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R.E.M. Look Back

Page 3 of 4

7 Sydney 1995
[ Photograph by Tom Sheehan ]

Buck: That was the Monster tour. The playing part was good. But Bill almost died. [Berry suffered a double brain aneurysm in Switzerland and underwent emergency surgery. He recovered, and the tour resumed.] I think it made him rethink a lot about his life. He never toured again. By the end, everyone was burned out. In a way, that picture says, "I'll be glad to get this over with."

Mills: We'd been going for fifteen years. Then life caught up with us. If you brush death like that, it plants a seed in your mind – you can't be twenty-two forever.

Stipe: There was a period when it was hit-and-miss – nine days when Bill could have died. He came through it intact. But something was lost and changed when he left [in 1997]. There was a chemistry we had as a four-piece; we've come to another chemistry, but it took us so long to do it.

8 Miami 1992
[ Photograph by Anton Corbijn ]

Stipe: That was in Miami. It's on the inside sleeve of Automatic for the People [1992]. I was being swept out to sea and drowning [laughs]. Anton is much taller than me, and I was in deeper water than he was. There was a strong undertow. I had just been engulfed by a wave, and was gasping for air when he got the shot. But Anton has taken some of the best and most generous images of me. I will do anything he asks me to. His eye reigns supreme. I was thrilled the first time he came to Georgia in 1988 to photograph our little band. I knew who he had worked with – U2, Joy Division – and that was a big deal to me.

9 Los Angeles 1994
[ Photograph by Anton Corbijn ]

Stipe: I'm dropping my pants in Los Angeles. It was after Madonna's Sex book came out, with the picture of her hitchhiking [nude]. That's Sunset Boulevard in the background. Nobody stopped. But I got some good looks.

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »
 
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