Bertis Downs IV bigraphy, stories - Lawyer and manager of rock band R.E.M.

Bertis Downs IV : biography

July 13, 1956 -

Bertis Edwin Downs IV (born July 13, 1956) originally provided legal counsel (particularly for initial contracts), and then became both counselor and manager, for the rock band R.E.M., taking over from the band's long-term manager Jefferson Holt. He is usually credited simply as the band's "Advisor".


Career with R.E.M.

R.E.M.'s drummer, Bill Berry instigated Downs' connection with the band. In 1978, John Huie, a rep for the booking company Berry worked for at the time, suggested Berry look up Downs, whom he knew from Davidson College but who was now studying at the University of Georgia.

Downs attended an R.E.M. show at the 11.11 Koffee Club in Athens, Georgia on April 19, 1980. By that time, Downs also knew Peter Buck from Wuxtry Records, where he would buy Neil Young records. Recalling events nineteen years later on VH1's Behind the Music, Downs said, "I thought they were great". Downs was so impressed that he told the band that they would one day be bigger than the Beatles. He and the band immediately forged a friendship. "They started asking me questions about copyright issues, trademark issues, the first time they had a recording agreement they needed me to have a look at", Downs said. "They knew that I was just out of law school and was just getting started as a lawyer, and I certainly didn't claim any particular expertise. I learned by the seat of my pants. I worked with them as a volunteer, just helping out, and gradually over the next couple of years it became more like a real job, and, all these years later, that's kind of still what it is."

At the band's 2007 induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Downs—often referred to by the band as the fifth member of R.E.M.—was inadvertently omitted from Michael Stipe's lengthy thank you remarks, an error which Mike Mills quickly corrected between songs. Stipe then added that Downs was supposed to be the last thanked.

Education and academic career

Downs graduated cum laude from Davidson College in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. In 1981, he graduated from the University of Georgia Law School, and he is currently an Adjunct Professor in the UGA Law School teaching Entertainment Law and Music Law.

Living octopus

Living octopus

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