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Bill Berry
R.E.M. - United States

Overview

R.E.M. mark the point when post-punk turned into alternative rock. When their first single, "Radio Free Europe," was released in 1981, it sparked a back-to-the-garage movement in the American underground. While there were a number of hardcore and punk bands in the U.S. during the early '80s, R.E.M. brought guitar pop back into the underground lexicon.

In April of 1980, R.E.M. formed to play a party for their friend, rehearsing a number of garage, psychedelic bubblegum, and punk covers in an converted Episcopalian church. At the time, the group was played under the name the Twisted Kites. By the summer, the band had settled on the name R.E.M. after flipping randomly through the dictionary. Throughout the '80s, they worked relentlessly, releasing records every year and touring constantly, playing both theaters and backwoods dives. Along the way, they inspired countless bands, from the legions of jangle pop groups in the mid-'80s to scores of alternative pop groups in the '90s, who admired their slow climb to stardom.

Following Document, R.E.M. slowly became one of the world's most popular bands. After an exhaustive international tour supporting 1988's Green, the band retired from touring for six years and retreated into the studio to produce their most popular records, Out of Time (1991) and Automatic for the People (1992). By the time they returned to performing with the Monster tour in 1995, the band had been acknowledged by critics and musicians as one of the forefathers of the thriving alternative rock movement, and they were rewarded with the most lucrative tour of their career. Two months into the tour, Bill suffered a brain aneurysm while performing; he had surgery immediately and had fully recovered within a month and R.E.M. resumed their tour two months later. In October of 1997, R.E.M. shocked fans and the media with the announcement that Berry was amicably exiting the group to retire to life on his farm. 

Since then, Bill has joined R.E.M. onstage for a song on rare occasions. Two of those events were for their induction to the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and an impromptu performance on October 8th, 2005 in Athens for R.E.M guitar tech Dewitt Burton's wedding reception. R.E.M. is still considered an institution as its influence is still being felt in new generations of bands.

Congratulations to Bill Berry and R.E.M. on their 2007 induction to the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame!!

 

Links

Unofficial Bill Berry Fan Club

Equipment Configuration

MMP Masters Series

Piano Black

22x16 bass drum

13x11 tom

14x14 floor tom

16x16 floor tom

Videos