NEW YORK -- R.I.P. to R.E.M.
The alternative rock group that shook up the music world with its experimental, edgy sound and then earned multiplatinum success and a place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced on its website Wednesday that it has decided to call it a day as a band.
A wise man once said -- the skill in attending a party is knowing when its time to leave. We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now were going to walk away from it, frontman Michael Stipe said in a statement on the website.
I hope our fans realize this wasnt an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way.
The Grammy-winning group, now composed of Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck and bassist Mike Mills, released its debut album Murmur in 1983; at the time it was a quartet, with drummer Bill Berry. He left the group in 1997, two years after he suffered symptoms of an aneurysm onstage.
Berry and Mills were classmates at Northeast High School in the mid-1970s. After the two graduated, Berry became a chauffeur and Mills worked at Sears. After a stint as roommates at an Arlington Street apartment in Macons historic district, Berry and Mills headed for the University of Georgia in Athens.
There the group got its start, coming out of the regions flourishing indie-rock scene. The band was credited for helping launch college radio with songs such as Radio Free Europe.
Later, the mainstream caught on, and R.E.M. became chart-topping rockers, selling millions of albums with hits like Its the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine), Losing My Religion and Everybody Hurts.
Stipe, the bands chief songwriter, crafted songs that were atypical of the standard rock fare. Man on the Moon was about the late comic Andy Kaufman. Losing My Religion was not about religion at all, but about trying to relay the feelings of a crush.
The bands videos also became staples on MTV in the 1990s, including the eye-catching Losing My Religion and the stark Everybody Hurts, which had Stipe walking through a highway traffic jam.
R.E.M. became one of the more forceful voices of 1990s rock, and came along around the same time as another rock quartet -- U2. But whereas U2 managed to maintain (and even increase) its popularity over the years, R.E.M. stumbled commercially in recent years, and their hits dwindled.
The band continued to create music that resonated with critics and their core group of fans; the groups last album, Collapse into Now, was released in March and a greatest hits retrospective is in the works.
But Mills said the band was running out of ideas.
During our last tour, and while making Collapse Into Now and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, What next? he said. 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.
Buck said the band parts as great friends and thanked fans for their support.
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, Buck said. 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.
Warner Bros. is releasing the greatest hits retrospective in November.
Associated Press writer Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report.
Nekesa Mumbi Moody is the APs music editor. Follow her at http://www.twitter.com/nekesamumbi . Mesfin Fekadu covers entertainment for The Associated Press. Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/musicmesfin.