Michael Stipe has been in therapy ''for years'' to combat his shyness.

The former R.E.M. frontman has always felt insecure alongside his well-read bandmates Peter Buck and Mike Mills and struggled in the early days of his career to cope with doing interviews alongside performing.

He said: ''Along with Courtney Love, Peter is one of the most well-spoken and best read people I know.

''Mike comes in as second best read. Even in their early twenties, they were very, very smart. I, on the other hand, had immense, crushing shyness and immense insecurity about my education.

''I've been in therapy for years over my insecurities about lack of articulation. Early on, for me to even finish a sentence was a near impossible task.

''I had hair in front of my face. I was really, really, really shy and did not anticipate that I would actually have to talk about my work and look people in the eye.''

The 54-year-old singer had a ''big nervous breakdown'' in the 1980s and after a torrid 18 months, was able to come out of the experience a ''different person''.

He said: ''By the mid-Eighties, I had my big nervous breakdown which lasted 18 months. But I emerged out of that a different person and I've learned how to articulate my thoughts.

''I've learned how to sit there without sweating and shaking. I grew out of my shyness.''

At the height of his crisis of confidence, the group recorded third album 'Fables of Reconstruction' and even now the 'Losing My Religion' singer finds the record hard to listen to because of the memories it evokes.

He told The Sun newspaper: ''It's one of my favourites but it's hard for me to revisit because I was in a very dark mental place.''