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Michael Stipe Is Proud of Mike Mills for Breaking That Letterman News

Michael Stipe==New York special screening of UNDER THE SKIN==Crosby Street Hotel, NYC==April 3, 2014==?Patrick McMullan==Photo - Paul Bruinooge/
Michael Stipe. Photo: Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan

The news of David Letterman’s retirement was broken by a very unlikely source: former R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, who was sitting in on the night’s musical performance and managed to tweet the announcement before CBS could even send out a press release. “Good for Mike! I like that,” said his ex-R.E.M. bandmate Michael Stipe last night, at the premiere of Under the Skin. “A mutual friend saw [the tweet] and texted me to say, ‘What the actual fuck?’ He’s been on Twitter for a week, I think!

Stipe didn’t have any strong thoughts about the timing of Letterman’s announcement, coming after the host’s 32 years in late night — “I mean, I retired after 31,” he said — but he’ll never forget the first time R.E.M. played Letterman’s show. “They told us that he’d come over after the song and speak to one member of the band, so we chose Peter Buck because he talks well and I was very shy,” Stipe recalled. “So when [Letterman] walked over, I just sat down on the monitor, which is like the speaker. What I didn’t know was that the way the camera had cut, I kind of just slipped into the distance and disappeared off-camera and it looked really wild. It was very bizarre on TV. I just kind of sunk down like a Muppet.” Added Stipe, “That’s when I became tagged as enigmatic.”

Michael Stipe on Mike Mills’s Letterman Tweet