How did R.E.M. get their name?

In January 1980, Michael Stipe met Peter Buck in Wuxtry Records, the Athens record store where Buck worked. The pair discovered that they shared similar tastes in music, particularly in punk rock and protopunk. Stipe and Buck soon met fellow University of Georgia students Mike Mills and Bill Berry, who had played music together since high school. The quartet then agreed to collaborate on several songs.

Their still-unnamed band spent a few months rehearsing and played its first show on April 5, 1980, at a friend's birthday party held in a converted Episcopal church in Athens. After considering names like "Twisted Kites", "Cans of Piss", and "Negro Wives", the band settled on "R.E.M." (which stands for the stage of sleep called rapid eye movement), which Stipe selected at random from a dictionary.