5 Cool Songs Featuring Guest Vocals by R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, Including Tunes by Warren Zevon, Patti Smith, & More

R.E.M. is back in the news this week, almost 13 years after the influential alternative-rock band announced its breakup. The group’s four founding members were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in New York City on Thursday, June 14, and although they vowed never to reunite, they came together for a surprise performance of their 1991 hit “Losing My Religion” at the ceremony.

Videos by American Songwriter

The performance marked the first time that R.E.M.’s four original members—lead singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry—played onstage together since the band’s 2007 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

[RELATED: R.E.M. Performs for First Time in 17 Years at the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame]

Stipe’s unmistakably gravelly voice was one of the defining elements of R.E.M.’s sound. During his band’s 30-year history, the singer also lent his vocal talents to recordings by a variety of other artists. As we reflect on Stipe and R.E.M.’s musical legacy, here are five cool songs by various well-known artists featuring guest vocals by Michael.

“Boy (Go)” – The Golden Palominos (1985)

The Golden Palominos were an alternative-rock collective led by former Feelies drummer Anton Fier that featured various musicians and singers contributing to each album. Stipe sang on three songs on the group’s second album, Visions of Excess (1985), including the lead track, “Boy (Go).”

“Boy (Go)” was a hypnotic, atmospheric tune that featured former Fairport Convention member Richard Thompson on lead guitar. Stipe co-wrote the song with Fier and Jody Harris, who was the lead guitarist of the No Wave band The Contortions.

“A Campfire Song” – 10,000 Maniacs (1987)

10,000 Maniacs’ 1987 breakthrough album In My Tribe features a melodic alternative-pop tune called “A Campfire Song.” Stipe appears on the song’s reggae-flavored bridge, singing a syncopated part along with frontwoman Natalie Merchant.

Stipe and Merchant first met in 1983, and later became close friends, even dating each other for a time.

“Bad Karma” – Warren Zevon (1987)

Warren Zevon’s 1987 album Sentimental Hygiene featured R.E.M.’s Buck, Mills, and Berry as his primary backing band. The album included a catchy roots-rock track called “Bad Karma.”

Stipe sings backing vocals on the song along with original Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers drummer Stan Lynch.

“Glitter in Their Eyes” – Patti Smith (2000)

Patti Smith was a huge influence on and musical hero of Stipe. In 1996, she contributed guest vocals on the R.E.M. song “E-Bow the Letter,” which appeared on the New Adventures in Hi-Fi album. Stipe, in turn, sang backing vocals on “Last Call,” a song from Smith’s 1997 album Peace and Noise.

Then, in 2000, Stipe lent his backing vocals to “Glitter in Their Eyes,” a single from Smith’s Gung Ho album. His voice is heard most prominently at the end of the driving pop-punk gem, as he growls the repetitive chant “all that glitters.” The track also features a guitar solo from Television frontman Tom Verlaine.

“Dancing on the Lip of a Volcano” – The New York Dolls (2006)

In 2006, reunited glam-rock legends New York Dolls released their first studio album in more than 30 years, One Day It Will Please Us to Remember Even This. The record included the tune “Dancing on the Lip of a Volcano,” co-written by the group’s two surviving members—frontman David Johansen and guitarist Sylvain Sylvain.

Stipe is featured trading vocal lines with Johansen during the chorus of the driving, melodic rock tune.

Leave a Reply

George Strait released one of the best country songs about dad

4 Country Songs to Share with Your Dad This Father’s Day

Lainey Wilson Signs Fan's Prosthetic Leg at Country Fest Ohio

Lainey Wilson Performs With Fan’s Prosthetic Leg While Belting Out Alan Jackson Cover at Country Fest Ohio