John Michael Stipe was born in Decatur, Ga. on Jan. 4, 1960. His father was in the military, so the family moved frequently during his childhood years. Stipe has said in interviews he was exposed to very little popular music as a child, but as a teenager he discovered early punk artists like Patti Smith, Television and The Talking Heads. He finally felt like he could identify with a specific type of music.

At the time, Stipe was living in Illinois with his family and formed a short-lived punk band called Bad Habits. His family moved back to Georgia while Stipe finished high school in Illinois and moved to Georgia shortly thereafter.

Stipe began attending the University of Georgia in 1979 and it was during this time that he met Peter Buck at a record store where Buck was working. Stipe eventually dropped out of college to pursue a career in music.

Besides being the frontman for R.E.M., Stipe also dabbles in film. In 1994, he founded Single Cell Productions with Sandy Stern. The company was responsible for the succesful independent films, "The Velvet Goldmine" and "Being John Malkovich."

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