Though Michael Stipe had been a fan of Vic Chesnutt since the late '80s, producing his first two full-lengths, it took the Sweet Relief Two tribute album to make a star of him in mid-1996. The album featured artists such as Madonna, Hootie & the Blowfish, Smashing Pumpkins, and R.E.M. covering the songs of Chesnutt, a paraplegic who was injured in a car accident when he was 18. The singer/songwriter began playing contemporary acoustic folk around Athens, GA, soon after his injury. A show at the 40 Watt Club brought him to the attention of Stipe, who helped with production on 1990's Little and 1991's West of Rome, both on Texas Hotel Records. A documentary video of Chesnutt's life called Speed Racer was produced and directed by Peter Sillen in 1991, and has aired on PBS. Chesnutt's third album, Drunk, followed in late 1993, but the release of his fourth album was delayed by Chesnutt's membership in Brute, a project with members of Widespread Panic including David A. Schools, Michael Houser, Todd Nance, John Hermann, Johnny Hickman, David Lowery, and John Keane.