For reasons presumably unrelated to Michael Stipe’s dick flicks, R.E.M. “>announced their breakup today. And while we can argue all day about their past decade-plus of output, very few bands — maybe no bands at all — have had a greater impact on the last few generations of independent rock music than R.E.M. have. Without them, the music world would be in a vastly different place today. Respect is due.
On their website, the members of the band have posted a brief statement announcing that they’re done. They haven’t given any reason for the breakup. But when you’ve been a band for 31 years, you sort of don’t need a reason to retire.
Here’s the complete text of their statement:
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. 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.
On his Tumblr, Stipe says: “THANKS PETER, MIKE, BILL, BERTIS AND EVERYONE WHO WAS EVER THERE, WHAT AN ADVENTURE!!! XXX MICHAEL”
At Stereogum, we gave R.E.M. our own sort of salute by putting together Drive XV, our free 15th-anniversary tribute to their Automatic For The People album. You can still give that a listen right here.
UPDATE: The R.E.M. website has added statements from the members.
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.
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.
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.