Friday, June 29

R.E.M. with Peter H - MTV Unplugged 1991, etc.

R.E.M. with Peter Holsapple
(various venues, years, etc.)
Repercussion: The dB’s and R.E.M. have all kinds of ties through the years (see below). Here, I’ve hand-picked some choice tracks, many of which are R.E.M. with Peter H singing lead vocals. The MTV Unplugged set is a nifty R.E.M. acoustic show with Peter as accordion and mandolin-playing sideman. Stay with this one until you get to the bonus tracks…

BIG THANKS to the tapers, uploaders, Margaret Griffis for permission to use her great photo, and Ed A for the inspiration
Peter and Peter, jamming in 1984 
photo by Margaret Griffis via Flickr
Maxwell's, Hoboken, NJ (aud.)
01 Sloop John B
02 Judy

Hobo's, Knoxville, TN (aud.)
03 Neverland

MTV Unplugged (DVD audio rip)
Chelsea Studios, NYC
1991-04-10 (R.E.M.’s first MTV Unplugged session)
04 Half a World Away
05 Disturbance at the Heron House
06 Radio Song
07 Low
08 Perfect Circle
09 Fall On Me
10 Belong
11 Love is All Around
12 It's the End of the World as We Know It
13 Losing My Religion
14 Pop Song '89

The dB’s were the first group 
to perform at
the R.E.M. Tribute Show in 2009

Mountain Stage, Charleston, WV (pre-FM soundboard)
15 White Train
R.E.M. Tribute Concert (aud.)
Carnegie Hall, NYC
16 Fall On Me (The dB’s cover R.E.M.)
so-so recording of a strong performance

Viacom, which owns MTV, said this was
a copyright violation, so I yanked 'em.
Peter Buck plays on “Black & White” during The dB’s opening set for an R.E.M. show in 1984
Page Auditorium, Duke University, Durham, NC photo by Batchain

  • Chris Stamey forms The dB's in NYC a year or so before R.E.M. got started in Athens, GA. Having in common a southern upbringing and similar musical tastes (eg, Television & Big Star), R.E.M. looks up to The dB's, who were pioneers in the DIY American indie rock scene.
  • In early 1981, R.E.M. manager Jefferson Holt asks Peter Holsapple about possible producers for some of their first professional studio recordings. Peter H recommends that they look up his childhood friend Mitch Easter in Winston-Salem, NC. (If you know much about R.E.M.'s early recordings, all I have to say at this point is "the rest is history.")
  • R.E.M. opens for The dB's at Friday's in Greensboro, NC on Oct. 20, 1981 (see music post HERE).
  • After the live tour following the release of Repercussion, members of The dB's are at loose ends. R.E.M. invites Peter H to open for them as a solo, acoustic act. Peter H does exactly that at about two dozen shows in Oct. and Nov. of 1982.  (The first 3 tracks above are from a couple of these shows.)
  • At the time the album Like This is released, The dB's open for R.E.M. early Sept. to mid Oct. 1984.
  • Peter Buck uses his pull at R.E.M.'s label, IRS Records, to lobby the powers-that-be to sign The dB's to the IRS roster. It happens in early 1987.
  • After the release of The dB's The Sound of Music album on IRS Records in August of 1987, the band once again opens for R.E.M. on the latter's "Work Tour." The dB's play numerous opening slots from late Oct. through the end of Nov. in 1987. Ironically, The Sound of Music goes out of print while The dB's are on tour because IRS devotes most of its vinyl-pressing capacity to produce more copies of R.E.M.'s increasingly-popular Document album, which features the hit song "The One I Love."
  • After The dB's call it quits in 1988, Peter H is invited to join R.E.M. as a touring musician with the band, mainly playing additional guitar and keyboard. He plays with R.E.M. for nearly all dates of the "Green World Tour" in 1989.
  • Peter H joins R.E.M. in the recording studio in late 1990 as they work on tracks for their next album, Out of Time (including the eventual U.S. Top 10 hit, "Losing My Religion"). He also joins them for the promotional tour in 1991 which followed the release of the album. One of these is the Mountain Stage appearance in April from which the above track, "White Train," was taken.
  • Following reported differences over credit and compensation for the R.E.M. songs on which Peter H played (those that were commercially released), he is not invited to join the band for the Automatic for the People recording sessions or subsequent promotional appearances. Afterwards, all parties downplay the significance of any differences, and continue to praise each others' personal character and musical accomplishments.
  • The dB's are invited to perform at a tribute show, "The Music of R.E.M. at Carnegie Hall," in 2009 (see above). The dB's are first on the bill, performing "Fall On Me." 


  1. Your posting not only brought back some good memories, but provided a lot of new and cool info.

    I saw Peter Holsapple open for REM at the Milestone club in 1982 (the usual cost had increased a dollar and the cover was now $4.00). I can still recall that there was technical sound difficulty during his set and I was peeved (it was quite an honor to see/hear him perform). His closing song was "Neverland" which was electric (3/4ths of REM joining him on stage). About six months later, I saw Chris Stamey perform at the same club. Peter Holsapple is a class act!

    1. I am jealous that you saw those guys at The Milestone! And to think I was living in Charlotte at the time, but too oblivious to know better and go see the shows there...


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