Stipe was pivotal in the development of the Alternative Rock music and remains to this day a huge influence singers, songwriters and artists in general
The influential and unique Michael Stipe turns 59 today
Michael Stipe was born on January 4th, 1960 in Decatur, Georgia, while in Athens, he met Peter Buck during the late 1970’s at the Wuxtry Records store, together they formed R.E.M. The band has a quick success among Indie and Alternative Rock fans during the 1980’s. They released their first album, “Murmur” in 1983 that included “Radio Free Europe” a minor hit for the band. Despite their following growing bigger and bigger during that decade, it wasn’t up until the early 1990’s that R.E.M finally made it into the mainstream with their 1991 album “Out Of Time” that featured several hits for the band such as “Losing My Religion”, “Shinny Happy People”, “Radio Song” and “Near Wild Heaven”. The early 90’s offered R.E.M. the perfect conjuncture to present their music to a larger audience as it was the time for the Alternative Rock started to rule the charts around the world. Praised often by bands such as Nirvana who listed them as one of their main influences, R.E.M. presented in 1992 their masterpiece “Automatic For The People” that includes the memorable songs “Drive”, “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite”, “Everybody Hurts”, “Man on the Moon” and “Nightswimming”. In 1994 the band switches musical direction on the album “Monster” which features a more prominent distorted and heavier guitar sound by Peter Buck and it’s presented as a darker tone album, mainly due to the recent deaths of two of the band’s friends Kurt Cobain and actor River Phoenix. Though distinctively different from R.E.M.’s signature and classic sound, “Monster” still was a sales success for the band and scored them hits such as “What’s The Frequency Kenneth?”,”Crush with Eyeliner”, “Strange Currencies” and “Bang and Blame”. After the big boom of their popularity in the early 1990’s, R.E.M. started to increasingly distance themselves from the lime light by refusing to continue their classic songwriting success formula. After drummer Bill Berry leaves the band in 1997, retiring from music, R.E.M. went on as a three piece. The band’s popularity never went down, however, from the late 1990’s up until the 2000’s, they started to distance themselves from the band and begun focusing more on solo projects, though still remaining close friends. In 2011 they officially disbanded. Possessing a distinctive voice, Stipe is noted for the “mumbling” style of his early career as well as for his social and political activism. He was in charge of R.E.M.’s visual aspect, often selecting album artwork and directing many of the band’s music videos. Outside the music industry, he owns and runs two film production studios, C-00 and Single Cell Pictures. As a singer-songwriter, Stipe is considered to be an influence on a wide range of artists, including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Thom Yorke of Radiohead. He also has became one of the most notable voices for the LGBT community, specially after coming out as gay during the early 2000’s. Michael Stipe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 and he turns 59 today.
Look back at the 1991 “Losing My Religion” iconic music video by R.E.M
Watch and listen to R.E.M at their very best on this 1991 MTV Unplugged concert
Listen to some of R.E.M.’s best songs on Spotify
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