MUSIC HISTORY CLASS: The Birth of R.E.M.

History Lesson

On this day in 1980, alternative rock visionaries R.E.M., played their first official concert at the 11:11 Koffee Club in Athens, Georgia. A paltry 150 fans attended the show. Yet, their inner rock-rebelliousness showed even early: the police shut down the quartet’s set at 2am. The Koffee Club show would be the start of a thirty-one year career which would find R.E.M. reaching heights no one ever imagined.

Formed in January 1980 in the southern bell city of Athens, Georgia, R.E.M. would go on to release fifteen records and sell over 86 million albums worldwide. Their biggest hits include “Man on the Moon,” “Bad Day,” and “Orange Crush.” However, R.E.M. will be forever known for their monster track, “Losing My Religion” which came off their 1991 number #1 record, Out of Time.

The guys would call it a day on 21 September 2011. Yet, their legacy lives on. R.E.M. connected Pop, Rock, and New Wave in a way that made audiences swoon and critics applaud. Although often emulated, R.E.M.’s success transcending underground and mainstream barriers has yet to be duplicated.

Oh, and considering their name…well, the band holds that “R.E.M.” stands for nothing in particular. Some have speculated (and, at times, the band has entertained the possibility) that “Rapid Eye Movement” is the acronym’s origins. We will probably never find out the truth, however.

Written by Michael Meeze (follow him on Twitter)

Michael McCarron

Michael is the Founder and Director of the Philly-based LGBT+ non-profit, Punk Out. He enjoys moshing endlessly, forgetting his karaoke performance from the previous night, and pushing that Big Gay Agenda.

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