving New York," was a Top 5 hit in the U.K.
In 2007, the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. R.E.M. released “Accelerate” in early 2008. The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts, and became the band's eighth album to top the British album charts.
Their album, “Collapse Into Now” was released in 2011. Patti Smith, Peaches and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder appear as guests on the album. The first single was “Discoverer.”