Here’s your 90’s Video of the Day: R.E.M. - What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

Because we love ‘em all. Here’s your 90’s Video of the Day:

R.E.M. - What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?

Listen, you don’t mess with Dan Rather. Back in 1986 in New York City, the legendary anchorman was attacked and beaten by two assailants, one in particular who kept yelling, “Kenneth, what is the frequency?” The extremely bizarre incident became a bit of a pop culture reference and the crime went unsolved until eleven years later when a man named William Tager, who was serving jail time for killing an NBC stagehand, had his photo published on a news outlet in 1987. Tager had tried to force his way into NBC to find out what frequency airwaves they were using to attack him so he could block it when he killed stagehand Campbell Montgomery in 1994. When the photo was released, Dan Rather confirmed Tager was the assailant which certainly reiterated that Rather was lucky to have survived the attack.

Michael Stipe was inspired and took creative license in changing the song to “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth,” which may have had some connective tissue with the Dan Rather story, but the overall theme was much more subjective. To quote Stipe, “I wrote that protagonist as a guy who's desperately trying to understand what motivates the younger generation, who has gone to great lengths to try and figure them out, and at the end of the song it's completely f—ing bogus. He got nowhere.”

The video created by Peter Care also has another iconic name to tie in; Kurt Cobain. Guitarist Peter Buck uses Kurt’s Jag-Stang which was given to him by Courtney Love after Kurt died.

Full circle, Dan Rather did a soundcheck with R.E.M. at Madison Square Garden, in which he sang the song with the band. It aired on David Letterman.

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