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Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry played their first gig (on April 5, 1980, in Athens, Georgia) as Twisted Kites. After the performance the band, realizing that they would rather not go down in the annals of rock & roll as kites, engaged in a drunken brainstorming session, writing several names on a wall in chalk. The next morning they erased all but two. Fortunately, they elected not to call themselves "Negro Wives."

[The band later drove to New York in a cheap green Dodge van to play their first gig in Gotham. "It had shag carpeting on the ceiling," Buck recalled. "Somebody had to sleep in it with a big knife every night so the equipment wouldn't get stolen."]

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