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Tanzplagen CD Cover.jpg
Background information
OriginAthens, Georgia, United States
GenresNew wave, alternative rock, post-punk, jangle pop
Years active1980–1982
LabelsDasht Hopes, Strangeways, Space Bee Records
Associated actsMontanablue, R.E.M., Oh-OK, Pylon, William Lee Self
Past membersMichael Stipe
David Pierce
Neil McArthur
Lynda Stipe
William Lee Self

Tanzplagen was a rock band formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1980 by Michael Stipe (vocals farfisa organ), David Pierce (drums), Neil McArthur (Bass) and William Lee Self (Guitar).[1]


The band's name (meaning "dancing manias" in German) came about by randomly pointing to words in a German dictionary, the same technique Stipe had employed to find the R.E.M. moniker (except with an English dictionary).[2][3] The band toured the U.S. southeast and recorded a single for David Healy's Dasht Hopes label.[4] In his book "It crawled from the South", Marcus Grey writes: "Determined to pursue his art-noise interests parallel to his more conventional activities with R.E.M., Michael hooked up with William Lee Self, Neil McArthur and David Pierce in Tanzplagen. The connection was strengthened when Oh-OK Lynda Stipe and Linda Hopper contributed backing vocals at a 40 Watt Club appearance that was taped to provide a rough-and ready three track demo. It includes the Self compositions 'Living By the Neck' and 'Peter Pan', and the Stipe-Self song 'meeting'. In addition to further occasional appearances in town and one short local tour Tanzplagen even got as far as recording tracks for a single, intended for release on David Healys ill-fated Dasht Hopes label. The studio chosen was Bombay in Smyrna where back in February R.E.M. had made its first recordings. Neil McArthur had left by the time of the session, and so William Lee Self, the groups real leader, doubled on bass while Lynda Stipe supplied vocals. However it is Michaels contribution to the two songs recorded ('meeting' and Self's 'treason') that Producer Joe Perry remembers: 'Micheal would sing and bang on a Farfisa organ creating a large explosion. It was a different time. Experimental stuff'".[5] Soon later, R.E.M. were signed to IRS and released the Chronic Town EP (which had been recorded for Healy's label's debut release), but the Tanzplagen single went unreleased until 1991 when Strangeways Records brought it out as their inaugural release.[6] The CD includes a duet with Stipe and his sister Lynda and some improvised live recordings that include Linda Hopper, her band mate at the time in the band Oh-OK. Self describes the contents of "The Lost Single and Live at the 40 Watt club, Athens Georgia 1981": "thus I wrote the song 'Living By The Neck' but had no title for it, Stipe came up with the title only meaning 'living by the guitar neck'. We also intentionally booked all our in town shows on full moon nights - this truly made a drastic but wonderful difference in the atmosphere and audiences behaviour." Tanzplagen dissolved in late 1982 when Self relocated to Germany. David Pierce went on to form Buzz Of Delight with Mathew Sweet. Neil McArthur continued his studies at the University of Georgia.

In May 2013, the German label Space Bee Records released a digital version of the "Dasht Hopes Single" along with live recordings from a 40 Watt Club appearance. [7]


  • The Lost Single & Live 40 Watt Club 1981 (Strangeways, 1993)
  • The Dasht Hopes Single // Live 40 Watt Club 1981 (Space Bee Records, 2013) (digital re-issue)


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-09-05. Retrieved 2008-12-04.
  2. ^ Fletcher, Tony: "Remarks Remade: The Story of R.E.M.", Omnibus Press, 2003, pp.47-48
  3. ^ Buckley, David: "R.E.M. Fiction: An Alternative Biography", Virgin Publishing, 2003"
  4. ^ Grey, David: It crawled from the South, Da Capo, 1997, p. 221
  5. ^ Grey, David: It crawled from the South, Da Capo, 1997, p. 221
  6. ^ http://www.william-lee-self.com/tanzplagen/
  7. ^ http://space-bee-records.de/bands/tanzplagen/?lang=en

External links[edit]