Mike Mills was the bassist for R.E.M., arguably the most important and influential American rock band of the post-punk era. Born December 17, 1958, in Orange, CA, he was raised in Macon, GA, and while attending junior high school met drummer Bill Berry. Despite early personality clashes, the two played together in a number of local bands and eventually became best friends, jointly attending the University of Georgia. There they formed R.E.M. with singer Michael Stipe and guitarist Peter Buck; honing an atmospheric, jangly pop sound often reminiscent of the Byrds, the group toured relentlessly prior to issuing their debut single, "Radio Free Europe," on the tiny Hib-Tone label in mid-1981. After the record's success on college radio attracted the attention of IRS Records, they released the Chronic Town EP a year later.