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Wednesday, 27 March, 2002, 15:14 GMT
Band members defend REM star
Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, his wife Stephanie and Mike Mills pose outside Isleworth Crown Court
Mr Buck's friends and family said he never got drunk
Fellow REM stars have appeared in court to defend band member Peter Buck, who is accused of an alleged drunken rampage aboard a plane.

Singer Michael Stipe said the allegations went completely against the guitarist's "gentle and polite" character.


He is considerate of all people, gentle and polite...this whole thing to me is absurd

Michael Stipe
"He's just not a person who is rude to anyone," he told Isleworth Crown Court in west London.

"I asked him what prompted his arrest, and he said he had taken a pill and blacked out."

The group's bass player, Michael Mills, also said Mr Buck told him he was "not really sure what happened" after downing the sleeping medication with a glass of red wine.

'Never seen drunk'

The alleged incidents happened on a British Airways flight from Seattle to Heathrow last April.

It was alleged Mr Buck attacked two cabin staff and covered them in yoghurt, then knocked over a trolley and tried to steal a knife.


[Mr Buck is] a very nice, straightforward, kind and homely person

Bassist Michael Mills
Mr Mills said the guitarist was far from his normal self when he first saw him in his hotel suite, hours after his release from police custody.

"He was very shaken, he was very depressed."

Mr Mills described Mr Buck as "a very gentle person, very dedicated to his friends and his craft, and a very nice, straightforward, kind and homely person".

Mr Buck, 45, denies one count of being drunk aboard the plane, two counts of common assault involving an air stewardess and the cabin services director, and one of damaging British Airways property.

Asked by Trevor Burke, QC, defending, whether Mr Buck had ever indulged in behaviour on a plane that would have caused him concern, Mr Mills replied: "Absolutely not."

Neither had he seen the guitarist ever get drunk.

'Southern gentleman'

Mr Stipe recalled first meeting the defendant in 1979 after moving with his family to Athens, Georgia, as a teenager.


I would not be married to him if he was anything like that

Wife Stephanie

The singer said Mr Buck had never displayed "aggressive tendencies" whether on an aircraft or anywhere else.

"[In] the American south, there is what is called a southern gentleman, and Peter is my definition of such.

"He is someone who is considerate of all people, gentle and polite.

"That is why this whole thing to me is absurd ... It just seems so bizarre."

His friend, he said, would prefer to retire to his hotel room with a good book rather than join his fellow band members in the bar after a performance.

The man he knew and the allegations against him simply "did not compare", he said.

'Family man'

The court also heard from Mr Buck's wife Stephanie, a qualified lawyer, who described how the couple lived in Seattle with their twin daughters, who will be eight next month.

"Peter is a very gentle man, he is shy, he is very self-effacing."

She said he was a "great father", very involved in the girls' upbringing, who tried to be home as much as possible.

Mr Burke asked her what her first reaction was when she learned of the allegations being made against him.

"Not Peter, not Peter at all," she replied. "I would not be married to him if he was anything like that."

The trial was adjourned until Wednesday 3 April.

See also:

25 Mar 02 | UK
Bono defends REM guitarist
18 Mar 02 | England
REM star 'behaved like lout'
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