Happy birthday to one of the more talented and more down-to-earth stars of the Alternative Rock world. Mike Mills was born on this day in 1958 in California. Luckily for the music world, as was the case with bandmate Peter Buck, his parents moved the family to Georgia when Mike was young and he met drummer Bill Berry in Macon, formed a group and then met Michael Stipe and Peter Buck when they went to Athens for university. The rest, as they say, is history.
Mills was likely the most-talented musician in R.E.M., playing bass for them but also capable of handling drums, keyboards of all variety and even guitars to assist their main six-stringer, Peter Buck at times to. While he added the distinctive counter-melodies to Michael Stipe on a number of their hits, he also sang lead on a few of their memorable tunes, including covers of “Love Is All Around” and “Yellow River” and two great ones from Out of Time: “Texarkana” and “Near Wild Heaven.” As to their success, he told the Guardian a few years back that “it’s a balancing act. You want to be grateful and graceful (but) not let it go to your heads. That was one of the reasons we never moved to New York City. Staying in Athens helped us keep our feet on the ground.”
Never one to let dust settle under his feet, when not with R.E.M. (and since then) he’s worked with artists like Warren Zevon, Robbie Robertson and the Indigo Girls and recently has been touring with a violinist, Robert McDuffie and a classical ensemble, plus members of the Drive-by Truckers in a mix of classical and rock .Noteworthy enough is it that the Wall Street Journal reviewed it, calling it “strong on melody but weak on classical fluency.” When not making music, Mike’s likely watching sports – he is a fantasy football star and has written articles about his beloved Atlanta Braves for publications including Rolling Stone.