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This article is about Mike Mills, the R.E.M. bassist. Other similar sounding articles include the Irish journalist Michael Mills and Mike Mills .

Michael Edward Mills (born December 17, 1958 in Orange County, Californiamarker) is an American musician and songwriter who is a founding member of the alternative rock group R.E.M.. Though known primarily as a bassist, piano player and background singer, his musical repertoire includes many other keyboard, guitar, string, wind and percussion instruments. He also contributes to much of the band's songwriting.


Early life

As a young boy, he moved with his family to Macon, Georgiamarker and attended Mount de Salesmarker in the early '70s. Mills' father Frank was a singer whose appearances included The Ed Sullivan Show, while his mother Adora was a piano teacher, which helped him develop a love of music at an early age. He met and formed a band with drummer friend Bill Berry in high school. They met Peter Buck, Michael Stipe, and Joe Thomas, a musical influence from the University of Georgia, after starting at the University of Georgiamarker in Athensmarker.


Mills, Berry, Buck, and Stipe decided to drop out of college and focus on their band, now named R.E.M. The band quickly developed a following and were soon signed to I.R.S. Records.

Mills is responsible for the songwriting of many of R.E.M.'s songs, including "Nightswimming", "Find the River", "At My Most Beautiful", "Why Not Smile", "Let Me In", "Wendell Gee", " Rockville", "Beat a Drum", "Be Mine" and "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?". In addition to providing backing melodies, he has also sung lead vocals on "Texarkana", "Near Wild Heaven", The Clique cover "Superman" and The Troggs cover, "Love is All Around".

Mills was arrested for indecent exposure in Athens in the early 1980s, known in R.E.M. lore as "the water tower incident" .

Mills is also known for his collection of Nudie suits that he often wears on stage, and were first seen in the 1994 video for "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" and then regularly on the subsequent 1995 Monster Tour.

R.E.M.'s 2004 album Around the Sun was heavily shaped by Mills' piano and keyboard parts, and he had many prominent vocal parts on the 2008 album Accelerate.

Other work

Mills co-produced (along with Mitch Easter) Hermitage, the 1987 album by the Virginia-based band Waxing Poetics.

The three instrumentalists from R.E.M. all performed on Nikki Sudden's 1991 album The Jewel Thief, including the single "I Belong to You". They also joined up with Warren Zevon to form the group Hindu Love Gods for a single self-titled release in 1990, which featured a minor hit in the Prince cover "Raspberry Beret".

In late 2003, Mills briefly joined the "Tell Us the Truth" tour, an anti-war, anti-Bush administration collaboration with Tom Morello (guitarist for Audioslave and Rage Against the Machine, who, like Mills, did a solo acoustic set), Jill Sobule, Steve Earle, Janeane Garofalo, Billy Bragg, and others.

In March 1999, Mills defeated over one thousand other entrants in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's annual "Final Four Fiasco" contest by correctly picking the final four teams in the 1999 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.

Mills played piano on Mudville's 2007 album Iris Nova.

Mills also recorded a brief piano part for the song "Soma" from The Smashing Pumpkins' 1993 album Siamese Dream, which was recorded in Georgia.

Personal life

Mills has one son, Julian, born in 1989. Mills introduced Julian during a show at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, Colorado, in 1999. Julian was present at R.E.M.'s induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 12, 2007, at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel as well as the Georgia Music Hall of Fame induction in 2006. Julian is now a student at Ole Miss.

Mills' father, Frank, died on September 25, 2001, at the age of 65. A singer whose appearances included The Ed Sullivan Show, he had recently retired to Lake Oconee in Greene County, reported Online Athens at the time. In addition to singing, Mr. Mills had been a pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps. He was laid to rest four days later at the First Methodist Church of Greensboro, Georgia.

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