Athens, Ga., has a long and storied musical history that dates all the way back to the Civil War. So when a young art student named Michael Stipe met a record store clerk named Peter Buck, it was only natural that they put a band together to join in the already thriving music scene in town. After Mike Mills and Bill Berry filled out the band’s rhythm section, the quartet played their first show in 1980 at a birthday party. The following year, they recorded ‘Radio Free Europe’ and took their first steps toward becoming one of the biggest bands in the world. Relentless touring and recording earned the band attention from college radio stations. By the time the ‘90s rolled around, the single, ‘Losing My Religion,’ insured the band’s position in the mainstream. Although R.E.M. disbanded in 2011, they left behind a rich and extensive catalog capable of keeping even the most ardent music fans busy for quite a while.

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