R.E.M.'s Mike Mills Explains Leaking David Letterman's Retirement

Also, watch late night host's announcement

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When news broke that David Letterman would be retiring from late-night television after three decades, the source of the news got nearly as much attention as the news itself. That's because it was former R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills – a guest on Thursday's show – who was the first to make it to Twitter. In a backstage video, he said he considered whether or not it would be prudent to beat Letterman to the punch of announcing his own retirement but then he decided to go ahead with it.

How David Letterman Reinvented TV

"I figured there's 300 people in the audience all tweeting the same thing so I figured it's all right," Mills said. And now, in his words, he has "about 100 more [Twitter followers] than I did 10 minutes ago."

Mills estimated that he made his first appearance on a Letterman show in 1983, when R.E.M. performed "Radio Free Europe" on Late Night, as well as an early version of "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)," "which didn't have a title because it was so new."

Letterman had spent 32 years as a late-night fixture when he made his retirement announcement, viewable below, on Thursday's program. "The man who owns this network, Leslie Moonves, he and I have had a relationship for years and years and years, and we have had this conversation in the past, and we agreed that we would work together on this circumstance and the timing of this circumstance," he said. "And I phoned him just before the program, and I said, 'Leslie, it's been great. You've been great. And the network has been great, but I'm retiring."

Letterman hopes 2015 will be his last year, "for the love of God," and took a minute to poke fun at bandleader Paul Shaffer. "What this means now is that Paul and I can be married," he said.

David Letterman's Full Retirement Announcement