After 31 years of making music together, R.E.M. call it quit. On September 21, the band formed in Athens, Georgia, in 1979 issued a joint statement regarding their retirement, thanking fans and friends for supporting them throughout their long journey in music scene.
"We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished," they said. "To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening." As their final offering, they will release a Greatest Hits album in November.
R.E.M. originally comprised of singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry. In 1995, Bill suffered a brain aneurysm during their 1995 "Monster" tour, and had no other choice but quitting the band two years later.
"Bill insisted he would stay, if his leaving meant breaking the band up," Michael recalled. They continued on as a trio for another 14 years and released at least seven studio installments, adding a total of 15 albums. Their latest one, "Collapse Into Now", was released March this year.
"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," Mike said.
He went on, "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 added, "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."
Peter also shared his thought on the split, "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."
He continued, "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."