R.E.M. was formed in Athens, Georgia by singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassplayer Mick Mills and drummer Bill Berry. In 1981 they recorded and released the single "Radio Free Europe" for their own expenses. The single got a lot of airplay on college-radiostations, and the magazine "Village Voice" chose it as the indie single of the year. This earned the band a contract with the I.R.S. label and in 1982 the mini-album "Chronic Town" was released.
Their first regular album "Murmur" was released in 1982 and got fine reviwes and even reached the top 40 on the charts. At this time the band was surrounded by some mystery due to Stipe often weird lyrics that were often almost whispered. The band toured a lot were growing as live-performers
In 1984 "Reckoning" was released; again produced by Mitch Easter.
In 1985 the group went to England to tour and record a new album with legenday Joe Boys as the producer. The album "Fables of the Reconstruction" was artically a big success, but their big commercial break-through still did not happen
With a new album "Life´s Rich Pageant" and the single "Fall on Me" their reputation was still growing and a compilation album of rarities "Dead Letter Office" was released in early 1987.
Finally with the album "Document" produced by Scott Litt came the big breakthough. Stipe´s vocals were put up in front now much easier to understand. The album contained the big hit single "The One I Love" and the anthem "It´s the End of the World as we Know it". The band was known for strong political views which were often expressed in the band´s lyrics.
The band signed with Warner Brothers in 1988 and their success continued with world-wide hit singles like "Losing My Religion", "Man on the Moon" and "What´s the Frequency, Kenneth"
In 1989 keyboard player Peter Holsapple was introduced as a more less permanent member and he was featured on the albums and live performanced until 1995.
In 1997 Bill Berry decided to leave the band, and the band continued as a trio using various drummers.