Mike Mills

For other uses, see Mike Mills (disambiguation).
Mike Mills

Mills performing with R.E.M. in 2008
Background information
Birth name Michael Edward Mills
Born (1958-12-17) December 17, 1958
Orange County, California
United States
Genres Alternative rock, folk rock,[1] college rock, jangle pop
Occupation(s) Musician, composer, music producer
Instruments Bass guitar, vocals, guitar, piano, accordion, percussion
Years active 1980–present
Associated acts R.E.M., Hindu Love Gods, The Backbeat Band, Automatic Baby, The Baseball Project, Big Star's Third

Michael Edward "Mike" Mills (born December 17, 1958) is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, and composer who was a founding member of the alternative rock band R.E.M.[2] Though known primarily as a bass guitarist, backing vocalist, and pianist, his musical repertoire also includes keyboards, guitar, and percussion instruments. He contributed to a majority of the band's musical compositions.

Early life

Michael Edward Mills was born in Orange County, California and moved to Macon, Georgia when he was 10 years old. Mills met Bill Berry, who would later be his bandmate in R.E.M., in Macon.[3]

Mills and Bill Berry started out in bands together. Early projects included the band Shadowfax (later called The Back Door Band).[3]

Mills attended the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, which is where R.E.M. formed.[4]


Mills is credited with being the chief composer behind many of R.E.M.'s songs, including "Nightswimming",[5] "Find the River", "At My Most Beautiful", "Why Not Smile", "Let Me In", "Wendell Gee", "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville",[5] "Beat a Drum", "Be Mine" and "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?". In particular, R.E.M.'s 2004 album Around the Sun was heavily shaped by Mills' piano and keyboard contributions.

Mills is also responsible for the prominent backing vocal and harmony parts found within the band's back catalogue, with his vocal contributions arguably being most noticeable on 1986's Lifes Rich Pageant and 2008's Accelerate. In addition to providing backing vocals, he has also sung lead vocals on the songs "Texarkana", "Near Wild Heaven", The Clique cover "Superman" and The Troggs cover "Love is All Around".

Mills performing in 2004

Mills said there is no possibility of an R.E.M. reunion.[6] Mills described it as "31 wonderful years and the opportunity to end it on our own terms."[7] The band had been talking about disbanding since 2008.[8]

Mills continues to write music and perform with friends on various projects.[9] In 2012, Mills contributed piano playing to a Record Store Day single released by Drive-By Truckers member, Patterson Hood, in protest of a Walmart development being built in Athens, Georgia.[10]

Mills is a member, along with Steve Wynn, Scott McCaughey, Peter Buck, and Linda Pitmon, of The Baseball Project.[11]

Mills also performs as part of singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur's band.[12]On April 3, 2014, while performing with musical guest Joseph Arthur, Mills broke the news that David Letterman would be retiring in 2015.[13] Mills took a band selfie that he posted to Instagram[14] and did a short interview about "breaking" the story[15]

Since 2010, Mills has played with a rotating group of musicians for a series of concerts built around Big Star's seminal album, Third/Sister Lovers. Known as Big Star's Third, the concerts have taken place in London, Sydney, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York.[16]

A longtime Big Star fan, Mills wrote the liner notes for the 2014 reissue of the band's first two releases, 1972's #1 Record and 1974's Radio City.[17]

In 2016, he toured to support a Concerto for Violin, Rock Band, and String Orchestra with childhood friend Robert McDuffie.[18]


For releases with R.E.M., see R.E.M. discography.

Personal life

Annoyed at what he characterized "lazy journalism" surrounding comments about Michael Stipe (and whether he was out of the closet or not), Mills and guitarist Peter Buck "announced via YouTube that they were finally coming out too ... as straight."[21]

Mills is an avid fantasy sports player, with interest in NFL, NBA, and PGA teams, among others.[22]

Notes and references

  1. Stipe, Carrey Duet On R.E.M. - Penned Soundtrack
    Retrieved 20 June 2016
  2. Ankeny, Jason. "Mike Mills Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  3. 1 2 Evans, Brad (August 12, 2013). "An Interview with Mike Mills of REM". 11th Hour. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  4. Kretsch, Ron (March 7, 2014). "R.E.M.'s Mike Mills on 'Live! with Regis and Kathie Lee'" (YouTube clip). Dangerous Minds. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  5. 1 2 Hyden, Steven (16 November 2011). "R.E.M.'s Mike Mills". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  6. Greene, Andy (May 15, 2013). "R.E.M. Bassist Mike Mills: 'There Are Zero Plans For a Reunion'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  7. Cruz, Gilbert (November 14, 2011). "R.E.M.'s Mike Mills on Saying Goodbye After Three Decades". Time. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  8. Jarnow, Jesse. "R.E.M.'s Mike Mills Says Split Was Gestating Since '08". Spin. SpinMedia. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  9. Hyden, Steven (November 16, 2011). "R.E.M.'s Mike Mills". A.V. Club. Onion Inc. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  10. 1 2 Kane, Tyler (February 1, 2012). "Patterson Hood, Mike Mills of R.E.M. Record Walmart Protest Song". Paste Magazine. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  11. Leggett, Steve. "The Baseball Project - Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  12. Glide (November 14, 2013). "R.E.M.'s Mike Mills Joins Joseph Arthur's Touring Band". Glide Magazine. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  13. Testa, Jessica (3 April 2014). "David Letterman Is Retiring From "The Late Show"". BuzzFeed. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  14. Ryan, Shane (3 April 2014). "David Letterman Will Retire in 2015". Paste Magazine. Paste Media Group. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  15. Breihan, Tom (3 April 2014). "R.E.M.'s Mike Mills Announces David Letterman's Retirement" (YouTube video). Stereogum. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  16. Matheson, Whitney (September 2, 2014). "Q&A: R.E.M.'s Mike Mills chats about Big Star reissues". USA Todaya. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  17. News Staff. "Big Star's first two albums to be remastered and reissued". uncut.co.uk. Uncut. Retrieved 28 September 2014.
  18. Grow, Kory (October 19, 2016). "R.E.M. Bassist on 'Breaking Down Walls Between Classical and Rock'". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media.
  19. "Mike Guests on Jason Ringenberg's New Album Nature Jams". R.E.M. 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
  20. "Weekend Update: Record Store Day, Dresden, Will Rock 4 Food, Futurebirds, Finster, and Future Music". R.E.M. 2012-04-20. Retrieved 2012-04-22.
  21. Westhoff, Ben (June 16, 2008). "R.E.M.'s Mike Mills on 'Accelerate,' Obama, and His New Life As a Heterosexua l". Vulture - New York. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
  22. Tierney, Mike (April 20, 2013). "Mike Mills: A Rock Star of Fantasy Sports". New York Times. Retrieved 3 April 2014.
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