R.E.M., the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers who helped pioneer the “college rock” sound of the ‘80s and inspired generations of indie rockers with genre-building classics including “Losing My Religion” and “Everybody Hurts,” have called it quits.
Yes, cue “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine).”
“We have decided to call it a day as a band,” the band announced on its website. “We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished.”
That legacy includes seven platinum albums -- including “Out of Time,” “Automatic for the People” and “Monster,” which sold more than 12 million copies in the ‘90s – and three Grammy awards, including best alternative album for “Out of Time” in 1992.
“I hope our fans realize this wasn't an easy decision,” singer Michael Stipe said in a statement. “But all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way.”
R.E.M. has gone out with its standards still high, as “Collapse Into Now,” released this year, was a critical success, if not as big a commercial hit as the band has delivered in the past.
“During our last tour, and while making ‘Collapse Into Now’ and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, 'what next'?” said bassist Mike Mills. “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… The time just feels right.”
The announcement didn’t surprise many. The band decided not to tour in support of “Collapse Into Now” and they had discussed quitting several times over the years. In 2008, guitarist Peter Buck told me that the band almost broke up during the recording of “Around the Sun.” “It's really hard to make a record that's exciting to listen to if you're so sick of the songs that you just want to kill yourself - the way we were working, that's the way it would be," Buck said then. "I remember we went in one night and Bill [Rieflin, the band's drummer] said, 'Oh my God, we're not re-recording that again, are we?' How can you get a good take if everyone in the band feels that way?"
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In a statement yesterday, Buck told fans that even though the band was calling it quits he knows it’s not the end of the line for the music. “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.”
R.E.M. has provided its fans with so many unbelievable gifts over the years, here are our 10 favorites (in no particular order):