DJ Blog: This Day In Music History – R.E.M.

November 17, 2011. That’s today.
November 17, 1983. That’s the day R.E.M. made their first appearance outside of the United States.

Or should I say the late and great R.E.M., since they broke up not too long ago? September to be super extremely precise and dorky about it. Boohoo. :(

On this day in 1983, R.E.M. was featured on Channel 4 UK on “The Tube,” a pop music and rock music show that showcased bands in the 80s. This marked their first time performing outside the borders of these here United States. The next night the firsts continued, when they made their live United Kingdom debut in London. It was just an epic British double whammy of firsts for R.E.M.

R.E.M. formed under the most random circumstances ever. In January of 1980, guitarist Peter Buck worked in a record store in Athens. One day that was apparently musically magical, singer Michael Stipe walked in and Stipe went to purchase all the records that Buck was actually saving for himself. They bonded over a mutual love artists like The Velvet Underground and Television. From there, they found drummer Bill Berry and bassist Mike Bills unexpectedly at University of Georgia.
The group of four did not expect anything big to come from their rehearsing and hard work. And maybe nothing would have come out of it had they stuck with some of their original band name choices, like “Cans of Piss” and “Negro Wives.” Thankfully, and with the help from a dictionary, they chose R.E.M.
By 1981, R.E.M. had released their first single, “Radio Free Europe” and, in 1982, their first EP (titled Chronic Town EP) followed. A year later, Murmur was released; this debut album featured the single “Talk About the Passion.” It wasn’t until 1987 and their hit single “The One I Love,” that R.E.M. reached mainstream status. Shortly thereafter, the band scored a killer record label and started advocating for the environment publically and being vocal about political issues, both in their work and outside of it.
R.E.M. released fifteen studio albums in total, signed for one of the most expensive record contracts of their time ($80 million with Warner Bros) and made it into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. With 2011’s Collapse into Now marking the end of their time, R.E.M. definitely had a seriously inspiring run.

So, R.E.M., congrats on having your first appearance outside of the US today! And thanks for creating so much amazing music.

About Joanna Nowak

Hey there! I’m Joanna. I’m a broadcast journalism major and, luckily, I’m one of those people who’s already doing exactly what she wants to do for the rest of forever. You can read my segment here and listen to me DJ on the WPGU airwaves. When I’m not obsessing over music, I love movies, wearing mismatched socks, drinking coffee and having wacky adventures.

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5 Responses to DJ Blog: This Day In Music History – R.E.M.

  1. Don Gerard November 18, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    I saw R.E.M. open for the English Beat in Columbia, SC (playing in the cafeteria of a college dorm) seven months earlier… “:^ )

    • Joanna Nowak November 18, 2011 at 11:23 am #

      Ahhh! You’re so lucky. :) Also a dorm cafeteria! Classy locale.

    • Ken December 6, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

      I was at the same concert Russell House Student Union

  2. adam November 18, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    the best group ever, luckily, their music will stay with us forever

  3. Russ February 10, 2012 at 9:05 am #

    I was at the same show in Cola. We went to see the Ranking Roger and The English Beat, having previously seen “that local college band” in Greenville, Athens and Atlanta. This night REM was different somehow, they exploded with energy that overcame the lack of production value. Maybe it was the congealed crowd and lack of seating in the Union. Still one of the best concerts I have seen.