R.E.M. officially disband after 30 years

REM

Image Credit: Joe Giron/Corbis

After over three decades and 15 studio albums together, R.E.M. have decided to call it quits.

In a statement posted to their official website, the band told fans that Collapse Into Now (which was released earlier this year) would be the last thing the band recorded as a unit.

“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,” the announcement said. “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 Athens, Georgia quartet (founded by singer Michael Stipe, drummer Bill Berry, bassist Mike Mills, and guitarist Peter Buck) soldiered on as a trio after Berry left the band in 1997 due to health problems.

All told, R.E.M. have sold over 25 million albums, amassed a bevy of awards, put out dozens of iconic music videos, and left behind a body of work that includes some of the most iconic songs of the end of the 20th century.

UPDATE: Stipe, Mills, and Buck each wrote their own individual comments about the break-up.

Mike Mills
“During our last tour, and while making Collapse Into Now and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, ‘what next’? Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together.

“We have always been a band in the truest sense of the word. Brothers who truly love, and respect, each other. We feel kind of like pioneers in this — there’s no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off. We’ve made this decision together, amicably and with each other’s best interests at heart. The time just feels right.”

Michael Stipe
“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.

“We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It’s been amazing.”

Peter Buck
“One of the things that was always so great about being in R.E.M. was the fact that the records and the songs we wrote meant as much to our fans as they did to us. It was, and still is, important to us to do right by you. Being a part of your lives has been an unbelievable gift. Thank you.

“Mike, Michael, Bill, Bertis, and I walk away as great friends. I know I will be seeing them in the future, just as I know I will be seeing everyone who has followed us and supported us through the years. Even if it’s only in the vinyl aisle of your local record store, or standing at the back of the club: watching a group of 19 year olds trying to change the world.”

What’s your favorite R.E.M. song? Mourn the end of an era in the comments below.

Read more on EW.com:
Review: R.E.M., Collapse Into Now
R.E.M.: Aaron Johnson goes dance crazy in the new video for ‘UBerlin’
R.E.M.: A History in Music Videos
Cover Story: R.E.M. in 1995


Comments (285 total) Add your comment
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  • UGH

    They should’ve broken up 20 years ago.
    That’s the last time they made a decent record.

    • BillyD

      You must have your mama’s netbook set on auto-troll. Thanks for playing!

      • ^

        Yeah, it was sticking her in her back when I was sticking her in her front.

      • JimmyH

        “auto-troll”.. I like that!

      • BillyD’sMom’sComputer

        Gay P0rn.
        Gay P0rn.
        Gay P0rn.
        Gay P0rn.

      • BillyD

        Heh! Mom knows what I like.

      • Leah

        I love them and CollegeDate.org was amazing

      • Tom

        I was a fan of Orange Crush, and Radio Free Europe. The other songs, as good as they were at the time, were kinda over-played to the point where I can’t really get excited about them anymore. RFE will always be a great jam 2une. But I was always hoping for a return to that great sound they had so very long ago. There is still hope for the B-52s however.

      • Randy Jackson

        They lost it when they lost Uni-Brow.

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        Not a huge fan but of the songs I liked by them, I truly loved, such as Shiny Happy People, End of the World…., Losing My Religion… and I think that is it.

    • RT

      While becoming a trio did have some effect on the band’s overall chemistry, each album they made as a trio had something to offer. It has become fashionable in certain circles to dismiss them over the past 10 years of so, but the recorded evidence does not back up such carping.

      • Jeremy DC

        I agree. It’s become fashionable to trash bands who are still putting out great music but since they no longer are in the mainstream they get dismissed by people who just listen to the flavor of the month. I would say 70% of mainstream music over the past 10 years has been crap.

      • ue

        Yes! well said.

      • candacetx

        hate to say but I havent bought an REM CD since Monster. *sigh*

      • Sidney

        Monster signalled the end of something about REM that was truly alternative, and small-time about their music. It was the big push crossover into commercialism. I never really looked back after that point.

    • Phil

      I agree with UGH here. The band hasn’t made an actual relative hit in over a decade, I’d have been happy if their greatest hits in 2003 woulda been their swan song.
      And seriously EW…Nirvana, Guns & Roses and now R.E.M…you’d think it was the 90’s again. There’s nothing else relevant to mention musically today?! Oh yeah I guess you’re amping up for the 10+ X-Factor posts tomorrow….*SIGH*

      • A

        A “relative hit?”

      • Ian

        Spoken like someone who can’t possibly enjoy a song unless it’s called a “hit” by some chart or MTV. Thank God my mind can wander beyond a list of 40 songs to find things that are relevant, have quality, and something to say. Phil can stick to Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber and their ‘hits’, while I actually use some initiative to go beyond his pre-determined borders. Must suck to live in such a small and comparatively crappy box.

      • Phil

        @Ian – I can run off a list (40 or more even) of talented artists that arent on charts or MTV that I enjoy immensely. But I also like Gaga and Bieber. The point of my original post was the only news I heard about R.E.M. in the last few years involved front man Michael Stipe’s high number of (young) boy toys who all took photos in the singer’s bathroom and posted them on a shirtless iPhone site. As a gay guy, that kinda info. really made me lose alot of respect for him and the once great band, since he should have the common sense about technology, and should def. not have allowed let alone encouraged the boys to take photos in his home that would wind up on the internet, and be veiwed as nothing more but conquests. How small is my comparatively crappy box now??

      • Dee

        You can always listen to Kings of Leon. Aren’t they relevant right now? Oh, that’s right, they had to cancel their tour because of “exhaustion.”

      • Shawnuel

        They broke up TODAY!!!!! When else was EW supposed to write about it, moron?!!!!!!!!

      • Big Walt

        Jeez Ian how did you not get that that was Phil’s original point?!?

      • Acaseofgeo

        Wow Phil, what is that app with all these hot young boy toy’s? Also, wasn’t Michael Stipe SMART enough to make them sign PDA? I hear its the trendy thing to do when someone doesn’t want the world to know they use their stardom to bang hot young boys (or chicks).

      • Acaseofgeo

        Found it already. Wow That was so easy lololol. Alas, I am far too old to make it into Stipe’s bathroom, but he’s not my type anyway.

      • 90s is Done

        For those of you living in a cave for the last decade. Guess what?

    • Grumpster

      zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

      • Job

        My favorite song of theirs was Rock Lobster

        youtube.com/watch?v=Tpi16QNdksg

    • Lady Gaga 4Ever

      LOL! It took them 30 years to sell a measly 25 million albums? Lady Gaga did that in less than 2 years. She will be rememebered for her contribution to music, not these clowns.

      • PN

        I think that it took maybe 5 years or more for some people to get into their music and their sound. I’m sure that some albums went gold or platinum or multi platinum while others sold only 100,000, 200,000 or 350,000. But that they sold 25 million in 30 years is remarkable for them!

      • Todd

        LadyGaga4Ever just just placed yourself in the running for King of Idiots .. I highly doubt anyone will want to hear Judas or Paparazzi 30 years from even 2 years from now

      • Esox

        Dude that’s REM albums vs. Lady Gaga song downloads. Approx $7 a pop back in the day for an album vs. $1 per song.

        Shut up.

      • sue

        trust me I dont think Lada Gaga will be remembered for more than a year or so.And only for looking wierd

      • Esox

        Not rippin’ GaGa. She’s doing influential stuff right now that (Sorry Todd) is gonna be remembered for a long, long time.

      • D

        Lady Ga Ga is a F***ing joke!! All people want to see is what kind of crap she is going to wear, not her awful music. Im not that big of a REM fan, but I know that they are leaps and bounds 1,000x’s more talented than that idiot lady GaGa. She is a joke as is the case with most music today.

      • zipcity

        So Lady Gaga is better than R.E.M. because her records sold a lot faster? Well, by that token, Vanilla Ice is a better songwriter than Nick Drake because Mr. Ice sold seven million albums and Drake never even earned a gold record. Math is ALWAYS the final arbiter of artistic merit!

      • Esox

        “She is a joke as is the case with most music today.”
        hah! Your parents said the same thing about REM. I told myself when I was a kid that I’d never fall into that trap. Every generation thinks their kids music is crap. So redundant.

      • Rachael

        I really wanted to display as much class as Mike, Michael, and Peter did, alas, I find myself thinking that you are, frankly, one shallow idiot. Todd- you’re one frood dude. Lady Gaga? Seriously? That’s the depth you’re operating at? Don’t get me wrong- I like to dance as much as anyone else. But I find the craftsmanship of poetry put to [amazing] music a far greater measure of talent.

      • Big Walt

        That’s not right. It’s 70 million.

      • No Lady Ca Ca

        R.E.M. has lasted 30 years. Lady Ca Ca will be forgotten in 10. The 25 million records R.E.M. sold were without gimmicks and without having to price said albums at 99 cents.

      • MikeInMaine

        Lady Gaga is a piece of s***!! no talent, no originality..just a corporate mouth piece without a brain in her head!! She could drop dead tomorrow and no one would really care!

      • Boss

        You take a band like REM that wasn’t made to pop music, and turn it into profitable 90s alternative post-modern music. If that isn’t enough of an oxymoron already. And then you compare it with a pop musician that was manufacture to compete with indie electro pop alternative and compare them based solely on record sales? It’s like a side show of a side show.

      • Dave

        Lady Gaga has sold only 13 million albums. So she’s barely halfway there. And with the Gaga fatigue every seems to be experiencing, she’ll be hard pressed to finish the job. And you have to remember, R.E.M. spent their first decade as an underground college band, barely selling more than a couple hundred thousand copies per album.

      • Travis

        You’re so right Lady GaGa will be more remembered more than these clowns. I’m sure 30 years from now Lady Gaga will also be credited with being extremely influential for an entire genre of music (or two genres of music depending on how you define alternative music and indie rock). Here’s a quick history lesson for ya – Without REM, good chance Nirvana, The Strokes, entire music scene in the 90s and 00s would cease to exist. It’s like saying Michael Jackson or Madonna were not important

      • Lady Gaga 4Ever

        Tarvis – None of the fossils you mentioned were ever really that important to begin with. We are the new buying market. What we say and buy sets the musical standards of today. Deal with it. Hah.

      • L. David Sloan

        Lady GaGa is slightly better version of Cher,and a slightly worse version of Madonna.

      • Travis

        Lady Gaga is an unoriginal rehash of gimmick-y music. Everything she does has been done before, including by REM. Her speaking out for LGBT’s commuity/AIDs/Social issues is unoriginal and has been done to better effect by artists like REM.

      • Color Me Impressed

        Now, now…Gaga is fairly talented & shes certainly better than most of the sh*t you hear on the radio nowadays, but your statement is simply…WRONG. At the end of the day, Lady Gaga will be remembered as a fun little gimmick with a few catchy hits and some nice humanitarian work on her resume. R.E.M. will be remembered as on of the most important influences on the history of alternative/indie/underground music! Quantity of records sold does NOT equal quality! You need to understand this…artists like REM, The Strokes, The Replacements, Pixies, Elliot Smith, Radiohead, Nirvana, Joy Division & Arcade fire pour more emotional urgency and intellectual thought into their songs than Gaga could ever muster. Nothing against her, but its just a fact. Now get over yourself.

      • Julie

        I’m going to be charitable and guess that “Lady Gaga 4Ever” is parodying an obsessed Lady Gaga fan. Surely no one can be that big of an idiot.

    • PN

      I think they should have ended 5 years ago–they just didn’t seem very much into it anymore.

    • lisa g.

      It’s 2011; no one cares!

      • A

        Enough people seem to care to have nearly 200 posts here.

      • lisa g.

        Ur right! Nice piece of flakey halibut.

      • Boss

        Phish is making a comback album.. Errr Um..

      • Steve

        REM is better than Phish

      • lisa g.

        Blackened sea bass…pooh

    • James L Howlett

      I agree. Automatic for the People was the last great album they did and once Bill left, the band was never the same again and never seemed to be very interested in making music. Their biggest career mistake was NOT touring to support Out of Time and Automatic for the People. That killed any career momentum that could have kept them up there with U2.

    • Daniel

      Then we wouldn’t have had Monster, which I thought was far greater than Out of Time or Auto for the People.

      • Acaseofgeo

        I liked “Monster” and I’ve played it about 30 times but not since 2003. I played “Out of TIme” almost 70 times but also not since 2003. Out of TIme had that HUGE iconic song and video but I think Monster was a better album.

    • Mr. Effing Tea Party

      I never got over how these lefty weirdos tainted my eyeball movement for the last 30 years! I don’t like it!

    • Kelly

      Amen.

    • Color Me Impressed

      My favorite songs are probably: “Radio Free Europe”, “The Sidewind Sleeps Tonite”, “Try Not to Breathe”, “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (& I Feel Fine)” & “Moral Kiosk”.

  • Tygor1

    My favorites include: Shiny Happy People, What’s the Frequecy, Kenneth?, Everybody Hurts and Imitation Of Life. Thank you guys for your great contribution to the world of music. Good luck in your future endeavors.

    • ^

      Please.
      Reunion in 5 years’ time.

      • Alexander Hamilton

        True.

    • nodnarb

      WTF? Those are like the worst songs in their catalog! I have never met anyone who likes Shiny Happy People

      • Debs

        Dude, I don’t even OWN Out of Time because that song sucked so hard.

      • Esox

        I like it. Fun and quirky. Great harmonies.

      • Tom

        That’s because you took it literally. You probably think “The One I Love” is a love song or “Losing My Religion” has some biblical reference. It’s called cynicism.

      • Kevin

        Agreed. Shiny Happy People is as unlistenable as Radio Song with KRS-One.

      • RT

        “Shiny Happy People” is a fun song nothing more, nothing less. It is one that deserves neither status as R.E.M. classic or the vitriol often hurled at it.

      • Esox

        Wrongo- The One I Love is actually a very cruel song. Losing My Religion is about Losing Faith, not about Religion. Don’t pigeon hole me for enjoying a good pop song.

      • nodnarb

        You figured me out, Tom. I also think “Fall on Me” is about someone tripping and “Orange Crush” is about soda.

      • Esox

        @nodnarb- Yes!

        Y’know, the way I understand it, they actually DO feel fine about the end of the world. It’s good to be a dumb simpleton. That way I CAN enjoy Shiny Happy People. I feel sorry for smart people.

      • Esox

        Two Music Snobs walk into a bar…they can’t play the jukebox because it’s full of hits.
        Yeah, it’s not funny, but it’s true. Music Snobs…sheesh!

      • Steve

        Stinky Winey Creepy People

      • Dave

        Uhhh…”OrangeCrush” is actually a reference to the soda.

      • Julie

        I thought Orange Crush was about Agent Orange.

  • Catherine

    Perfect! Now I guess they can get even more money off a “reunion” tour…

    • Flip

      Exactly. Break-ups and farewell tours only exist so bands can get back together and go on a reunion tour.

    • Shecky

      Yes, because you know that’s EXACTLY what they were thinking. It’s perfectly logical, after all. Their new albums sell poorly and in the U.S., they’re all-but ignored. So of course the thing to do is break up, take a few years off and then reunite. Certainly the people who were ignoring them now would miss them so greatly that they would return in droves in five years and happily open their pocketbooks. Makes perfect sense to me.

    • Bird

      They didn’t say they would never tour, just that they are not planning to record any more albums together.

    • Steve

      At least I don’t have to see their faces on another cover of Columbia House buy 1 get 10 free CDS ever ever EVER again!!!

      sell outs!!

  • Chris

    This sucks. One of my favorite bands growing up, and definitely played a lot during high school. Their last two albums were really good, so at least they ended on a high note. Thanks for the memories, guys.

    • nodnarb

      That’s how I feel. They were the soundtrack to my high school years, so my sadness about this is more nostalgia based.

      • Chris

        Their last two albums were really good, which was a relief. They were never the same after Bill Berry left, but I’d still rather listen to their music than the nonsense that seems to pass for music these days.

      • Esox

        “These days” hah! Your parents said the same thing about REM. I told myself when I was a kid that I’d never fall into that trap. Every generation thinks their kids music is crap. So redundant.

      • nodnarb

        I’ve heard good things about Accelerate… but I’d given up on them long before that came up. Maybe I should pick it up today in tribute! I so agree about Bill Berry… that along with Buck’s airline incident and inevitable aging of the guys, it just seems like they began struggling with mundane problems and lost the will to write songs that were about stuff like Fall on Me or Welcome to the Occupation.

      • Chris

        Actually, my parents are R.E.M. fans too. My Dad was a big fan of the New Wave groups, and is a huge Thomas Dolby fan. Try not to paint my house with your Troll Brush, chief.

      • Steve

        You guys really missed the real alternative bands of the 90s I guess, if REM was it for you.

      • DTO

        This sucks. I was into REM growing up, and they were also the favorite band of a girl I once knew who is no longer with us. I haven’t listened to them in a hardcore way in years, but the news makes me feel like the book has been closed on a certain part of my life.

      • nodnarb

        The 90s, Steve? Uh, we’re actually talking about the 80s. If you’re gonna be a music snob, at least try to know something about music.

      • Tom

        I loved their song Rock Lobster. That was the best REM song evar!

  • HaHa

    ^ Quite true ^

  • Callie

    I didn’t even know they were still recording albums. Thought they broke up years ago. oops.

  • hana

    country feedback (out of time), great song, great album, great band

    • swthompson

      ^this!

      • mike

        agreed about the song
        has meant a lot to me along with so many others

  • e4ia

    It’s the end of REM as we know it…and I feel fine.

    • e4ia

      … not because I dislike them or anything. Just haven’t really heard much from them the past couple of decades.

    • Esox

      You were the same one who wrote Told her to go to Rehab she said No, No, No, weren’t ya?

      • e4ia

        Ha ha. No. But it seemed all of my Facebook friends did that day.

  • Mike

    Thank you, REM, for an amazing career.

    Favorite albums: Murmur and New Adventures in Hi Fi.

    Favorite songs: Perfect Circle, Laughing, Leave, E-bow the Letter, Texarkana, Man on the Moon, Kohotek, Fall on Me, Rockville and many more.

    • Katie

      love “Murmur”.

      love “Rockville”

    • nodnarb

      Good choices. Mine are: World Leader Pretend, Cuyahoga, Green Grow the Rushes, Superman, Begin the Begin, Orange Crush.. there are too many!

      • ger

        Nice choices

    • G.R.

      My top 5 REM albums:
      ‘Murmur’ (still one of my favorites by any band), ‘Reckoning,’ ‘Fables of the Reconstruction,’ ‘Out of Time’ (the album that first made me and my older sister fans), ‘Accelerate’ (easily the best of the post-Berry albums)

      My top 20 songs:
      “Gardening At Night,” “Radio Free Europe,” “Rockville,” “Harborcoat,” “Pretty Persuasion,” “Driver 8,” “Can’t Get There From Here,” Green Grow the Rushes,” “What If We Give It Away,” “Fall on Me,” “Exhuming McCarthy,” “Losing My Religion,” “Near Wild Heaven,” “Man on the Moon,” “Crush With Eyeliner,” “Electrolite,” “At My Most Beautiful,” “All the Way to Reno,” “Imitation of Life,” “Supernatural Superserious.”

      • Mike

        Love your entire list, but especially love that you put Gardening at Night first. Amazing song.

      • G.R.

        Thanks! And I agree — it’s a beautiful song.

        While I’m at it, I can’t believe I left out “The Great Beyond” and “Pop Song ’89″…

      • Big Walt

        No Night Swimming?

      • Steve

        No Orange Crush? No The One I Love?

        Talk about missing the point. Man…

      • Job

        it is like saying that you favourite album by U2 was the vertigo album.. ack!!

      • Dave

        “Green” was the soundtrack to my senior year of high school. Fav songs:
        Can’t Get There From Here
        Radio Free Europe
        Driver 8
        Superman
        It’s the End of the World as We Know It
        Everybody Hurts
        Night Swimming
        Crush With Eyeliner
        Man On the Moon

      • dave_r

        can’t agree more Dave!

    • Michael

      I agree. There will never be another group as distinctive with 90’s and 80’s rock as R.E.M. They will definitely be missed.

  • Elle

    It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel…awful. Noooooooo. I love REM. Shoot. Suckiness. Why?

    • Big Walt

      It’s been over 30 years, it’s amazing they lasted this long.

  • Brian Wallace

    Lot of great songs but Country Feedback and Fall On Me are two personal favorites.

    Brian

  • Beth

    REM and U2 were a big part of my high school years. It’s hard to pick just one song I love more than others, but I have always had a particular fondness for Night Swimming. Or maybe Radio Song. It’s hard to pick. Anyway, thank you, REM, for giving us some great music over the years.

    • Bird

      REM and U2 were more than just my high school years for me. I was listening to them before HS because my brother intorduced me to them and I was listening to them after HS.

    • DTO

      I started listening to REM during high school but I really got into them in college. Being a high school graduate in 1990, it was hard to find them when you lived in a small town and the radios were clogged with hair metal and classic rock. Once I hit college, I was able to be in a town with a decent record store and delve more deeply into their music catalogue than the occasional MTV video I’d catch. Good times that will be missed.

  • andrewinchicago

    There will never be a reunion, too much class. Collapse into now is the best cd they’ve done in 20 years and no one appreciated it. I don’t blame them for stopped-while not on top-still great.

    • Esox

      “too much class”-If the money’s there, class will go out the window.

  • Who saw this coming?

    So, they lost their religion?

    • Esox

      You were the same one who wrote Told her to go to Rehab she said No, No, No, weren’t ya?

      • Who saw this coming?

        Nope. But if it made any money I’ll take the credit.

      • AnnieTx

        Why do you keep asking that?

      • Job

        Mr Hathaway is Not Amused! :(

  • Pam

    Not a huge fan but of the songs I liked by them, I truly loved, such as Shiny Happy People, End of the World…., Losing My Religion… and I think that is it.

    • jmo

      Shiny Happy People, End of the World, Losing My Religion, Let Me In, Strange Currencies (love, LOVE Strange Currencies)

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