R.E.M. Delivers Surprise Performance at Songwriting Gala 

Rock band R.E.M Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and Bill Berry attend the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductions and gala in New York City, US, June 13, 2024. (Reuters)
Rock band R.E.M Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and Bill Berry attend the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductions and gala in New York City, US, June 13, 2024. (Reuters)
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R.E.M. Delivers Surprise Performance at Songwriting Gala 

Rock band R.E.M Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and Bill Berry attend the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductions and gala in New York City, US, June 13, 2024. (Reuters)
Rock band R.E.M Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Michael Stipe and Bill Berry attend the 2024 Songwriters Hall of Fame Inductions and gala in New York City, US, June 13, 2024. (Reuters)

R.E.M. performed onstage together for the first time in well over a decade Thursday, reuniting to play their classic "Losing My Religion" as they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Michael Stipe, Peter Buck and Mike Mills broke up in 2011, and the last time all four members played onstage together -- Bill Berry left in 1997 -- was in 2007.

But entrance into the who's who of music that is the prestigious songwriting pantheon got the band back together.

"Songwriting is the very foundation of why we came together in the first place," lead vocalist Michael Stipe told AFP. "We're really proud."

The band was inducted by Jason Isbell, who performed a cover of R.E.M's "It's The End of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)" at the event.

"R.E.M. was greater than the sum of its parts. R.E.M. moved like a single instrument," Isbell said.

The Songwriters Hall of Fame celebrates its inductees with a festive dinner and intimate concert instead of a televised event.

Kevin Bacon and his brother Michael -- the duo known as The Bacon Brothers -- opened the show with a foot-stomping rendition of "Footloose," the Oscar-nominated title track of the hit 1984 film of the same name.

Bacon starred in the movie -- but Dean Pitchford wrote it and much of its music, and was among the elite group inducted Thursday.

The writer of many hit films and musical tracks, Pitchford thanked the adoring audience "for hearing all these years, and above all, thank you for listening to me."

Trey Anastasio of Phish inducted Steely Dan, while chairman of the Songwriters Hall of Fame Nile Rodgers -- the beloved co-founder of Chic -- bestowed SZA with a special award for songwriters "at an apex in their careers."

It's "just beyond all of my wildest dreams," SZA said, before performing an acoustic rendition of "Snooze."

Rodgers took his moment onstage to emphasize that "there would be no music industry if there were no songs," specifically calling out streaming platform Spotify to "acknowledge and make a point of songwriters being your priority."

- Hip hop, country, and Oscar royalty -

None other than Missy Elliott had the crowd on its feet as she inducted Timbaland into the coveted class.

"In hip hop, there was certain ways that hip hop music sounds -- Timbaland... literally changed the cadence," she said, adding that the producer, rapper and singer whose hits include "Give It To Me" was a master at marrying sensibilities of rap and R&B.

"Thank you for giving me a seat at the table," Timbaland said in a lengthy acceptance speech, before conducting a house band through a medley of his hits and those he produced for the likes of Elliott, Justin Timberlake and Beyonce.

Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban performed in honor of Hillary Lindsey, a Nashville songwriting star who's written for artists including Lady Gaga, Bon Jovi, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw, Faith Hill and Shakira.

And Diane Warren -- the songwriter who's earned 15 Oscar nominations, including for "Because You Loved Me" performed by Celine Dion and Aerosmith's "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing" -- received the night's highest honor, the Johnny Mercer award.

She, like all of the inductees, said being honored by her peers was particularly special.

"It's songwriters -- what's cooler than that?" she said.



Bruce Springsteen Is Officially a Billionaire

 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform during a concert at Strawberry Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP)
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform during a concert at Strawberry Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP)
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Bruce Springsteen Is Officially a Billionaire

 Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform during a concert at Strawberry Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP)
Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band perform during a concert at Strawberry Arena in Stockholm, Sweden, on Monday, July 15, 2024. (AP)

The Boss is officially a billionaire, Forbes said Friday, estimating that Bruce Springsteen is conservatively worth $1.1 billion.

The guitar hero bard behind hits including "The River" has solidified much of his wealth in recent years, the financial outlet indicated, in no small part due to a blockbuster sale in 2021 of his music catalog to Sony for an estimated half-a-billion dollars.

The deal followed his wildly successful Broadway show run. Now, Springsteen is on a global tour currently set to run through 2025.

According to industry tracker Pollstar, in 2023 Springsteen sold more than 1.6 million concert tickets, raking in $380 million in revenue.

And the 74-year-old "Dancing in the Dark" singer shows no signs of slowing down.

For decades the "Jungleland" songwriter has penned music that focuses a sentimental lens on underdogs and the working class -- and he's sold 140 million albums globally, placing him among the all-time bestselling musicians ever.

A Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee with 20 Grammys and an Oscar to his name, Springsteen is also set to be the subject of a forthcoming biopic, with Jeremy Allen White of "The Bear" fame slated to play him.

His marathon shows are the stuff of legend, with the longest clocking in at more than four hours, a performance he pulled off in Helsinki in 2012.

Other industry heavyweights who have hit the billionaire mark include Rihanna, Jay-Z and Taylor Swift.