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Baker's Dozen

Access All Areas: Barbara Charone’s Baker’s Dozen
Lucy O'Brien , June 22nd, 2022 11:06

The legendary music PR talks to Lucy O’Brien about the albums and the people who have most inspired her, from the Rolling Stones to Madonna, and why artists aren’t necessarily your friends


R.E.M. – Out Of Time

This was the first R.E.M. album that I worked on. I love rock bands and loved Michael Stipe as a frontman. They came to England to do two shows at the Borderline, which were incredible even though I had a terrible hangover, the second one because I made the mistake cardinal sin of drinking Borderline white wine - there’s nothing worse than cheap wine. Michael didn't do many interviews. I remember the video for ‘Losing My Religion’ being FedExed over and the band came into Warner and we all sat in Moira's office. It was amazing watching Michael Stipe watch himself in the video and take notes. The record went on to be phenomenally successful in the UK, and Mike Mills and Peter Buck came over a lot to do press. It was a really exciting time and a real breakthrough record.

After that was Automatic For The People, and for a couple of years they were the biggest band in the world. It’s hard to nurture a band to that level, and get the press, but R.E.M. did give good access and they were a press-loved band. The press probably contributed heavily to their success, but a journalist said to me once, and it's really true, ‘Michael's amazing until you turn the tape recorder on.’ I did R.E.M.’s press for 25 years and then in 2018 their manager rang to say the band had decided to change PR. Every artist is entitled to a change, it happens all the time, and it certainly wasn’t because we hadn’t done a good job. I was waiting for an email or a call, but none of the band said a personal thank you. I was really surprised and hurt. We're just people. I think that I expected more.