R.E.M. – Your Stories About Our Hometown Band

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Mike Mills with fan, Kim Nungesser, at the High Museum, 1993.

Mike Mills with fan, Kim Nungesser, at the High Museum, 1993.

[photogallerylink id=92383 align=right]We asked you to send us your stories about being an R.E.M. fan all these years. Here’s a little of what you said.

Flailing Arms to “Losing My Religion”

The year is 1991 and I am a precocious alternative rock music-loving 4 year old. My very favorite song was “Losing My Religion,” and I’d sing it at the top of my lungs and dance just like Michael Stipe. You know the dance- the arms-flailing-around-crazy dance. Anywhere you went that played the radio had that song blasting, and every time I heard it, I stopped whatever I was doing and began the dance and song routine I loved so much. To this day I still can’t help but do the crazy-arms when I hear it being played. REM has a place in my heart forever.

- Jennifer Addy

Losing My Religion


New Year’s Eve with R.E.M.

Saw REM live first time on New Years Eve Dec 31 1982 at Rumors on N. Decatur Rd. They ROCKED, still my best News Years Eve ever.

- Peter Jessen


We Owe Our Love to R.E.M.

[photogallerylink id=92270 align=right]I first became a fan of R.E.M. when I saw them at the Township in Columbia SC in 1985. I absolutely fell in love with them while watching the video for “Fall on Me” while waiting between classes at the University of SC student center. I just felt this “click” – this attachment – like I’d found this band from the South that was made up of people like me and my friends – who didn’t fit the mold of young people from the South. My attachment to this band grew with every album…every time a new one would come out, it would be the only thing I’d play for months. I went to every show that came near me that I could get the tickets for.

[pullquote quote="We both have R.E.M. themed tattoos and are known to our friends and family as uber-fans." credit="Andrea"]Back in the pre-internet days, I stood outside a Ticketmaster outlet and cried when the Chastain Park shows sold out. Forward to 2007, when I met my husband on an R.E.M. message board. We met up as fans, sharing memorabilia and music, and grew to love each other. We danced at our wedding to “At My Most Beautiful” and decorated the invitations with “sky blue bells ringing”. Our honeymoon was a trip to Los Angeles to see R.E.M. at the Hollywood Bowl…and to our amazement, we scored front row center tickets buying through the fan club. We both have R.E.M. themed tattoos and are known to our friends and family as uber-fans. We got condolence messages when the break-up was announced.

I did get a chance to meet Michael once, at the “Hello” book signing in L.A., and met Peter a couple of times after Robyn Hitchcock shows. I’ve been in the same room with Mike when he came out for the Baseball Project at the Star Bar, but for some reason became super star struck and couldn’t speak. I was standing right beside of him and was surprised at my inability to utter a word!  Thank you for all the years of this great music. I’m sure you’re told all the time how your music touches our lives, but I hope you never get tired of hearing it. It’s an awesome thing you and the guys have done with R.E.M., and we truly appreciate it.

- Andrea

At My Most Beautiful


My First Album

eponymous R.E.M.   Your Stories About Our Hometown BandI discovered REM in 1988, when I was a student at UC Santa Barbara. The first album I bought was Eponymous. Since then, it has been the only album of any band/artist that I require to have in its entirety, at all times. Thanks for the music!

- Jo Jordan


Take Mike Out to the Ball Game

greenvillebraves 100 R.E.M.   Your Stories About Our Hometown BandAbout 20 years ago I was selling hot-boiled and fresh roasted peanuts at Greenville (SC) Braves (AA) baseball games, was working down the 3rd baseline general admission seats and walked passed Mike Mills sitting with his girlfriend(?), did a double-take, and came back and said, “Mike Mills? What are you doing in the cheap seats at a Greenville Braves baseball game?” I sat down for a minute next to him and he told me he loved minor league ball and went to games whenever he could find the time. Mike couldn’t have been any nicer, and as a huge fan it is easy to look back on as a great memory with a member of one of the greatest bands of all time.

- Dave Thomason


Shiny Happy Fan

[pullquote quote="To this day, I can point out the houses, cars, trees, and other scenes I painted..." credit="Karen Gailey"]I was born and raised in Athens, GA. When REM was producing the video for “Shiny, Happy People”, they wanted the murals in the background to look like kids painted them — so they recruited my 5th grade class at Oglethorpe Elementary to do it! I LOVED spending 2 days painting huge canvases in the lunch room, and to this day, I can point out the houses, cars, trees, and other scenes I painted — including my self portrait where we all laid down and traced ourselves. I live in Sandy Springs now but will always appreciate how great REM has been to Athens (and the rest of the world, too)!

- Karen Gailey


Hangin’ Out With Michael Stipe

walters R.E.M.   Your Stories About Our Hometown Band

Walter's BBQ

Once I saw the Minus 5 play at Variety Playhouse with Mark Eitzel, and Michael Stipe came on at the end and sang Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game”. Afterwards we were having pizza at what was then a Fellini’s (it’s now Little 5 Pizza) and Stipe came in with a small entourage that may have included Jefferson Holt. They were left alone, and as they walked out after the meal, one of the guys in their group looked me right in the eye with this look that said “Yeah, that’s right, I’m hanging out with Michael Stipe!” Years before that when I was still living in Kentucky, I came down to the Atlanta area and took a day trip to Athens. It was a non-eventful day, but I did get to see Walter’s Barbecue, which is name-checked on “Dead Letter Office.” I’ve also eaten at Weaver D’s.

- Todd Bullis

Wicked Game – REM


Best Birthday EVER

[photogallerylink id=92211 align=right]Growing up, I was a HUGE REM fan. I went to UGA and every time I spotted one of the guys, I’d try to work up the courage to say hello but was always too intimidated. At any rate, I was never more intimidated than I was meeting Mike Mills on my 13th birthday at the High Museum. The only thing I wanted that year for my b-day was to go and meet him. My parents obliged and took me “into the city.” I dressed up and marched right into the High with a recent magazine that had REM on the cover (I think it was Details) and my favorite CD, Eponymous, for him to sign. And then there he was- reading a children’s book to elementary aged kids.

I was by far the oldest “kid” but could have cared less. I had the opportunity to say hello and get an autograph after the reading and was just over the moon. He hugged me and we chatted for a few minutes- you know the recent 13-year-old and the rock star. I’m sure it was a riveting conversation. But for me: Best. Birthday. Ever. I still have the magazine and pictures (I actually have bloodshot eyes from crying). (See Kim’s pictures by clicking the gallery link above.)

- Kim Nungesser


Wait — Was That Mike Mills?

I am not sure but I believe back in 2005 @ the Mall of Georgia, Mike came up to the Mall of Georgia with his wife. I worked as an RV salesman for Sagon. We had a display set up inside in front of Dick’ s sporting goods. I did not recognize him until after the fact.

- Joel “Mad Dawg” Hancock


My Apologies

Two things for Mr. Mills:

1. Thanks for the soundtrack to my life. I proposed to my wife as “At My Most Beautiful” played on my iPod. You guys announced the break-up a few days before our wedding, but we’d already planned for her to walk down the aisle to “Nightswimming.” It felt like everything came full circle. I’ll always miss R.E.M., but I’m incredibly excited about the music that you guys will produce on your own. Please bring the Big Star Third show to Atlanta!

2. A few years back, I’m pretty sure I annoyed you at the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young show at Philips as I drunkenly tried to tell you how great you are. Um, sorry about that.

- Will Mason

Nightswimming


Wait — That Was Mike Mills????

I met Mike at my sister’s house in 1993. It was her wedding day, and after the reception, the party continued at her (and my brother-in-law’s) house in Virginia Highland. Mike showed up at the party with a mutual friend of theirs (Tony). I assumed they were both ultimate Frisbee friends of theirs. I spoke to Mike and Tony for some time at the party, without ever knowing that Mike was the Mike from REM. I only found out after they left, and someone commented about how long I had spoken with him.

Needless to say, if I had known it was him I probably wouldn’t have been able to carry on a normal conversation. I really wish I had had the opportunity to say how much REM’s music had meant to me at that point – and now almost 19 years have passed and it means even more. “Night Swimming,” “Texarkana,” “Don’t Go Back to Rockville” – he’s responsible for some of my favorite REM tunes. Thank you, Mike! I hope to run into him sometime again! P.S. we share the same birthday!

- Beth Radtke

Don’t Go  Back to Rockville


Dancing With Michael Stipe is #1 on My Bucket List

rem accelerate cover R.E.M.   Your Stories About Our Hometown BandMy favorite memory is from the “Accelerate” tour in Raleigh, NC. Michael Stipe jumped off the stage and danced with me! I happened to holding a gianormous sign which read “Dancing with Michael Stipe is #1 on my Bucket List!”. It was amazing… typical R.E.M. They love their fans and we love them!

I have been a fan since 1982 when I was a student at the University of South Carolina. Now I’m 50 and sport “REM ROX” on my Virginia license plate. I was sad when I heard the boys were “calling it a day” but so very grateful to them for a lifetime of musical memories. I hold a special place in my heart for Mike Mills, whom Eddie Vedder aptly called R.E.M.’s “secret weapon”. I hope he is enjoying this next chapter of his life, and can’t wait to hear what’s next!

- Lesley Hamer


Rockin’ in Rio

mike mills renata R.E.M.   Your Stories About Our Hometown BandHi everybody! I’m from São Paulo and I saw all the four R.E.M. shows here in Brazil, in November 2008. Unforgettable days, I traveled to Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro and I return to São Paulo, just to see my favorite band! And I saw R.E.M. in Rock in Rio, too, January 2001.

Like many friends and fans, my heart broke up to disband when the band decided to stop. Since 2009, we celebrate a party, the R.E.Meeting, with a tribute band and opportunities to talk about songs, shows and videos. Well… next week, I’m going to NYC and I’ll arrive in Athens April 4!! I want to see the R.E.M.’s city and share this experience to my friends in Brazil, when I’ll return, April 7, my birthday! Oh! If I had a chance to see the R.E.M.’s members!

[photogallerylink id=92333 align=right]Thanks, Mike, you was so gentle when I asked to take a picture to you, in hotel entrance, and I had your bass string that I received in the second show in São Paulo. Don’t forget to Brazil in your “REMemories”. We’ll be waiting for you, always! #ThankYouREM

- Renata Alves da Silva


Cranking R.E.M. Over Frat House Speakers in Athens

I graduated from UGA in 1988 and loved seeing REM live at Legion Field, partying to ‘Radio Free Europe’ cranked up over the fraternity house speakers, and listening to every album from Murmur to Reckoning to Life’s Rich Pageant to Document and everything in between. REM was such a big part of the Athens music scene and really became a part of me. By the time Green came out, I was in medical school at Georgetown in DC, and I had friends over just to listen to it. My oldest of three sons, Stefan (16) grew up from the womb listening especially to ‘Out of Time’ and ‘Automatic for the People’, and I can sometimes hear REM’s influence in his own songs (he writes, sings, and plays guitar in a band). I now own about 3000 vinyl LPs, including all of REM’s, and when asked “Who is your favorite band?” my answer is without exception “REM!”

- Chuck Livsey


I’d Rather Be Talking to Mike Mills

40watt R.E.M.   Your Stories About Our Hometown Band

The 40 Watt in Athens

I went to see my boyfriend’s band, Drivin N Cryin at the 40 Watt in Athens a couple years ago. (Drummer, Dave V. Johnson). I remember being very excited to see Mike Mills come up on stage and sing the encore of “Straight to Hell” up on stage with Kevn… When Mike came down from the stage when he was done, I was waiting there to greet him, and all I could think to say to one of my favorite band’s bassists was: “Reckoning and Automatic For the People are two of the greatest rock n’ roll albums ever!” Ha… After I continued to try to talk to Mike, he simply said, “Now why don’t we keep listening to this good music here.” (Drivin N Cryin). Of course I agree with their awesomeness, but little did Mike Mills know that I had seen them dozens of times, and at the time, this REM fan was way more excited to be meeting and talking to him…. ;)

-Caroline Ott


Lost My Religion in Argentina

cristianolcina remconcert R.E.M.   Your Stories About Our Hometown Band

I wonder if you remember your 2008 show in Argentina, it was one of the best shows ever in our country. It got rave reviews from fans and the media. In Argentina, we are very appreciative of musicians, and we are a very noisy audience. I was in the first row, more or less in front of you, you’ve been always my favorite R.E.M. member. I was waving my arms at you all the concert, and when my favorite song came, the song that presented R.E.M. to me started, all hell broke loose, the audience started to jump with the first chords of “Losing My Religion” and started to sing the mandolin part with an Oh Oh Oh Oh Oh, the 40,000 of us were in heaven, and on top of that, you went down the stairs and went to the place I was standing. I almost die, I touched you and you went a few meters more, when you came back I touched you and said without any thinking in English: “We Love You” you smiled and went back to the stage. I think R.E.M. should release “Losing My Religion” in Argentina, I think there’s not other version like this. With forty thousand people making an improvised chorus in the mandolin part.

- Cristian Olcina


Last Concert in Atlanta

One of the best concerts I’ve ever attended was REM @Lakewood in June of 2008. Who knew it would be the band’s last performance in Atlanta!! Mike, any fond memories of this show and tour? Thanks!

- Pam Smith


Nice to Meet You, Mrs. Buck

peterbuck R.E.M.   Your Stories About Our Hometown Band

Peter Buck (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

As a student working at Georgia Tech in the early 1980s, a morning after attending an REM concert, I was excitedly talking about the concert in the hall with another student. The Lab Secretary overheard our conversation and politely ask how we liked the concert. She told us, I’m Peter Buck’s mother. Violet Buck. Love that name. For years, she and I would discuss REM, as they became a huge hit. Regret, never personally meeting Peter. His mom is great.

- Mitch


Smart Enough to Follow R.E.M.

Best REM story pre-1985: REM almost got me thrown out of high school. I fell deeply in love with REM’s music in 1982. At the high school I went to you could leave early on a Friday if you were going for a college interview. I used my killer (sorry to brag) SAT scores to get interviews to “scholar weekends” at small colleges around the South. I then blew off those weekends and followed REM around/attended shows. I got busted by the University of The South when they called my headmaster and “regretted” that I had missed their weekend. I was in deep, deep trouble.

Best REM story pre-2000: When my son was born at Piedmont Hospital he was a little early so he had to spend a short time in the ICU. The nurses said I should talk to him. I didn’t know what to say so, over the course of 3 sleepless days, I sang the entire (including Bandwagon) catalog to him in the order that the songs came out. I also interspersed with stories about the songs and when I seen them. He enjoyed it.

Best REM story from the day they disbanded: When I heard, I tweeted out “F–K!”. I had almost 300 tweets back within three hours of people offering their condolences.

Thanks Mike. Always good to see you around town. I like Taka as well. Please tell Peter that I said “hello” and that I am glad he is enjoying Portland.

- Ted Wright

Hey, Mike, Remember Our Band in College?

mike mills crossfire R.E.M.   Your Stories About Our Hometown BandMike Mills with Crossfire Band (pre-REM) at Creswell Hall jam (circa 1979) with his Hofner Hollow Body bass (slightly warped neck). Other band members included Ken Holley, Jim Spruell and John (singer). Had some great times at the Georgia Pig on nickel pitcher night.

- Ken Holley


The Baseball Project Performs at Maxwell’s >>

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