Artist Biographies

  • R.E.M. Break Up: 'Our Deepest Thanks for Listening' (Billboard)

    Seminal alternative rock group R.E.M. , once arguably the biggest band in the world, called it quits Wednesday (Sept. 21) after 31 years and 15 albums together. In a simple statement on their website , the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers behind landmark albums including 'Document' and 'Automatic for the People' give thanks to fans for sticking with them through a career that saw its share of highs and lows.

    'To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.'

    The remaining three members of the band, singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills, soon chimed in to expand on why they're breaking up now, just six months after releasing their fifteenth album. Mills said the group's latest series of projects helped them come to the decision.

    "During our last tour, and while making 'Collapse Into Now' and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, 'what next'?" Mills said. "Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together."

    Stipe added in a matter-of-fact way that it was just time to "walk away," though it wasn't an easy decision to come to.

    "A wise man once said -- 'the skill in attending a party is knowing when it's time to leave.' We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we're going to walk away from it," he noted. "I hope our fans realize this wasn't an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way."

    Buck noted that the members of the band (including long-departed drummer Bill Berry) may be breaking up but "walk away as great friends." He promises to see fans again, "Even if it's only in the vinyl aisle of your local record store, or standing at the back of the club: watching a group of 19 year olds trying to change the world."

    Since forming as a quartet in 1980, R.E.M. released 15 studio albums, beginning with their seminal 1983 debut "Murmur." An acclaimed string of albums ("Lifes Rich Pageant," the band's fourth full-length, was given a 25th-anniversary reissue last July) and singles ("It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" highlighted 1987's "Document") followed before 1991's "Out of Time" yielded two of the band's biggest hits, "Shiny Happy People" and " Losing My Religion," the latter of which peaked at No. 4 on the Hot 100 and won Video of the Year at the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards.

    The band's eighth studio album, 1992's "Automatic for the People," arguably stands as R.E.M.'s most universally acclaimed full-length, with the ballad "Everybody Hurts" becoming a surprise hit and the Andy Kaufman tribute "Man on the Moon" inspiring the 1999 film of the same name. The band released two more albums, 1994's "Monster" and 1996's "New Adventures in Hi-Fi," before original drummer Bill Berry amicably departed the group in Oct. 1997, prior to the release of 1998's "Up."

    Breakup Playlist: 10 Essential R.E.M. Songs

    After two middling albums, 2001's "Reveal" and 2004's "Around the Sun," R.E.M. was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame upon its first year of eligibility in 2006. The band soon regrouped with producer Jacknife Lee and adopted a fiercer sound for 2008's "Accelerate," which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200.

    The band's 15th studio album, "Collapse Into Now," was released last March, but the group opted not to tour behind the record. "It just doesn't feel right," Mills told Billboard in February. "We've always gone with our gut instinct on everything, and right now it just didn't feel like touring was the thing we needed to do."

    "Collapse Into Now" has sold 142,000 copies, adding to the 19.3 million album sales the band has garnered since the SoundScan era began in 1991, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

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  • What 'Nevermind' Means Now

    The word 'Nirvana' has appeared 1,484 times in the pages of SPIN since 1991; Nevermind , 246 times. (Shout-out, bleary-eyed intern Carly!) Both of these numbers will spike considerably after this issue.

    Sure, SPIN had been making serious mischief for six years before Nevermind 's release, but the cultural landscape that the album's success reflected (and SPIN had been anecdotally documenting) needed a full-blown soapbox, and we were in a unique position. As with many symbiotic, borderline codependent relationships, ours has gone from tentative entreaties to dizzying obsessions to marriages of convenience to tawdry betrayals. Back in 2001, when we published a tenth anniversary Nevermind issue, one letter-writing wag remarked, "So, still pickin' those bones, huh?"

    With this retrospective, we tried to avoid that sort of queasy, pseudo-reverent exploitation, balancing the historical and personal with the playful and forward-thinking. But above all, we just want to say thanks for sticking around and sharing this. See, after all these years, most corporate magazines may still suck, but Nevermind still doesn't, and that's the real issue.

    Here's what you can find in our August 2011 issue.

    Luminaries reflect on Nevermind , from contemporaries like Eddie Vedder, the Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne, Sleater-Kinney, and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, to present-day rock heroes like the Black Keys, the Black Lips, and Against Me!, to Seattle scenesters of the time, to Dave Grohl himself. As you'll see, the effect the record had on music fans and artists alike is as raw and personal now as it was 20 years ago.

    We tapped some of our favorite contemporary artists to cover Nevermind 's 13 songs, in their original order, from Kurt Cobain's personal faves -- the Meat Puppets and the Vaselines -- to up-and-comers like Telekinesis, EMA, and JEFF the Brotherhood. The download is called Newermind , and it's our gift to you.

    SPIN hip-hop columnist Brandon Soderberg explores how Nirvana spoke to the rap scene, chronicling the songs inspired by Nevermind .

    Photographer Kirk Weddle tells the story of an alternate Nevermind album cover that featured a girl baby -- whose identity remains a mystery!

    Album's reissue on September 20th.

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  • Blink-182, Death Cab For Cutie Remember 1991: When Rock Rocked (MTV)

    With Nevermind anniversary weeks away, music's biggest bands reflect on the other indispensible albums from a great year for rock. On September 24, Nirvana's epochal Nevermind album turns 20, a milestone that will be marked with much coverage, celebration and consternation in the media ... not to mention a sundry of other events, including a high-profile benefit concert at Seattle's Experience Music Project and a Jon Stewart-hosted Q&A with Nirvana's surviving members.

    And understandably so. After all, Nevermind was a game-changer in every sense of the term Read more »

  • Amy Winehouse Joins the 27 Club

    Musicians usually included in the 27 Club.

    The impetus for the club's creation were the deaths of Jones, Hendrix, Joplin and Morrison. Cobain, who died in 1994, was later added by some. With the exception of Joplin, there is controversy surrounding their deaths. According to the book Heavier Than Heaven , when Cobain died, his sister claimed that as a kid he would talk about how he wanted to join the 27 Club. On the fifteenth anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death, National Public Radio 's Robert Smith said, "The deaths of these rock stars at the age of 27 really changed the way we look at rock music."The 27s: The Greatest Myth of Rock & Roll details the history of the phenomenon.

    Brian Jones 1965.jpgBrian Jones July 3, 1969 Drowned in a swimming pool. The coroner's report stated "death by misadventure." Rolling Stones founder and guitarist/multi-instrumentalist. 27 years and 125 days
    Jimi Hendrix thumbnail.jpgJimi Hendrix September 18, 1970 Autopsy showed he asphyxiated on vomit after combining sleeping pills with wine.Pioneering electric guitarist, singer and songwriter for The Jimi Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys . 27 years and 295 days
    Janisjoplin.pngJanis Joplin October 4, 1970 Probable heroin overdose.Lead vocalist and songwriter for Big Brother and the Holding Company , The Kozmic Blues Band and Full Tilt Boogie Band. 27 years and 258 days
    Jim Morrison 1970.jpgJim Morrison July 3, 1971 Cause of death listed as "heart failure"; however, no autopsy was performed.Lead singer, songwriter and video director for The Doors . 27 years and 207 days
    Nirvana around 1992.jpgKurt Cobain April 5, 1994 Ruled as suicide by shotgun.Founding member, lead singer, guitarist and songwriter for Nirvana . 27 years and 44 days

    Other musicians who died at 27

    Some lists include other musicians who died at age 27. Cobain and Hendrix biographer Charles R. Cross  writes, "The number of musicians who died at 27 is truly remarkable by any standard. [Although] humans die regularly at all ages, there is a statistical spike for musicians who die at 27."                                                                                       

    Louis Chauvin March 26, 1908 Neurosyphilitic sclerosis. Ragtime musician.
    Robert Johnson August 16, 1938 Unknown, but typically credited to strychnine poisoning. Bluesman. Recorded very famous and influential set of 29 songs that influenced many famous musicians after him, considered the first of the 27 club.
    Nat Jaffe August 5, 1945 Result of complications from high blood pressure . Blues musician.
    Jesse Belvin February 6, 1960 Car crash. R&B singer and songwriter.
    Rudy Lewis May 20, 1964 Drug overdose. Vocalist of The Drifters .
    Malcolm Hale October 31, 1968 Carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty space heater. Original member of Spanky and Our Gang .
    Dickie Pride      March 26, 1969 Overdose of sleeping pills.
    Alan "Blind Owl" Wilson September 3, 1970 Barbiturate overdose, possible suicide. Leader, singer and primary composer of Canned Heat .
    Arlester "Dyke" Christian March 13, 1971 Shot. Frontman and vocalist of Dyke & the Blazers .
    Linda Jones March 14, 1972 Diabetic coma. R&B singer.
    Les Harvey May 3, 1972 Electrocution by live microphone after touching it with his wet hands. Guitarist for Stone the Crows .
    Ron "Pigpen" McKernan March 8, 1973 Gastrointestinal hemorrhage associated with alcoholism. Founding member, keyboardist and singer of the Grateful Dead .
    Roger Lee Durham July 27, 1973 Fell off a horse and died from the injuries. Singer and percussionist of Bloodstone .
    Wallace Yohn August 12, 1974 Died in a plane crash along with three other band members. Organ player of Chase .
    Dave Alexander February 10, 1975 Pulmonary edema. Bassist for the Stooges .
    Pete Ham April 24, 1975 Suicide by hanging. Keyboardist and guitarist, leader of Badfinger .
    Gary Thain December 8, 1975 Drug overdose. Former bassist of Uriah Heep and The Keef Hartley Band.
    Cecilia August 2, 1976 Car crash Spanish singer
    Helmut K Read more »