I first saw REM in a small bar across from UNCG on Tate Street in Greensboro, NC. I knew the owners of the club and went their all the time because they alway had really good bands playing. Apparently they decided to splurge on their advertising budget and ran a picture of REM in the paper. What gives methinks, probably worth checking out. I got their fairly early and to be honest their equipment looked pretty crappy. Once they started I was mesmerized. Michael Stipe did this wild dancing around like he had no bones in his body, Peter Buck looked so cool jumping around, Mike Mills was playing a clear bass, I have not seen one like before or since, and he was a bundle of energy and vocal talent, and Bill Berry drove them fast and furious and provided amazing harmonies. I have never ever ever seen a better live band or a more inspired performance. There were not very many people there, kind of a dissapointing turnout, but you never would have know it by the amazing show we saw. I went home that night and sat in front of my drumset wondering if I would every play again. I saw the future of music, it was REM. The next time they played at Friday’s I got their pretty early, the members of REM were all sitting around a table, I went up and told them that they were the best band I had ever seen and they were going to be huge stars. Michael Stipe cocked his head and looked at me as if he did not hear me, Peter Buck gave me a bored, wry smile, Bill Berry looked at me like he wanted to fight and Mike Mills smiled at me and said thanks a lot, I don’t know about that, we just really like to play. That night the crowd was much bigger and the performance was tighter and stronger and more energetic than before. I don’t really think they started out planning on being one of the biggest bands in the world, they just had that special something that made their music soothing, frustrating and addictive. When I went off to college around 81 The only record I had was that mimeographed cover 45 of Radio Free Europe and Sitting Still. I went by the record store almost every day when Chronic Town was supposed to be released, after a while they would see me and say its not here yet. REM was like a great secret that you were dying to tell but you felt empowered when no one else knew. My last day of College in December of 1984 I was walking across Campus and REM was blasting out of one of the 3rd floor dorm rooms. I felt like I had turned a whole college on to the sounds of REM. I know this is supposed to be about their influence on the indie music scene, but understand, change starts with the individual. They brough the whole indie music scene and college radio to the forefront of music. Clothes and hair and makeup were all just window dressing, it was the music that mattered. They proved to people that you don’t have to have a certain look to make it big, it is about the sound and the songs and the passion. they made it about the music again, they were true to their fans and never sold out. I guess the biggest impact I can think of that they had was showing everyone what was truly important. The songs were more important than the clothes and the hair of the person singing. REM was my favorite secret and one I knew I could never keep.