Previously unknown pictures of legendary Athens, Ga., rock band REM from its earliest days don’t quite meet that threshold of rarity, but are interesting in their own right.
And three such pictures came to light in recent days after I wrote a column in late September about the band’s surprise demise.
The three pictures were snapped at a Dec. 6, 1980 concert I attended at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta, which I wrote about in that column (and which, as an aside, took place two nights before former Beatle John Lennon was murdered in NYC).
REM opened for The Police that night at The Fox. And although I had never heard of REM to that point, they left a definite impression on me (as did The Police, I should add). Their raw energy was captivating, as were their songs.
REM had formed just nine months earlier, had not released any vinyl as yet, and had not been noticed in any mainstream music magazines or newspapers. Although there probably are other photos out there taken in the earlier months of their career, I haven’t seen or heard of them. And I had never heard of any from the Fox concert.
So imagine my surprise when I got an email here at work from one Jerome Calderone, who I had never heard of, asking if I would like to see some pictures from that show.
Indeed I would, I replied, and he sent them along.
Calderone, who lives in Florida, is a collector of all things REM, had seen my column online and couldn’t remember how or when he acquired the three pictures in question, which he said were on a computer disc and labeled “Fox Theatre” with the concert’s date.
The pictures, which are poorly lit and apparently were snapped by a fan from the front row of the balcony, show the band in all its early glory. Lead singer Michael Stipe looks almost pudgy. Guitarist Pete Buck, uncharacteristically for those years, was playing a Fender Stratocaster rather than a Rickenbacker guitar. Directly behind drummer Bill Berry is Police drummer Stewart Copeland’s drum set.
The photos brought back some great memories, and I’m happy to share them with you.
Now, if I could just find a bootleg tape of that concert …
Joe Kirby is Editorial Page Editor of the Marietta Daily Journal and author “The Lockheed Plant.”