R.E.M. played their first concert in Athens, Georgia, USA, on 19 April 1980. Their line-up consisted of four drop-outs from the University of Georgia; Michael Stipe (4 January 1960, Decatur, Georgia, USA; vocals), Peter Buck (b. 6 December 1956, Berkeley, California, USA; guitar), Mike Mills (b. 17 December 1958, Orange County, California, USA; bass) and Bill Berry (b. 31 July 1958, Duluth, Minnesota, USA; drums). Without the charisma of Stipe and his eccentric onstage behaviour, hurling himself about with abandon in-between mumbling into the microphone, they could easily have been overlooked as just another bar band, relying on the harmonious guitar sound of the Byrds for their inspiration. Acquiring a healthy following among the college fraternity in their home-town, it was not long before they entered the studio to record their debut single, Radio Free Europe, to be released independently on Hibtone Records. This was greeted with considerable praise...
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