On This Day, April 5, 1980: R.E.M. play their first-ever show

On This Day, April 5, 1980…

R.E.M. played their first-ever show at a friend’s birthday party at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in their home city of Athens, Georgia, although at the time they were unnamed. The band — vocalist Michael Stipe, bassist Mike Mills, guitarist Peter Buck and drummer Bill Berry — performed a set filled with originals and covers of 1960s and 1970s tracks.

The band became a huge local success and eventually recorded their first single, “Radio Free Europe,” in 1981, which became a hit. They recorded their debut EP, Chronic Town, in October of 1981, and it was released on I.R.S. records in August of 1982, with their debut album, Murmur, dropping in 1983.

R.E.M. went on to release 15 studio albums, seeing a huge commercial success with 1991’s Out of Time, featuring the hit “Losing My Religion,” and 1992’s Automatic for the People, which featured such classics as “Man on the Moon” and “Everybody Hurts.”

R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2007 in their first year of eligibility. The band officially disbanded in September 2011.

While the full band hasn’t played together in years, they did reunite in February at the 40 Watt Club in Athens for Michael Shannon and musician Jason Narducy‘s concert celebrating the 40th anniversary of Murmur. Stipe did not perform, but Buck, Berry and Mills did join Shannon and Narducy for several songs.

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