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R.E.M. Breaks Up - Band portrait with Michael Stipe

Everybody Hurts After R.E.M Announces Retirement

written by: on September 21, 2011

After more than 30 years and 15 albums, R.E.M. has called it a day. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame act originally started out in 1980 with Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills and Bill Berry. R.E.M. soon put Athens on the map, and after some immediate local success released the critically acclaimed Murmur (#5 in our Top 60 Debuts) in 1983. Featuring “Radio Free Europe” the band exploded onto the mainstream landscape and followed up with another acclaimed album in Reckoning (1984). It’s hard to keep track of all the great albums the band produced in the 1980s, which featured Document (1987) and Green (1988) closing out the decade.

The band took a mini-hiatus and finally released Out of Time in 1991. A big album that includes “Losing My Religion,” it’s not as beloved as other entries in the R.E.M. discography or the album that came right after it, Automatic for the People (1992). Capturing the original DIY mentality of their earlier releases with the backing of a major label and massive ambition, it’s a classic no matter how you slice it. Automatic for the People saw the band reach its apex, and while still productive and able to deliver some good moments, the band never reached those heights again in later releases. The band hit a mini-renaissance with the 2008 release of Accelerate and the recent release of Collapse into Now in March.

The major sentiment of the band was, what could the future hold for R.E.M.? After 30 years, about 85 million albums sold worldwide, numerous hits, being relevant through countless fads, and inspiring numerous bands including Pavement and Nirvana, what was left to uncover? With the release of a statement calling it quits on their website, it’s an end to an extraordinary career within music as well as outside.

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.” – R.E.M.

Stipe has been a passionate and outspoken activist championing political causes as well as causes for human rights, feminism and environmentalism. What will you remember most about R.E.M.?