Friday, May 1, 2015

That Time The Drummer From REM Told Me He Had a Dog Named Gerry

From the internet

Bill Berry, I learned early on, is a funny guy. It was October 4, 1982, the first time I met the four members of REM and watched them perform LIVE at what would become my all time favorite venue to catch cutting edge bands on the rise to super stardom. The Living Room in Providence, Rhode Island.

I was beyond excited to see REM perform, after being instantly hooked on their debut, six-song EP Chronic Town. Like most other fans, I was dying for more music than just those six songs.
And I nearly fainted when I heard they would be playing at the Living Room. The venue maybe held three hundred.

A few of us from from the station arrived early and were escorted to the back room of the small club. And I mean teeny room. The door opened and there they all were, hunched over and eating from plates on their laps. Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, and Bill Berry. They all stopped what they were doing and got up and introduced themselves.

From the internet
Such southern hospitality. Then we were offered food. For anyone who knew the inner workings of the Living Room, it was run by brothers Brian and Randy Hien, and their mother cooked food for all of the bands that played there. And the back room, which was no bigger than the average den in a home, was the dressing room AND backstage meet-and-greet room. Party room. If there were twenty people in that tight room, you would all be rubbing elbows. Over the years that would follow that first night meeting the guys from REM, I would meet so many other rock stars that would go on to bigger and better things - like INXS, The Ramones, Cyndi Lauper, Billy Idol, Dave Edmunds, The Alarm, Bow Wow Wow, Gang of Four, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Violent Femmes, Ministry, and on and on.

After sharing that home-cooked meal with the guys from REM, we had a couple of drinks and talked about music. Michael Stipe and Peter Buck cornered me at one point and grilled me on what we were playing on the station. We shared our current likes and dislikes. Talked about the music scene in Athens, Georgia where they were from. It was an amazing night, and I had yet to see REM perform.

Just before they went on stage, the guys signed some swag for us to give away to station listeners - posters and album jackets. Then I had them sign my personal copy of Chronic Town. When it came time for Bill Berry to sign, he just looked at me and said, "I used to have a dog named Gerry."

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