The four original members of R.E.M. gave a rare performance Saturday night as the group was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.
The group, which formed in Athens, Ga., in 1980, has won three Grammys and sold more than 70 million records. It has performed as a quartet only a handful of times since 1997, when drummer Bill Berry left the group after suffering a brain aneurysm onstage in 1995.
"This is going to be loud," front man Michael Stipe said as the group launched into "Begin the Begin" from their 1986 album "Life's Rich Pageant."
Saturday's reunion performance was by far the largest and the first that was publicized in advance. Many of the roughly 1,500 people at the Georgia hall's black-tie induction ceremony clearly were there to see the group.
"It's been a sellout and the buzz has been going on for many weeks now," said Lisa Love, director of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. "R.E.M. is one of the most influential bands in the world"
The three remaining members — Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills — have continued to tour and record without naming an official drummer.
Also inducted Saturday were Allman Brothers founder Gregg Allman, writer-producers Dallas Austin and Jermaine Dupri, and the late Felice Bryant. Bryant, along with husband Boudleaux Bryant, wrote country and rock standards including "Rocky Top," "Wake Up Little Susie" and "Love Hurts."
Other members of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, located about an hour south of Atlanta in Macon, Ga., include Ray Charles, Little Richard, Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood and the Indigo Girls.