R.E.M., the Athens, Georgia band that virtually defined college radio in the 1980s, found massive mainstream success in the early-to-mid-’90s, then struggled to regain their footing, both critically and commercially, after the departure of drummer Bill Berry in 1997, have announced they’re calling it a day via a statement on their official site.
“To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band,” read the statement, which was posted today. “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.”
The Michael Stipe-led band was together for a total of 31 years, and released 15 studio albums in that time. Their 1987 LP Document was their last on indie label I.R.S. Records, and it contained R.E.M.’s first Top 40 hit “The One I Love.”
A handful of radio staples followed once the quartet signed to Warner Bros., including “Stand” (off 1988′s Green), “Losing My Religion” (Out Of Time, 1991), “Man On The Moon” and “Everybody Hurts” (both from seminal 1992 album Automatic For The People) and “What’s The Frequency, Kenneth?” (Monster, 1994).
Following an on-stage collapse during a show in Switzerland in 1995 due to a brain aneurysm, drummer Bill Berry left R.E.M. two years later. The band released five more albums without him, including this year’s Collapse Into Now, which debuted on the Top 200 at #5 in March, but quickly dropped down the album chart. The trio did not tour in support of the album.
Michael Stipe noted the following on the band’s site today:
“A wise man once said–’the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it. I hope our fans realize this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way.”
The split comes 20 years after the release of their multi-Platinum LP Out Of Time, which yielded hits in the forms of the previously-mentioned “Losing My Religion” and “Shiny Happy People.”
Rolling Stone notes that the band has one more release up their sleeves: a career-spanning greatest hits collection, due out later this year, which will include a handful of new songs finished after the recording of Collapse Into Now.
Do you have a favorite R.E.M. song or album? (I personally love Automatic For The People‘s “Nightswimming,” as well as the album Monster). Chime in below and let us know!