Bertis Edwin Downs, IV
(born July 13 1956
provided legal counsel
for initial contracts
) and then became
both counselor and manager for the rock band R.E.M.
, taking over from the band's long-term manager
. He is usually
credited simply as the band's "Advisor".
It was R.E.M.'s now-retired drummer, Bill
, who instigated Downs' connection with the band.
Georgia-based Berry felt guilty about still being around
rock'n'roll, and decided to step into
the "real world". When he told his work colleagues of his
plans, John Huie, a rep for the booking company Berry worked for at
the time, told him to look up Downs, who he knew from Davidson College but was now studying at
the University of
Downs attended an R.E.M. show at the 11.11 Koffee Club in Athens on
. By that
time, Downs also knew Peter Buck
Wuxtry Records, where he would buy Neil
records. “I thought they were great,” he said, looking
back nineteen years later on VH1
's Behind the Music
. In fact, he was so
impressed by what he saw that he proceeded to tell the band that
they would one day be bigger than the
. Downs and the band immediately forged a friendship.
“They started asking me questions about copyright
issues, the first time they had a
recording agreement they needed me to have a look at,” Downs
explains. “They knew that I was just out of law school and was just
getting started as a lawyer, and I certainly didn’t claim any
particular expertise. I learned by the seat of my pants. I worked
with them as a volunteer, just helping out, and gradually over the
next couple of years it became more like a real job, and, all these
years later, that’s kind of still what it is.”
band's 2007 induction into the Rock & Roll
Hall of Fame, Downs -- often referred to by the band as the
fifth member of R.E.M.
-- was inadvertently omitted from
's lengthy thank you
remarks, an error which Mike Mills
quickly corrected between songs. Stipe then added that Downs was
supposed to be the last thanked.
Downs graduated cum laude
from Davidson College
with a Bachelor of Arts
degree in history in 1978.
he graduated from the University of
Georgia Law School, and he is currently an Adjunct Professor in the
UGA Law School teaching Entertainment
Law and Music Law.