Image via Nottingham Press | Cover photo by Bob Crisler
The story of of one of college rock’s most foundational bands is told anew in John Hunter’s hefty biography “Maps and Legends: The Story of R.E.M.,” which chronicles the group from formation to first single “Radio Free Europe” up through swan song Collapse Into Now and beyond.
Publisher Nottingham Press calls the book “the most thorough and comprehensive biography of R.E.M. yet published.” The biography was released digitally as an e-book late last year by Apple Books, and a 706-page trade paperback is set to be published April 3, according to Nottingham Press.
Hunter’s book explores the childhoods of future bandmates Bill Berry, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Michael Stipe, traces their musical evolution through their teenage groups like Bad Habits and Shadowfax and onto the formation of R.E.M. and subsequent global superstardom. Not only does the new biography trace R.E.M. through the band’s breakup in 2011, it delves into the solo work of Buck, Mills and Stipe.
Unable to interview the bandmembers — “The guys are through talking about themselves to biographers,” manager Bertis Downs told Hunter — the author scoured hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles about the band, listened to hundreds of audio and video interviews, and spoke to a variety of old friends, members of the R.E.M. inner circle, producers, label chiefs and other musicians.
Born in 1968 in Raleigh, North Carolina, Hunter as a teenager saw acts ranging from Black Flag, Hüsker Dü and The Replacements to The dB’s, Let’s Active and The Connells. He attended the University of Georgia in R.E.M.’s hometown of Athens from 1986 to 1991, and performed music at haunts including the 40 Watt Club.
“More so than any other biographer, he witnessed firsthand major events in R.E.M.’s career and in the larger Athens music scene during the second half of the 1980s,” Nottingham Press writes.
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