John Michael Stipe (born January 4, 1960) is an American singer-songwriter best known as the lead singer of alternative rock band R.E.M. throughout its history. Possessing a distinctive voice, Stipe has been noted for the "mumbling" style of his early career. Since the mid 80's, Stipe sings in "wailing, keening, arching vocal figures" that R.E.M. biographer David Buckley compared to Celtic folk artists and Muslim muezzin. He was in charge of R.E.M.'s visual aspect, often selecting album artwork and directing many of the band's music videos. Outside the music industry, he owns and runs two film production studios, C-00 and Single Cell Pictures. As a member of R.E.M., Stipe was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. As a singer-songwriter, Stipe influenced a wide range of artists, including Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Bono of U2 described his voice as "extraordinary" and Thom Yorke told The Guardian that Stipe is his favourite lyricist, saying "I loved the way he would take an emotion and then take a step back from it and in doing so make it so much more powerful."