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Bill Berry leaves R.E.M. - an appreciation

It's A Shame About Bill

There are graver tragedies around us; nonetheless, few events of 1997 tugged at the heartstrings quite like the sight of drummer Bill Berry announcing his departure from R.E.M., with his three bandmates beside him, supporting him, on MTV. Berry's statement that, after 17 years, his heart just wasn't in it like the other guys' hearts still are, and that he didn't want to give it less than 100 percent for anyone's sake, seemed like about as honest and revealing a professional and artistic admission anyone in his position ever makes. What impact his exit will have on the band's sound won't be evident until they release another album, on which they plan to use electronics and guest drummers. Bill's clearly paid his dues though, and if he feels like chilling out, especially after that aneurysm scare on the last tour, he's earned it. Happy trails.