Michael Stipe is a singer, songwriter, and filmmaker from the United States, best known as the lead singer of the alternative rock band R.E.M. While attending college for art, he struck a chord with a record store clerk, Peter Buck, and expressed a desire to form a band. Just as the two began writing music, Mike Mills and Bill Berry joined them to form the influential American rock band R.E.M. Following the release of two singles, the band recorded their debut album, ‘Murmur,’ which immediately connected with music fans and was well-received. Eventually, the band released a string of successful albums before achieving commercial success with the single ‘The One I Love’ from ‘Document’. Their two studio albums, ‘Out of Time’ and ‘Automatic for the People,’ are widely regarded as the group’s most successful and best. Among the group’s other chart-topping albums are ‘Green’, ‘Monster’, ‘Up’, ‘Around the Sun’, Accelerate’, and ‘Collapse into Now’. Along with his music career, he dabbled in acting and filmmaking. He founded his own production company, Single Cell, through which he produced two blockbuster films, one of which was nominated for an Academy Award.
Childhood & Adolescence
John Michael Stipe was born in Decatur, Georgia, on January 4, 1960, into a military family. As a result of his father’s job, he spent his childhood in a variety of locations, including Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, and Texas. He also spent time in Germany.
He graduated from Collinsville High School in 1978 and enrolled at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, to study photography and painting.
Career of Michael
Attracted to punk music, he frequented the Wuxtry record shop in 1980, where he quickly became friends with the store clerk and aspiring guitarist, Peter Buck. The two formed a band and began writing music.
In 1980, they formed R.E.M. with bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry. Eventually, in 1980, the band members all dropped out of school to focus exclusively on the band. The band performed its first concert in Athens, Georgia, the same year, earning them widespread recognition.
In 1981, Hib-Tone released the band’s debut single, ‘Radio Free Europe.’ The song attracted enough attention for the band to sign with I.R.S. Records, which released the band’s second single, ‘Chronic Town EP’, in 1982.
The band’s first full-length album, ‘Murmur,’ was released in 1983 and received favorable reviews from critics. In 1984, they released their second album, ‘Reckoning.’
He made his acting debut in 1983 with the unreleased 45-minute Super-8 film ‘Just Like a Movie.’ The third album, ‘Fables of the Reconstruction,’ was recorded in England in 1985, during which time tensions between the band members reached the point of dissolution.
The group performed in Canada and throughout Europe in July and August 1985, including England, France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands. Additionally, they performed on the German television show ‘Rockpalast’ in Bochum.
The band’s fourth album, ‘Life’s Rich Pageant,’ was released in 1986 to critical acclaim, and I.R.S. produced the band’s first video release, ‘Succumbs.’
Following the termination of their contract with I.R.S., the band signed with Warner Bros. Records and released their self-titled debut album ‘Green’ in 1988.
His friendship with Tori Amos resulted in the 1994 soundtrack of Don Juan DeMarco featuring the duet ‘It Might Hurt a Little’. It was later scheduled for inclusion on the 1995 Empire Records motion picture soundtrack, but was never released.
The band’s next album, ‘Monster,’ was released in 1994, and was followed by a commercially successful world tour the following year, during which drummer Berry suffered a brain aneurysm and required immediate surgery.
Berry left the band following the band’s next commercial success, ‘New Adventures in Hi-Fi,’ which topped the US and UK charts in 1996, leaving the trio to continue as a trio.
Their 1998 album ‘Up’ received mixed reviews. Even though it charted in the top ten in the United States and the United Kingdom, the album was a commercial failure, as the band’s market began to decline in the United States and increase in the United Kingdom.
Apart from his musical endeavors, he published a photo collection in 1998 titled ‘Two Times Intro: On the Road with Patti Smith.’
He founded his own film production company, Single Cell, through which he produced two blockbuster films:
‘American Movie’ and ‘Being John Malkovich,’ the latter of which garnered three Academy Award nominations.
Following that, ‘Reveal’ (2001), ‘Around the Sun’ (2004), and ‘Accelerate’ (2005) were released (2008). Additionally, a number of compilation video albums were released.
In 2006, he compiled six different cover versions of Joseph Arthur’s ‘In The Sun’ as an extended play to benefit Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
In 2008, he collaborated with Lacoste to create his own ‘holiday collector edition’ of a polo shirt. After the band’s 15th album, ‘Collapse into Now,’ was released in 2011, the group disbanded amicably.
In 2013, he collaborated with Courtney Love on a new song, ‘Rio Grande,’ for the pirate-themed film ‘Son of Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys.
He made his solo debut in December 2014 as a surprise opening act for Patti Smith’s concert at New York’s Webster Hall.
He has appeared in a few Hollywood films, including ‘Color of a Brisk and Leaping Day’ (1996), and provided the voice for ‘Olive, the other Reindeer’ (1999).
He has made several brief television appearances, including ‘The Adventures of Pete & Pete,’ ‘Sesame Street,’ ‘The Simpsons,’ and ‘The Colbert Report.’
Significant Works of Michael
The band’s first chart-topping single, ‘The One I Love,’ came from their fifth studio album, ‘Document,’ which was released in 1987. While the single debuted at the top of the charts in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada, the album became the band’s first to sell a million copies.
The band’s breakthrough album, ‘Out of Time’ (1991), topped the US and UK charts and sold 12 million copies worldwide, while the band’s single ‘Losing My Religion’ became one of MTV’s most popular videos.
The band’s 1992 album ‘Automatic for the People’ was widely regarded as their best, reaching number one and two on the UK and US charts, respectively.
Awards and Accomplishments
The band’s debut album, ‘Murmur,’ was named the ‘Rolling Stone Critics Poll Album of the Year’ in 1983, defeating Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’.
At the 1992 Grammy Awards, the album ‘Out of Time’ won ‘Best Alternative Music Album,’ while the song ‘Losing My Religion’ won ‘Best Short Form Music Video’ and ‘Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal’. In 2007, the group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Personal History and Legacies
Around 1992, rumors circulated that he had contracted AIDS, but Stipe stated that he did not initiate the rumor and had no idea who did.
By 1994, questions about his sexuality had arisen, and he stated that he was attracted to and had relationships with both men and women. In 2001, he revealed that he had been in a three-year relationship with “an amazing man.”
Estimated Net Worth
Michael Stipe’s net worth is $75 million.