In May of 1983, I was asked by a publicist if I wanted to do a shoot with a new band from Georgia called REM. So a week later, I drove over to a venue called Park West in Chicago, and found four very quiet and shy guys lounging around the dressing room after sound check. I dragged them all outside across the street and posed them on a statue in a small park. They had no idea why they were there, but they were very nice about the shoot.
In April of 1985, their publicist called me and asked me if I would like to go down to Athens and spend a day with them. The had a new album “Fables of the Reconstruction” coming out, and I was offered the band for a day of photography. I flew down to Atlanta, rented a car and drove to Athens and pulled up at their manager’s house. He jumped in and we drove to Michael Stipe’s house, where the band was waiting. Stipe jumped into my car, the rest of the band jumped into another car, and Stipe started directing me through the woods to one great shooting location after another. I kept waiting to turn the corner and see guys on a porch with banjos playing the theme to “Deliverence” but no such luck. After about five hours of this, we went back to Stipe’s house where I had left some lights and backgrounds and we did a few studio sessions. In my entire career, both before and after, I have never produced as much rich and varied material in a one day period!
It seemed that every time they came to town, I would do another shoot with them for one purpose or another. One trip to the suburbs found me hanging around with the band and Gary Zeckley, the guy who wrote “Superman” on of their big hits.
In March of 1989, I flew to Iowa to photograph them for Time magazine for an article about their “Green” album. Put them on stage and had their lighting guy turn on all the green lights on stage.
Then the band became huge, and access was immediately cut off. I never shot them again, but I ran into Peter Buck a few times when I was working with Brian Wilson. He was like a little kid around Brian. Every time we would play Seattle, he and Eddie Vedder would be waiting in line to get backstage to shake Brian’s hand after the show. It was always fun to help them out in those situations.
Last week the band called it quits. It will be interesting to see what they do next.