Life (or should we say, its Rich Pageant) made an internationally recognized rock star out of a scrappy little military brat born January 4, 1960, in Decatur, Georgia; today, it also makes him one of the first of 2010 to celebrate his semi-centennial.
To follow this year: Bono (May 10), Chuck D (August 1), Aimee Mann (Sept. 8), Husker Du’s Bob Mould (Oct. 16) and the Replacements’ Paul Westerberg (Dec. 31). Also? Sean Penn, Hugh Grant, Jean Claud Van Damme and Jennifer Grey (nobody puts Baby in the AARP!)
Now 27 years into a career that began with R.E.M.’s college-rock watermark Murmur in 1983, Stipe has been an activist, a multi-Grammy winner, a misplacer of religion, a maestro of Mary Kay, and, as of 2007, an official Rock and Roll Hall of Famer.
Watch him and the band performing “Moon River” and “Pretty Persuasion” on England’s Old Grey Whistle Test in 1984. Youth! Hair! Wonderment! Mr. Stipe, we salute you:
More from EW.com’s Music Mix:
RIP Lhasa: the singer succumbs to breast cancer
Flaming Lips cover Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ album; results are surprisingly awful
The 10 best singles of 2009: EW’s definitive list
The year in NSFW video: What were the gnarliest, nakedest music clips of ‘09?
The most watched YouTube videos of 2009