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Michael Stipe of REM photographed by Kris Krug.jpg

John Michael Stipe (born January 4, 1960) is an American singer-songwriter best known as the lead singer and lyricist of alternative rock band R.E.M. throughout its history. He is known for his distinctive vocal quality, poetic lyrics and unique stage presence.

Possessing a distinctive voice, Stipe has been noted for the "mumbling" style of his early career. Since the mid 1980s, Stipe sings in "wailing, keening, arching vocal figures" that R.E.M. biographer David Buckley compared to Celtic folk artists and Muslim muezzin. He was in charge of R.E.M.'s visual aspect, often selecting album artwork and directing many of the band's music videos. Outside the music industry, he owns and runs two film production studios, C-00 and Single Cell Pictures.

As a member of R.E.M., Stipe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. As a singer-songwriter, Stipe influenced a wide range of artists, including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Bono of U2 described his voice as "extraordinary" and Thom Yorke told The Guardian that Stipe is his favourite lyricist, saying "I loved the way he would take an emotion and then take a step back from it and in doing so make it so much more powerful."

Early life and education[]

John Michael Stipe was born on January 4, 1960, in Decatur, Georgia, to Marianne and John Stipe. He was a military brat; his father was a serviceman in the United States Army whose career resulted in frequent relocations for his family. His younger sister, Lynda Stipe, was born in 1962 and became the vocalist of her own band Hetch Hetchy. Stipe and his family moved to various locales during his childhood, including West Germany, Texas, Illinois, and Alabama. In 1978, he graduated from high school in Collinsville, Illinois. His senior photo is pictured in the album art work of Eponymous. Stipe also worked at the local Waffle House. He was raised in and came from "a place of faith", as previous generations of his family were Methodist ministers.

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