Michael Edward Mills (born December 17, 1958) is an American multi-instrumentalist, singer, and composer who was a founding member of the alternative rock band R.E.M. Though known primarily as a bass guitarist, backing vocalist, and pianist, his musical repertoire also includes keyboards, guitar, percussion instruments and occasional lead vocals. He contributed to a majority of the band's musical compositions.
R.E.M. had been talking about disbanding since 2008, and eventually did so in 2011. Since then, Mills said there is no possibility of an R.E.M. reunion. Mills described it as "31 wonderful years and the opportunity to end it on our own terms."
Mills also performs as part of singer-songwriter Joseph Arthur's band. On April 3, 2014, while performing with musical guest Joseph Arthur, Mills broke the news that David Letterman would be retiring in 2015. Mills took a band self-portrait that he posted to Instagram and did a short interview about "breaking" the story
Since 2010, Mills has played with a rotating group of musicians for a series of concerts built around Big Star's seminal album, Third/Sister Lovers. Known as Big Star's Third, the concerts have taken place in London, Sydney, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New York.
A longtime Big Star fan, Mills wrote the liner notes for the 2014 reissue of the band's first two releases, 1972's #1 Record and 1974's Radio City.
In 2016, he toured to support a Concerto for Violin, Rock Band, and String Orchestra with childhood friend Robert McDuffie.
Mike Mills' melodic approach to bass playing is inspired by Paul McCartney of the Beatles and Chris Squire of Yes; Mills has said, "I always played a melodic bass, like a piano bass in some ways . . . I never wanted to play the traditional locked into the kick drum, root note bass work." Mills has more musical training than his bandmates, which he has said "made it easier to turn abstract musical ideas into reality."
During R.E.M.'s career, Mills often harmonized with Michael Stipe in songs; in the chorus for "Stand", Mills and Stipe alternate singing lyrics, creating a dialogue.
1985 - Full Time Men- Full Time Men, organ on "One More Time"
1987 - Warren Zevon - Sentimental Hygiene on "Sentimental Hygiene", "Boom Boom Mancini", "The Factory", "Trouble Waiting to Happen", "Detox Mansion", "Bad Karma", "Even a Dog Can Shake Hands", and "The Heartache"
1987 - Waxing Poetics- Hermitage, production
1988 - Billy James - Sixes and Sevens, production
1988 - The Cynics - "What's It Gonna Be"/"Roadrunner" (live)