Stipe, lead singer for R.E.M., has long been a fixture in the music scene.
In 1983, R.E.M. came out with their debut album, Murmur,
which forever changed the face of music. That album differed from the
rest of the mainstream pop music being played at the time. It had a haunting,
melodic quality with lyrics that were barely discernable, but somehow
carried emotional power and striking beauty. At the core of the album
was the voice and imagery of Michael Stipe.
always played an illusory role in the world of big budget high profile
rock stars. Describing himself as “painfully shy,” Stipe shunned the spotlight
and the immense attention heaped on him as his band leapt to fame. Efforts
to pin him down proved difficult. He rarely gave interviews, and his lyrics
were cryptic. Even his style of singing sounded mumbled, distant and hard
to understand. When studying his chart, we see a number of elements that
help describe his character.
Sun conjoins Saturn in Capricorn, showing an immense drive, but also intense
insecurity that could be crippling at times. Capricorn is the Sun sign
most found in presidents. It usually describes someone who can endure
hard times to meet goals and eventually rise to the top. Stipe has certainly
reached the zenith of artistic and commercial success. Capricorn is the
sign of the mountain goat, steadily climbing higher and higher. In the
ascent, however, there are often difficult obstacles. Capricorns can often
be frustrated and will fall from time to time in their lives. These falls
will hopefully teach humility and perseverance, creating a certain wisdom
as the Capricorn grows older.
as the son of a military officer, Stipe moved from place to place when
he was young and never stayed in one town too long. Though he usually
liked to keep to himself, Stipe developed another side to himself in high
school that countered his shyness. He described it as “this real loud,
extreme, extroverted personality.” One can see this dichotomy in Stipe’s
chart, where his Jupiter, Mars and Venus are all found in Sagittarius.
This sign is known for its expressive and dynamic qualities. With both
Capricorn and Sagittarius playing a large role in his chart, there is
a likelihood of Michael swinging between melancholy (Capricorn) and buoyant
Me in the Spotlight
cult status in the early 80s but it was not until their hit “The One I
Love,” off their album Document in 1987, that they achieved
huge commercial recognition. From this time on, Stipe was thrown into
the spotlight, and intense pressure was placed on him to define himself.
Questions arose concerning his sexual identity, which he chose to avoid.
When the pressure became too great, Stipe
overcame his desire for privacy and began to openly discuss his bisexuality
In his chart,
we see his Venus squared to his Pluto, a signature of strong feelings
and issues surrounding love and sexuality. People with this aspect often
find themselves involved in intense relationships where issues of power,
jealousy and equality can arise. For Stipe, it has also shown difficulty
in expressing his sexual preferences publicly. Thrust into the role of
superstardom, Stipe was challenged to overcome his shyness (Sun
R.E.M. wrote a hit song called “Losing My Religion,” a southern slang
term for going insane. In the song Stipe sings, “That’s me in the corner,
that’s me in the spotlight, losing my religion.” The song describes the
intense transformation he had to make to come out into the public eye
and the pain associated with doing that. Over time, Michael has chosen
to use that “spotlight” to promote social and political awareness, coming
out in favor of a woman’s right to choose and AIDS prevention.
End of the World as We Know It?
R.E.M.’s drummer, Bill Berry, decided to leave the band to pursue his
own interests. With the band now only a three piece, there was a great
deal of talk of breaking up. Instead of this, however, the group decided
to go back to the studio and make a new album. In 1998, R.E.M. released
Up and Michael Stipe, along with the band, have vowed to
continue their musical explorations into the twenty-first century.