Original R.E.M. Lineup Appears Onstage Together for the First Time in 17 Years
R.E.M. fans were in for a surprise as singer Michael Stipe, bassist Mike Mills, guitarist Peter Buck and drummer Bill Berry all appeared onstage together Thursday night (Feb. 8) for the first time since their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2007, though they did not perform.
What brought them all together? The band members were attending a concert featuring actor Michael Shannon and musician Jason Narducy, who have been touring while playing R.E.M.'s Murmur album on a nightly basis.
While the full four R.E.M. members chose not to play together, their presence onstage at the end of the show served as a stamp of approval for Shannon and Narducy's touring tribute.
"Speaking on behalf of Bill and Mike and Peter, we are so fucking thrilled to be here tonight," said singer Michael Stipe to the audience in footage from Scene SC that can be seen below.
The Thursday performance took place at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia, where R.E.M. got their start as a band. That made the homecoming all the sweeter for fans in attendance.
Per fan accounts, it appears as though Berry, Mills and Buck joined Shannon and Narducy at different times during the band's set, but Stipe did not perform, only joining his bandmates with Shannon and Narducy's band onstage at the end of the evening.
This was not the first time that an R.E.M. member has shown up during the tour, with Mike Mills previously joining Shannon and Narducy during a Chicago show last year.
The current Shannon / Narducy tour celebrating Murmur continues through Feb. 14 at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York.
READ MORE: Michael Stipe Gives Update on Solo Album
R.E.M. Original Lineup History
R.E.M. originally formed in 1980 in Athens, Georgia. The core four of the lineup remained intact through 1997, when drummer Bill Berry left the band. The drummer had previously suffered a brain aneurysm while onstage in Switzerland in March 1995.
The band continued as a trio, utilizing touring and session musicians in Berry's absence for the remainder of their career.
On Sept. 21, 2011, the band announced that they were "calling it a day as a band."
The original four members recorded 10 albums together, with 1996's New Adventures in Hi-Fi being Berry's last record with the band. After Berry's exit, the group recorded five more albums.
As previously stated, Berry joined his bandmates in 2007 onstage for their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Since that time, it's been rare that all four members have been seen together in public. They all did appear at the 40 Watt Club in 2022 for an all-star tribute to the band's Chronic Town EP, but during the show only Buck and Mills were seen onstage.
Upon announcing their retirement, R.E.M. have been one of the few acts that actually held true to the declaration. They have not returned to the stage as a four-piece (with then drummer Bill Rieflen) to perform since a 2009 appearance at New York's Carnegie Hall. The trio of Stipe, Mills and Buck did play an impromptu performance of "Losing My Religion" in France in 2016 to celebrate the birthday of their manager Bertis Downs.
40 Rock + Metal Albums Turning 40 in 2024
Gallery Credit: Chad Childers, Loudwire