After 31 Years And 15 Records, R.E.M. Calls It A Day
Breakup Is Amicable And Unanimous, Band Members Say
The photo you see here, which was scanned to digital by the Los Angeles Times, shows Southern rock band R.E.M. in its hometown of Athens, Georgia in 1985. From the left are Bill Berry (the band’s original drummer, who retired from the group in 1997), Mike Mills, Peter Buck, and Michael Stipe. Last week, after making music together for some 31 years, R.E.M. issued a brief statement on its website telling fans that the band was calling it quits.
The statement read:
“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.”
In addition to this group statement, the three original band members (Mills, Buck, and Stipe) wrote individual blurbs outlining their feelings on the band’s dissolution. Mills stressed that the decision to break up came with “no disharmony… no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off.” While most bands seem to break up because their members grow apart, R.E.M. may have fallen victim to label politics. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Ethan Kaplan, owner of the R.E.M. fan community “Murmurs” and former VP of emerging technology at Warner Bros Records, suggested that recent changes at the record label probably contributed to the band’s decision. “I think the demands on a band now to get a record out were more than they might have wanted to commit,” he said. “I suspected this was coming….”
In March of this year, R.E.M. released the band’s final record, called “Collapse Into Now,” which received nearly unanimously positive reviews. Los Angeles Times music critic Ann Powers wrote that the album eschewed “current trends,” instead “moving through the R.E.M. cookbook with the focus and precision of an Iron Chef.” Powers called the album a return to form for the band.
The band members have not announced what they plan to do in the next chapter of their lives. To see more classic R.E.M. photos that have been scanned to digital, visit LA Times.