Bill Berry Reveals Regrets of Parting From R.E.M. and How Leaving “Made It Weird” for His Bandmates

The founding members of R.E.M.—Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Bill Berry, and Michael Stipe—recently reunited for their first interview in almost 30 years, speaking with CBS Mornings about their music and breakup, among other topics. A day before that, they also performed together for the first time since 1997 at the Songwriters Hall of Fame induction ceremony on June 13. That was the year drummer Bill Berry left the band, the year of their last performance, and he recently expressed regret at leaving the band then.

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When asked if he had second thoughts about his decision to leaved the band in 1997, Berry replied, “Of course, I did. That was a weird time for me, and I made it weird for these guys, too.”

Berry’s decision to leave the band was a seed first planted in 1995, when he collapsed on stage due to a brain aneurism. He rejoined R.E.M. after recovering, but claims the incident directly affected his enthusiasm for being in the band.

“I’m not gonna use that as an excuse,” he said in the recent interview. “Maybe, it reduced – maybe, that thing in Switzerland – brain aneurysm, and successful surgery – it may have lowered my energy level. I was type A, hyperactive until that, and I just didn’t have the drive I once did to do this.”

[RELATED: R.E.M.’s Four Members to Reunite for ‘CBS Mornings’ Interview in Advance of Band’s Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction]

Bill Berry Later Regretted Leaving R.E.M., But Claimed He “Didn’t Have the Drive” to do it Anymore

At the time of his decision to leave, Berry claimed he didn’t regret it. He felt he had to leave the band at that time due to changes in his health and attitude toward performing. However, while he didn’t regret it at the time, he shared that he felt remorse later.

“Yes [I had to give it up], and I didn’t regret it at the time,” he said. “I sort of regretted it a little later,” but, he said, “That was a long time ago. That was over a quarter of a century ago.”

R.E.M. last reunited in 2007, ten years after their last show, to play at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. When they next reunited at the Songwriters Hall of Fame, Michael Stipe shared some words about their process with the audience, per a report from the Los Angeles Times.

“We are four people who very early on decided that we would own our own masters and we would split our royalties and songwriting credits equally,” he said. This is nearly unheard of in the music industry now, and extremely hard to do, but Stipe explained, “We were all for one and one for all.”

Featured Image by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for Songwriters Hall Of Fame

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