Episode 299. Mike Mills – Co-Founder-Alternative Rock Band R.E.M.
Mike Mills is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, and composer who was a founding member of the alternative rock band R.E.M. Though known primarily as a bass guitarist, backing vocalist, and pianist, his musical repertoire includes keyboards, guitar, and percussion instruments. He contributed to most of the band’s musical compositions and is the only member with formal training.
Mike Mills is an American musician, singer, and songwriter, best known as the bassist, keyboardist, backing vocalist, and occasional lead vocalist for the alternative rock band R.E.M. Born on December 17, 1958, in Orange County, California, but raised in Macon, Georgia, Mills was a founding member of R.E.M., which became one of the most influential and critically acclaimed bands in the alternative rock genre.
Critical aspects of Mike Mills’ career with R.E.M. and beyond include:
Formation of R.E.M.: R.E.M. was formed in 1980 in Athens, Georgia, by Mills, Michael Stipe (vocals), Peter Buck (guitar), and Bill Berry (drums). The band quickly became a staple of the alternative rock scene with their debut single, “Radio Free Europe,” in 1981.
Musical Contributions: Mills’ contributions to R.E.M. were multifaceted. His melodic bass playing, keyboard skills, and harmony vocals were integral to the band’s sound. He also co-wrote many of the band’s songs, contributing to their distinctive style.
R.E.M.’s Success: Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, R.E.M. enjoyed significant commercial and critical success. Albums like “Murmur,” “Document,” “Out of Time,” and “Automatic for the People” were both commercially successful and critically acclaimed. Hits like “Losing My Religion” and “Everybody Hurts” became anthems of the era.
Role in the Band: Beyond his musical contributions, Mills was known for his distinctive style and presence on stage. His backing vocals and harmonies with Stipe were a signature element of R.E.M.’s sound.
R.E.M.’s Disbandment: R.E.M. disbanded amicably in 2011 after a career spanning three decades. At the time of their disbandment, they were celebrated for their contributions to music and influence on a generation of bands.
Post-R.E.M. Career: After R.E.M., Mills continued to be involved in music. He has participated in various musical projects, collaborations, and performances, showcasing his versatility as a musician.
Legacy and Influence: Mike Mills and his bandmates in R.E.M. left a lasting legacy in rock music. R.E.M.’s influence can be seen in many bands that followed, and they are often cited as pioneers of the alternative rock genre.
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