R.E.M. guitarist Peter Lawerence Buck was born on this day in 1956
in Berkeley, Calif. Buck and the rest of the R.E.M. boys perhaps are
best-known for such hits as "Orange Crush," "The One I Love" and
"It's The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)," but
they also helped to influence a generation of alternative rock acts by
being one of the early purveyors of "college rock" in the '80s. Buck
first met singer Michael Stipe when Stipe came into the Athens, Ga.
record shop that Buck managed in 1980; the two hit it off based on
their mutual love of pop music. Drummer Bill Berry and bassist Mike
Mills joined later that year, and the group began rehearsing in a
converted Episcopal church. It wasn't long before the mixture of
Buck's heavily Byrds-influenced guitar-playing and Stipe's subdued
vocal style became a large part of the band's signature sound. By
1982, R.E.M. had signed with I.R.S., based on the strength of an indie
release of "Radio Free Europe," and released the critically acclaimed
Chronic Town EP later that year.
Murmur was released in 1983 and was an instant hit on the
burgeoning college rock scene, with its layered-guitar sound, obscure
lyrics and dedication to pop-hooks practically defining the genre.
Reckoning followed in 1984, as did Fables of the
Reconstruction in 1985 and Lifes Rich Pageant in 1986.
Each album found the band's sound getting tighter and Stipe's singing
becoming much more clear. 1987's Document was R.E.M.'s first
top ten album, based largely on the success of the hit single "The One
I Love." In 1988, the band moved to Warner Bros. and released
Green, which spawned hits in the form of "Stand," "Orange
Crush" and "Pop Song 89." The band went on an extended hiatus
after many years of touring and recording, during which time the
entire band sans Stipe joined Warren Zevon to form a one-off band
called the Hindu Love Gods. R.E.M. came back big in 1991 with Out
Of Time . The album, which featured a new mandolin- and
strings-heavy sound, shot to #1 and gave us such hits as "Losing My
Religion" and "Shiny Happy People." 1992's Automatic for the
People was a much more somber affair, with "Everybody Hurts,"
"Drive" and "Man on the Moon" all hitting the charts. 1994's
Monster brought the group back to the rock fold, kicking-out
the jams with such tunes as "Crush With Eyeliner" and "What's the
Frequency, Kenneth?" R.E.M. toured in 1995 to support the album,
but the outing was canceled after a few weeks because drummer
Berry suffered a brain aneurysm onstage at a show in Sweden; after
his recovery, the group continued the tour. 1996's New
Adventures in Hi-Fi was a commercial disappointment. Earlier
this year, the group vowed to go on after Berry quit due to his new-
found lack of interest in the rock 'n' roll life. Birthday boy Buck will
join his remaining bandmates starting early next year in San
Francisco to record their 13th album.
Other birthdays: Len Barry (Dovells), 55; Kim Simmonds (Savoy
Brown), 50; Rick Buckler (the Jam), 42; David Lovering (the Pixies),
36; and Ulf Gunnar Ekberg (Ace of Bass), 27.