Michael Edward “Mike” Mills the founding member of the alternative rock group R.E.M. was born December 17, 1958 in Orange County, California. Though known primarily as a bass guitarist, backing vocalist, and pianist, his musical repertoire also includes keyboards, guitar, and percussion instruments, and has contributed to many of the band’s musical compositions.As a young boy, Mills attended Northeast High School in Macon, Georgia. 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. later, While attending the University of Georgia they also met Peter Buck and Michael Stipe and the four of them decided to form a band together. Mills, Berry, Buck, and Stipe then 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 credited with being the chief composer behind many of R.E.M.’s songs, including “Nightswimming”, “Find the River”, “At My Most Beautiful”, “Why Not Smile”, “Let Me In”, “Wendell Gee”, “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”, “Beat a Drum”, “Be Mine” and “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?”. In particular, R.E.M.’s 2004 album Around the Sun was heavily shaped by Mills’ piano and keyboard contributions. Mills is also responsible for the prominent backing vocal and harmony parts found within the band’s back catalogue, with his vocal contributions arguably being most noticeable on 1986′s Lifes Rich Pageant and 2008′s Accelerate. In addition to providing backing melodies, he has also sung lead vocals on the songs “Texarkana”, “Near Wild Heaven”, The Clique cover “Superman” and The Troggs cover “Love is All Around”. Mills also recorded a brief piano part for the song “Soma” from The Smashing Pumpkins’ 1993 album Siamese Dream, which was recorded in Georgia
He also Provided backing Vocals for I992′s Automatic For The People, A more sombre, reflective album that features string arrangements by Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones. This album was also to yeild some wonderful songs like “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight” and “Everybody Hurts”. The band’s next two albums Monster and New Adventures In Hi-Fi were largely recorded live – some tracks taken from soundchecks taken during the massive stadium tour, and featured some new classics, such as Let Me In, a tribute to the recently deceased Kurt Cobain. Mills is also known for his collection of Nudie suits, which he often wears on stage, these are named after a Russian-born American tailor named Nudie Cohn who designed decorative rhinestone-covered suits, known popularly as “Nudie Suits”, and other elaborate outfits for some of the most famous celebrities of his era. Mills was first seen wearing one of these suits in the 1994 video for “What’s the Frequency, Kenneth?” and then throughout the band’s subsequent 1995 tour.
Unfortunately drummer Bill Berry suffered a brain aneurysm to and quit the band in 1997, and things never quite returned to the giddy heights of “Out of Time” and Moments of brilliance, such as The Great Beyond or Imitation Of Life, became less frequently. Leading some band members to pursue side-projects, Stipe increasingly pusued his film work,while Peter Buck concentrated more on his country supergroup Tired Pony. Despite this REM continued to be unbeatable live performers to the end and their final album, Collapse Into Now, was hailed, like many of its predecessors, as a return to form. Certainly, the band sounded rejuvenated and a lot more energetic than on some of the previous work. They also re-released an earlier album ”Lifes Rich Pageant” and in 2011 they released a definitive greatest hits Double CD album, entitled: “R.E.M., PART LIES, PART HEART, PART TRUTH, PART GARBAGE, 1982 – 2011. ″ which contained tracks from the band’s entire back catalogue, including tracks from both the IRS and Warner years plus three brand-new songs, as a final farewell.