R.E.M. were an alternative rock band formed in Athens, Georgia, United States in 1980. The band originally consisted of Michael Stipe (vocals), Peter Buck (guitar, mandolin), Mike Mills (bass, keyboards, vocals) and Bill Berry (drums, vocals). Berry retired from the band in October 1997 after having suffered a brain aneurysm in 1995. R.E.M. released its first single, " Radio Free Europe ", in 1981 on the independent record label Hib-Tone . The single was followed by the Chronic Town EP in 1982, the band's first release on I.