In a statement released on their website on Wednesday, alternative rock legends R.E.M. announced that they would be retiring after 31 years together. The band, consisting of singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, and bassist Mike Mills, collectively decided it was time to move on: “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.” R.E.M. was a pioneer not just within alternative music but within many sub-genres, with bands like Green Day and Nirvana citing them as strong influences for their music. With a catalog of music that included 15 albums and won them a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, R.E.M. will forever be remembered as one of the greatest bands of our generation.
They were most widely known for their esoteric and sometimes indiscernible lyrics, vibrant music videos and outlandish live performances. While not every one of their albums was well-received by critics, particularly scrutinized was their 2004 album Around the Sun, R.E.M. managed to stay relevant and continue selling out tours for three decades. Aside from being one of the first alternative bands to achieve mainstream success, R.E.M. have also been praised for their social activism and philanthropy. They used their celebrity to shed light on issues they believed were important such as human rights violations, animal cruelty, and voting amongst young adults.
The news of their breakup will undoubtedly upset their colossal fan base yet there is some comfort in knowing that they are leaving on a high note. As frontman Michael Stipe phrased it: “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.” This year saw another legendary band retire in similar fashion; LCD Soundsystem said farewell with a series of concerts in their native New York to show fans their appreciation. While R.E.M. have not announced a goodbye tour, they will be putting out a two-disc greatest hits album that will include three brand new songs. The album is slated to release sometime in November.
For more information on R.E.M.’s departure from the music industry, check out their interview with Rolling Stone: Exclusive: Mike Mills on Why R.E.M. Are Calling It Quits
Also take a look at the R.E.M.’s website to see comments from band members, updates on their upcoming album and more: http://remhq.com/index.php