Michael Stipe | Music | News

R.E.M. Breaks Up After Three Decades

Rem R.E.M. has broken up after 31 years, according to a statement on the band's website:

"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."

Said Michael Stipe: "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."

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  1. I'm still sad about this, though honestly it shoulda happened years ago. The last 3 or 4 albums have been terrible.

    Having grown up in the suburbs of Atlanta, they really were the soundtrack of my youth. Listening to an upperclassman's 2nd-gen tapes of Murmur and Life's Rich Pageant was the first time I discovered that there was great music not on the radio or MTV. And Michael Stipe, my boyhood idol for so many years, was probably the most instrumental in my coming out when I read in Rolling Stone how he described his sexuality: "Labels are for canned food" (I think that's pretty silly now but my teenage self thought it was brilliant!)

    I still know all the words to It's the End of the World as We Know It!

    @Peterparker: Here's your cue to post what a big closet case Michael Stipe was. I know you're chomping at the bit!

    Posted by: nodnarb | Sep 21, 2011 2:44:39 PM


  2. Lucky enough to see them in concert once. REM did much for the world of music and the gay community. Mr. Stipe was an outspoken beacon for gay men everywhere. Congratulations on a stupendous career, gentlemen.

    Posted by: Mark | Sep 21, 2011 2:45:52 PM


  3. So what does this say about The B-52's? I mean, R.E.M. has been around since 1980, and The B-52's since four years BEFORE THAT.

    Posted by: Jerry | Sep 21, 2011 2:50:14 PM


  4. Oh Lord! It's the end of the world as we know it!

    Posted by: Guy Johnson | Sep 21, 2011 2:56:51 PM


  5. Gone, but never forgotten. I grew up in the 80's and their music moved me as a lonely gay boy growing up in the mountains. While other kids in school where listening to Springsteen and other mainstream crap, I had Murmur, Fables..., Document, Life's Rich..and one of my favorite, Green albums to listen to. Unlike other musicians back in the day, Mercury and Elton, I didn't even think of Stipe being gay, he had an amazing voice and demeanor. When I grew up and finally realized perhaps he was gay and then he came out, I knew there was a reason his music always spoke to me.

    The lyrics to You Are The Everything...

    Sometimes I feel like I can't even sing (say, say, the light)
    I'm very scared for this world
    I'm very scared for me (say, say, the light)
    Eviscerate your memory
    Here's a scene
    You're in the back seat laying down (say, say, the light)
    The windows wrap around
    To sound of the travel and the engine (say, say, the light)
    All you hear is time stand still in travel
    And feel such peace and absolute
    The stillness still that doesn't end
    But slowly drifts into sleep
    The stars are the greatest thing you've ever seen
    And they're there for you
    For you alone you are the everything

    I think about this world a lot and I cry (say, say, the light)
    And I've seen the films and the eyes
    But I'm in this kitchen (say, say, the light)
    Everything is beautiful
    And she is so beautiful (say, say, the light)
    She is so young and old
    I look at her and I see the beauty (say, say, the light)
    Of the light of music
    The voices talking somewhere in the house
    Late spring and you're drifting off to sleep
    With your teeth in your mouth
    You are here with me
    You are here with me
    You have been here and you are everything

    Sometimes I feel like I can't even sing (say, say, the light)
    I'm very scared for this world
    I'm very scared for me (say, say, the light)
    Eviscerate your memory
    Here's a scene
    You're in the back seat laying down (say, say, the light)
    The windows wrap around
    To sound of the travel and the engine (say, say, the light)
    All you hear is time stand still in travel
    And feel such peace and absolute
    The stillness still that doesn't end
    But slowly drifts into sleep
    The greatest thing you've ever seen
    And they're there for you
    For you alone you are the everything
    For you alone you are the everything

    Posted by: bewilderbeast | Sep 21, 2011 3:13:30 PM


  6. It's about time!

    Posted by: anon | Sep 21, 2011 3:23:23 PM


  7. Sad, but as a longtime fan of the band, not totally unexpected. The fact that they never seemed to be gearing up for a major tour as they've done with virtually every previous album seemed suspicious.

    I wish they'd ended things with "Accelerate" rather than "Collapse Into Now," though. "Accelerate" was a good bookend and something of a return to the bands early career, whereas "Collapse into Now" felt like a tired afterthought. Truth is, they've not had a fully strong album all the way through since "New Adventures in Hi-Fi" and the era when Bill Berry was still with the band. R.E.M. as a trio has been much more like just bits-and-pieces, with a good song here and there.

    Peter Buck is still around on all sorts of side projects (as to a lesser degree Mike Mills) and it'll be interesting to see if Stipe finally comes out with a solo album with a different backing band or just moves more into things like photography.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Sep 21, 2011 3:37:30 PM


  8. The first time I saw REM there were literally 5 people in the audience. I loved their first EP and saw their shows often in the next few years, before they became huge. Stipe changed from a sweet genuine guy into a pretentious ass, but though I stopped buying their records and learned to loathe him I continued to be impressed by his lyrical gift. Losing My Religion is my favorite REM song and I often find it running through my head. Great song, great video.

    Posted by: Dave | Sep 21, 2011 4:07:03 PM


  9. I saw them in 8th grade, then again with the Go-Betweens in Munich when I was 16. Amazing shows both, but Stipe really has become unbearable.

    I'm also surprised that so many people find him a gay icon, since---like Morrissey---he was so cagey about the obvious. Along with Sandra Bernhard, George Michael, and many others who came to fame in the 80s. Not that it doesn't continue today, but they all could have made a big difference had they all not say they hated labels, blah blah blah, when everyone with a modicum of insight knew the truth.

    Posted by: Paul R | Sep 21, 2011 6:01:14 PM


  10. Man I love all the albums they made while with IRS records but to me GREEN was their last great album, I loved every song on it, such great memories. I remember the first video I saw of theirs it was "Can't get there from here" on video jukebox on HBO, talk about a LONG time ago.

    Posted by: Akula | Sep 21, 2011 7:51:53 PM


  11. This. Just. SUCKS.

    Yes, I know it had to happend someday, but...aGafcggahsgfahsdfSUCKS!

    Good luck with whatever they do after.

    Posted by: ophu | Sep 21, 2011 8:54:59 PM


  12. Great band, I love the run of albums from "Murmur" > "New Adventures...". Saw them a bunch of times in concert, it was weird to see the crowd change from one that knew every song immediately to one that only showed any life when they played "Stand" or "Losing My Religion".

    "I'm also surprised that so many people find him a gay icon, since---like Morrissey---he was so cagey about the obvious"

    Exactly. It cracks me up that they're so anxious not to be labelled but it happens anyway because they won't make a firm statement. In Stipe's case, he's had female lovers --just like the love of Freddie Mercury's life was a woman-- why not come out as bisexual?

    Posted by: Henry Holland | Sep 21, 2011 9:45:08 PM


  13. omgolly - you are the everything! can't help but shed a tear just at the mention of that song...and camera. what an amazing body of work

    Posted by: tim | Sep 21, 2011 11:43:48 PM


  14. RIP REM

    Posted by: Jack M | Sep 22, 2011 8:08:30 AM


  15. Some of their songs are so iconic, such a part of our shared mental and cultural landscape, they are beyond judgment. Very few musicians hit that note. Hope they move on to projects that keep their formidable creative juices flowing!

    Posted by: Andalusian Dog | Sep 22, 2011 11:19:59 AM


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