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R.E.M. reunites for the first time in 15 years, performs 'Losing My Religion'

The four original members of R.E.M. — Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, Bill Berry and Peter Bucks — reunited and performed at the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
L. Busacca
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Getty Images for Songwriters Hall of Fame
The four original members of R.E.M. — Mike Mills, Michael Stipe, Bill Berry and Peter Bucks — reunited and performed at the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

On Thursday morning, Mike Mills told CBS Mornings that it would take "a comet" for R.E.M. to get back together. But on Thursday night, R.E.M. got back together to perform "Losing My Religion," the band's unexpected 1991 hit from Out of Time, at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony, where the band was being honored. The band had been secretly planning the reunion when the morning television program visited R.E.M.'s Athens rehearsal space in February.

It's been 15 years since R.E.M. performed live, and 13 since the band broke up.

"The thing that makes a band a band is the chemistry that occurs between the three or four people when they're standing on stage," Mills told All Things Considered in 2011. "The one thing I really will miss is that energy that happens when Peter and Michael and I start to make noise together. You can't replace that. You can only be grateful that you had it, and move on and find something else that makes you happy and excited."

Members of the Athens rock band have kept busy. Michael Stipe has released two books of photography and, just this year, announced a long-gestating solo album. Mills, along with Peter Buck, plays in the The Baseball Project. Buck remains prolific as a solo artist, in The Minus 5 and in collaboration with Joseph Arthur. Bill Berry, who left the band in 1997 after suffering a ruptured brain aneurysm two years earlier, has mostly stayed in Athens with sporadic musical activity.

"There's no drummer like Bill Berry on Earth. None," Buck told the Netflix version of Song Exploder in an episode on "Losing My Religion." "I have a lot of drummer friends, and they all ask me the same thing: 'What's his secret?' And I can't tell you, because I don't know. My theory is that he uses the space between the high hat and the snare drum in a kind of disco-y way, without being too disco."

At the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony, the band strips "Losing My Religion" to its core elements: Buck on mandolin, Mills on 12-string acoustic guitar and Berry on congas and shaker. Stipe's voice, which has grown a shade deeper now 33 years since the song debuted, mingles with the murmurs of a shocked audience singing along in a fan-recorded video.

R.E.M. also reunited, sort of, in February, at the 40 Watt in Athens, Ga., during Michael Shannon and Jason Narducy's R.E.M. tribute tour when the actor and musician were performing Murmur in its entirety. The four original members joined them onstage for a few songs.

But R.E.M. insists there won't be another reunion. Stipe says, "We had our day in the sun."

Copyright 2024 NPR

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