Mike Mills

Michael EdwardMikeMills (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.

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

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


Mills is credited with being the chief composer behind many of R.E.M.’s songs, including “Nightswimming”, “Find the River”, “At My Most Beautiful”, “Why Not Smile”, “Let Me In”, “Wendell Gee”, “(Don’t Go Back To) Rockville”, “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 said there is no possibility of an R.E.M. reunion. Mills described it as “31 wonderful years and the opportunity to end it on our own terms.” The band had been talking about disbanding since 2008.

Mills continues to write music and perform with friends on various projects. 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.

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

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

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.

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.

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


For releases with R.E.M., see R.E.M. discography.
  • 1984 – Hindu Love Gods – “Gonna Have a Good Time Tonight”/”Narrator”.
  • 1985 – Full Time Men– Full Time Men, organ on “One More Time”
  • 1987 – Warren Zevon – Sentimental Hygiene on “Sentimental Hygiene”, “Boom Boom Mancini”, “The Factory”, “Trouble Waiting to Happen”, “Detox Mansion”, “Bad Karma”, “Even a Dog Can Shake Hands”, and “The Heartache”
  • 1987 – Waxing Poetics– Hermitage, production
  • 1988 – Billy James – Sixes and Sevens, production
  • 1988 – The Cynics – “What’s It Gonna Be”/”Roadrunner” (live)
  • 1989 – Kevn Kinney – MacDougal Blues
  • 1989 – Indigo Girls – Indigo Girls, bass guitar on “Tried to Be True”
  • 1989 – Vibrating Egg – Come On in Here If You Want To, writing and performance
  • 1990 – Mike Mills wrote music for Howard Libov’s short film Men Will Be Boys
  • 1990 – Hindu Love Gods – Hindu Love Gods
  • 1990 – Hindu Love Gods – “Raspberry Beret”
  • 1991 – Nikki Sudden – The Jewel Thief
  • 1991 – Nikki Sudden – “I Belong to You”
  • 1991 – The Troggs – Athens, Andover
  • 1991 – Robbie Robertson – Storyville, singing on “Shake This Town”
  • 1992 – Jane Pratt Show theme music
  • 1993 – Automatic Baby – “One”
  • 1993 – The Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream, piano on “Soma”
  • 1993 – Three Walls Down – Building Our House, production
  • 1993 – Three Walls Down – “Steps”/”Wooden Nails”/”Faith in These Times” (live)
  • 1994 – Backbeat soundtrack
  • 1994 – Victoria Williams – Loose, vocals on “You R Loved”
  • 2000 – Christy McWilson – The Lucky One
  • 2006 – Various artists – Big Star Small World, bass guitar on “The Ballad of El Goodo”, with Matthew Sweet
  • 2006 – Mike Mills and Sally Ellyson – “Jesus Christ”, a Big Star song covered for a charity single for the Red Apple Foundation
  • 2007 – Mudville – Iris Nova, piano on “Eternity”
  • 2008 – Modern Skirts – All of Us in Our Night, production on “Motorcade”
  • 2008 – The Baseball Project – Volume 1: Frozen Ropes and Dying Quails
  • 2009 – Favorite Son soundtrack – “Gift of the Fathers”
  • 2009 – Jill Hennessy – Ghost in My Head, backing vocals on “Erin”
  • 2009 – The Baseball Project – Homerun EP
  • 2010 – Various artists – The Voice Project, cover of Billy Bragg’s “Sing Their Souls Back Home”
  • 2011 – The Baseball Project – Volume 2: High and Inside
  • 2011 – The Baseball Project – The Broadside Ballads
  • 2012 – Jason Ringenberg – Nature Jams – vocals on one track[19]
  • 2012 – Patterson Hood & The Downtown 13 – “After It’s Gone”/”Unspoken Pretties” – performance on A-side, single released for Record Store Day[20][10]
  • 2014 – The Baseball Project – 3rd

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.”

Mills is an avid fantasy sports player, with interest in NFL, NBA, and PGA teams, among others.[22] He is also a fan of Georgia Bulldogs football, the University he attended in Athens, GA.

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