North Park artist Greg Vaughan makes a convincing Michael Stipe.
  • North Park artist Greg Vaughan makes a convincing Michael Stipe.
  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

There is no shortage of tribute bands in San Diego. However, only one, Murmur, a new tribute to R.E.M., was built by an agent around the looks of its front man, in this case North Park resident Greg Vaughan, who resembles Michael Stipe.

Stipe doesn’t play an instrument in concert, while Vaughan, a 1988 Patrick Henry High School graduate, is known for his instrumental prowess. Having studied under Scorpions guitarist Uli Jon Roth, Vaughan won the 2005 San Diego edition of Guitar Center’s Guitarmageddon competition and tours as sitarist with music and belly dance troupe Danyavad and the Shimmy Sisters. He also takes the part of a bat-winged guitar shredder in the Depeche Mode–themed Blasphemous Guitars.

Though Vaughan acknowledges his resemblance to Stipe, the idea originated with Brent Meyer, president of tribute-band agency Music Zirconia, which has offices in Pasadena, San Diego, and San Francisco. “[Meyer] wrote me a proposal outlining how much he needed a top-quality R.E.M. tribute and why he thought I would be perfect for the project,” Vaughan recalled. “The idea first occurred to him while watching me perform with gothic belly dance rock opera The Wizard. He figured anyone crazy enough to sing and dance at a gothic belly dance convention might be willing to impersonate Michael Stipe.”

There are several R.E.M. tribute groups scattered around the globe, but once Meyer laid eyes on Vaughan, he couldn’t resist starting one from scratch. “I’m always looking at musicians with a Machiavellian eye. As soon as I saw him, I thought, Oh, he’d be great,” Meyer remarked.

Vaughn has never seen R.E.M. live. “Obviously, I have to see them now. In the meantime, I have been devouring live DVDs and internet clips.”

Stipe is known for his political commentary during concerts, but Vaughn doesn’t think he’ll extend the accuracy in Murmur’s re-creation that far. “I do find his speech cadence fascinating,” Vaughan said. “I can see how some of my fans see a similarity in our personalities — more than the music.”

While Vaughan has never been mistaken for Stipe, he has been confused with another celeb. “Ironically, as Brent was composing the letter to me about being Michael Stipe, I was performing at the Wanderlust Festival on a bill with Moby,” says Vaughan. “So, that weekend was confusing because about a third of the fans who approached me thought I was Moby.”

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader

Comments

sevenonseven Jan. 5, 2011 @ 2:06 p.m.

There already is an REM tribute in North County, its called R.E.M.ᴲᴹᴮᴲᴿ and is made up of genuine fans of the boys from Athens, not "created" to fill a niche. Certainly, the people at Music Zirconia know this - what an original idea to find something already established and attempt to marginalize it by funding its "creation" from their own deep pockets! If you are interested in seeing a true tribute, formed by real fans who have a genuine respect and love of the music of R.E.M, I suggest you check them out (http://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/pages/REMEMBER-tribute/123406974367947). If you are looking for a facsimile, some sort of petri dish experiment - well, look no further. Real fans know the difference, regardless of musical prowess or financial backing.

0

jasonm68 Jan. 6, 2011 @ 1:28 p.m.

Agreed. Looks and money don't mean anything. True fans who appreciate tribute bands are more concerned with the quality and respect for the MUSIC rather than how much the tribute lead singer looks like original lead singer. Anyone can sit around a board room table and come up with a list of popular artists who don't have tribute bands yet. Real fans create real tribute bands.

0

letsactive Jan. 6, 2011 @ 12:28 p.m.

Corporatized REM sideshow! Mike, Michael and Peter could not be more pleased! When is the IPO? Will you be selling adspace for Exxon or BP on your homepage?

the idea originated with Brent Meyer, president of tribute-band agency Music Zirconia, which has offices in Pasadena, San Diego, and San Francisco. “[Meyer] wrote me a proposal outlining how much he needed a top-quality R.E.M. tribute and why he thought I would be perfect for the project,” Vaughn recalled.<<

Meyer sounds like the sort of guy that would fit right in at Enron.

Some people just don't get it. The irony is deafening.

0

sandbag Feb. 3, 2011 @ 12:07 p.m.

I saw some video of Murmur's show at the Belly Up. Looked and sounded great! I am going to their next show at the Whistlestop Bar in South Park Friday Feb 11th at 10pm. (2236 Fern Street, San Diego, CA 92104)

Check out Murmur's Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Murmur-REM-Tribute/146603572058940

Oh, and regarding all the negative posts before mine. I checked out R.E.M.ᴲᴹᴮᴲᴿ Facebook page, and it seems they are no longer together. (Negativity destroys!)

0

Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!

Close