And, let's face it, it was about time. It was over for REM a long time ago. It was over when Bill Berry left.
The first interview I ever did for Melody Maker was with Peter Buck and Mike Mills. They were playing at the Caley Paley in Edinburgh, and we met in the George Hotel. At that time, the poshest they'd ever stayed in. They couldn't afford the bar prices and made me help smuggle beer in from the tour van. Not bus. Van.
I said hallo to Michael Stipe backstage after that gig. Even then, with hair, I thought he was one of the strangest people I'd ever met.
And then, memorably, met and interviewed Stipe and Mills in Athens, Georgia, while I was hitching a ride with Del Amitri on their 'sleeping on people's floors' tour of the USA. Went to Mike M's house, where Iggy Pop had been partying the night before. Mills took me to his favourite record shop and insisted on buying the REM bootleg 'We're Blinking As Fast As We Can', and the Hindu Love Gods single. We lunched on buffalo chicken wings. First time I'd ever seen frozen beer glasses.
Stipe cycled right into the Rendezvous Lounge that night, and we repaired to the tea shop he owned (this was just before Life's Rich Pageant's release). And that's where this picture was taken. By me. On the Braun Super Paxette camera my dad bought me for my 17th birthday.
Stipe was still strange. But not as strange as his companions, a young man and woman, both dressed as Alice Cooper. I've always wondered, with hindsight, if the guy was River Phoenix.