Here's How R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe Avoided Death Three Times

Michael Stipe, the lead vocalist for the band R.E.M., has led quite a life. Born in Georgia in 1960, according to Biography, Stipe was a military brat who moved around from base to base with his family as his father's job duties took them here and there. 

For decades, he fronted one of the biggest and most influential rock bands in music history and often had to field questions about his sexuality, once calling himself an "equal-opportunity lech," according to Irish Times. He even found himself shooting down rumors that he had AIDS. Since low body weight was often associated with the disease, Stipe's skinny appearance led many to believe he was sick, he told Celebretainment. He also admitted that the disease first started emerging in circles that he hung out in.

Also during his lifetime, as Stipe told The Guardian in 2020, he came close to death three times. Two of those purported brushes with death came in his childhood, and the third when he was comfortably into adulthood.

Stipe beat a deadly disease and two potentially fatal accidents

Speaking to The Guardian's Rosanna Greenstreet, Stipe covered a variety of topics in a rapid-fire interview consisting of brief answers to questions. When the interviewer asked Stipe what's the closest he's come to death, he gave a terse answer with no exposition.

"Scarlet fever, 1962. Hypothermia, 1974. Lightning strike, 1986," he said.

In 2019, Stipe told The Guardian a bit more about his childhood brush with death. "I had scarlet fever as a 2-year-old, and it boils your brain. You use your synapses differently," he said.

Years after, Stipe was a teenage Boy Scout, according to The Express, when he somehow got lost and wound up alone on the top of a mountain. He soon began experiencing symptoms of hypothermia, including hallucinations and uncontrollable shivers. Even his father, a seasoned military man, thought his teenage son was dead, Stipe said.

Finally, in 1986, the R.E.M. singer suffered his third brush with death. Details are scarce, but according to Indiana Public Media, Stipe had purchased a taxicab and was driving it through Georgia when it was struck by lightning. Although the experience may have been harrowing for Stipe, cars are actually safe places to be during lightning, according to the National Weather Service.