Mills performing with R.E.M. in 2008
|Birth name||Michael Edward Mills|
17 December 1958 |
Orange County, California
|Genres||Alternative rock, college rock, jangle pop|
|Occupations||Musician, composer, producer|
|Instruments||Bass, vocals, guitar, piano, accordion, percussion|
|Labels||I.R.S., Warner Bros.|
|Associated acts||R.E.M., Hindu Love Gods, The Backbeat Band, Automatic Baby|
Michael Edward "Mike" Mills (born December 17, 1958) is an American multi-instrumentalist and composer who was a founding member of the alternative rock group R.E.M.. Though known primarily as a bass guitarist, backing vocalist, and pianist, his musical repertoire includes also keyboards, guitar, and percussion instruments. He contributed to a majority of the band's musical compositions.
Life and career 
Early life 
Mills was born in Orange County, California. As a young boy, Mills moved with his family to Macon, Georgia and attended Northeast High School in the early 1970s. Mills' father Frank was a singer whose appearances included The Ed Sullivan Show, while his mother Adora was a piano teacher, which helped him develop a love of music at an early age. He met and formed a band with drummer friend Bill Berry in high school. They met Peter Buck and Michael Stipe while attending the University of Georgia.
Mills, Berry, Buck, and Stipe decided to drop out of college and focus on their band, now named R.E.M. The band quickly developed a following and were soon signed to I.R.S. Records.
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 melodies, 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 is also known for his collection of Nudie suits, which he often wore on stage; he was first seen wearing one of these suits in the 1994 video for "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" and then throughout the band's subsequent 1995 tour.
Other work 
Mills co-produced (along with Mitch Easter) Hermitage, the 1987 album by the Virginia-based band Waxing Poetics.
The three active instrumentalists from R.E.M. all performed on Nikki Sudden's 1991 album The Jewel Thief, including the single "I Belong to You". They also joined up with Warren Zevon to form the group Hindu Love Gods for a single self-titled release in 1990, which featured a minor hit in the Prince cover "Raspberry Beret".
In late 2003, Mills briefly joined the "Tell Us the Truth" tour, an anti-war, anti-George W. Bush administration collaboration with Tom Morello (guitarist for Audioslave and Rage Against the Machine, who, like Mills, did a solo acoustic set), Jill Sobule, Steve Earle, Janeane Garofalo, Billy Bragg, and others.
In March 1999, Mills won a NCAA contest (over one thousand other entrants) in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's annual "Final Four Fiasco" contest by correctly picking the final four teams in the 1999 NCAA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament.
Mills played piano on Mudville's 2007 album Iris Nova.
Personal notes 
Mills' father, Frank, died on September 25, 2001, at the age of 65. A singer whose appearances included The Ed Sullivan Show, he had recently retired to Lake Oconee in Greene County, Georgia. In addition to singing, Mills' father had been an airplane pilot for the U.S. Marine Corps. He was laid to rest four days later at the First Methodist Church of Greensboro, Georgia.
- 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"
- 2009 – Favorite Son soundtrack – "Gift of the Fathers"
- 2009 – Jill Hennessy – Ghost in My Head, backing vocals on "Erin"
- 2010 – Various artists – The Voice Project, cover of Billy Bragg's "Sing Their Souls Back Home"
- 2012 – Jason Ringenberg – Nature Jams – vocals on one track
- 2012 – Patterson Hood & The Downtown 13 – "After It's Gone"/"Unspoken Pretties" – performance on A-side, single released for Record Store Day
Mills also produced Athens bands Greenhouse and Purr.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Mike Mills Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
- Hyden, Steven (16 November 2011). "R.E.M.’s Mike Mills". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
- "MIKE GUESTS ON JASON RINGENBERG'S NEW ALBUM NATURE JAMS". R.E.M. 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2012-02-24.
- "WEEKEND UPDATE: RECORD STORE DAY, DRESDEN, WILL ROCK 4 FOOD, FUTUREBIRDS, FINSTER, AND FUTURE MUSIC". R.E.M. 2012-04-20. Retrieved 2012-04-22.