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Friday, 5 April, 2002, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Peter Buck's rich pageant
REM: Buck (left) with band-mates Michael Stipe and Mike Mills
Buck (left) with band-mates Michael Stipe and Mike Mills
REM guitarist Peter Buck has been cleared by a jury in London of attacking airline staff in an alleged air raid incident last year. BBC News Online profiles his career.

Peter Buck's atmospheric, striking guitar melodies have gone a long way to define the REM sound - luscious, poppy, dream-like and haunting, often all at once.

After almost 20 years in the business, he has carved out a reputation as a prolific musician who dodged the spotlight but brought his own brand of soft, southern country rock to the world.

And REM have firmly established themselves as one of the world's most popular groups.

Peter Buck
Buck: Prolific musician
At 44, he and his band are suddenly beginning to look like rock stars who accidentally grew old.

That is not a bad thing - if you notice that a rock star has got old then it means they have endured where others would have faded into middle-age anonymity.

Songs like Everybody Hurts, Losing My Religion and Shiny, Happy People have helped make REM musical stars, and Reveal was their twelfth studio album.

Seattle
Buck has made Seattle his adopted home

Buck first met Stipe and Mills - plus drummer Bill Berry who has now left the band - in Athens, Georgia, where he was managing a record shop.

He arrived in Athens after living in Oakland, California, San Francisco and Roswell, Georgia - he had been cleaning toilets and washing dishes on his way before settling in Athens.

After playing with a number of local bands, success came when he became friends with Stipe and the pair met Mills and Berry.

They released their first full-length album Murmur in 1983, but it was 1987's Document - with the single The One I Love - that brought them their first commercial success.


We don't exactly fit in on the radio any more

Peter Buck

REM reached the stratosphere when 1991's multi-million selling Out of Time album spawned singles including Losing My Religion, Radio Song, Near Wild Heaven and Shiny, Happy People, which was their first UK top 10 hit.

The follow-up, Automatic for the People, contained more of the same - including Man On The Moon, Everybody Hurts and The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite.

But despite continuing to produce music that retains the inimitable REM melodies - pitched perfectly between the poles of alternative and pop - they have never quite been able to recreate the aura of the early 90s when they could do no wrong.

Out of Time CD cover
High point: Out of Time spawned a number of singles
After 1995's Monster album, the band took a break and Buck started work on several side-projects in order to step out of the spotlight and have the chance to experiment.

Tuatara is an instrumental band featuring Buck, the Screaming Trees' Barrett Martin, Luna's Justin Harwood and saxophonist Skerik, who released two albums in 1997 and 1998.

The aim was, apparently, to play music their own bands could not get away with - worldbeat, lounge-pop and free jazz.

With another band, The Minus Five, Buck has released four albums featuring musicians from Pearl Jam, Guided By Voices, Presidents of the USA and the Posies.

As well as the music, Buck and his wife Stephanie Dorgan also run the Crocodile Cafe in Seattle.

'Legendary'

REM's most recent release, Reveal, was described by critics as "melodic and assured" but too serious and with little trace of the band's sense of humour.

Buck told an interviewer says he does not worry if his sound does not fit into a current trend.

"I always think, 'Where are we? What's going on?','' he said. "It seems like we don't exactly fit in on the radio anymore. I mean, the kids who are buying Nine Inch Nails and Limp Bizkit are not buying our records.

"And you know, that's fine. I feel kind of like we're like Neil Young was a few years ago. He hadn't quite gotten legendary yet.

"On the other hand, I think we've been making our best work recently. My job is to just continue doing it and not worry about it.''

See also:

05 Apr 02 | UK
05 Apr 02 | Health
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