R.E.M’s Michael Stipe Admits He Was Wrong About Being Famous


R.E.M. lead singer and lyricist Michael Stipe recently had a conversation with Wall Street Journal and discussed how his views on fame and talent have changed over the years while admitting that the ‘next generation American-fame seekershave really proven him wrong.

As you probably know, Michael Stipe is one of the most and well-appreciated musicians in the rock scene and he achieved worldwide fame as the singer and songwriter of the famous alternative rock band, R.E.M. He’s known for his distinctive voice but is especially praised for his poetic lyrics and distinct stage presence.

To this day, he has influenced some of the most worthwhile musicians of all time such as Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain and Radiohead’s Thom Yorke. Aside from R.E.M.’s singer and songwriter, Stipe was also in charge of the band’s visual aspect and directed many of the band’s music videos. Furthermore, he owns and runs two film production studios.

The reason I gave so many details about the rockstar’s career was to stress my point that he definitely deserved the fame that he achieved, which he often used to show his support for crucial causes and publicize his activism. During his recent interview, Stipe reflected on what fame meant for him back in the ’90s and what it has become now.

In his recent conversation, Michael said that he recalls a conversation he had with professional basketball player Dennis Rodman late at night, during which the rockstar argued that you need to have talent in order to be famous. Rodman on the other hand told Stipe that being ‘good at being famous is enough’ which didn’t convince the multi-tasking musician.

However, now that the years have passed and he’s witnessed the ‘next generation of American fame-seekers,’ Stipe has started seeing Rodman’s point. He said that he doesn’t know how he would’ve reacted if he’d realized this earlier but remembered the strength it took to acknowledge that fame gives you ‘immense power’ and a ‘platform to put across ideas.’

Michael Stipe reflected on his earlier approach to being famous during a recent interview with Wall Street Journal:

“I had a conversation [about fame] at the Viper Room, probably in the mid-’90s with, of all people, Dennis Rodman, very late at night. I said that it’s not enough to just be famous for being famous and he said, ‘Yes it is.’ I said, ‘You’re wrong,’ and as things moved along with digital technology and the advent of social media, he was actually right and I was wrong. I just said you have to do something, you have to have a skill, the skill can’t just be that you’re good at being famous, that’s not enough.

But the next generation of American fame-seekers has proven me wrong. I don’t know that I would be any more comfortable than I was then with approaching the idea of fame, but I did at some point embrace it and acknowledge that there was immense power in having that platform to put across ideas, whether they’re political or activist or just more humanist ideas.”

You can have a listen to ‘At My Most Beautiful‘ which is considered to be one of Michael Stipe’s masterpieces below.