After more than three decades and 15 albums, R.E.M. have announced that they are splitting up.
In a statement on their official website they say, "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."
There had been no indication that this was on the cards, aside from the fact that the Athens Georgia group declined to tour their last album, Collapse Into Now, which was released earlier this year.
6 Music spoke to Michael Stipe at the time of the records release, “I put so much into the work that we do with the band. I put so much work into it that when I am done, I feel like I will never be able to do it again.”
“I feel like I have given everything that I have. For better or worse one of the things I am most proud of, is that as a band, we have never allowed ourselves to take the advice of other people, over ours. So the triumphs, are completely and distinctly ours.”
"We have always been a band in the truest sense of the word. Brothers who truly love, and respect each other."
Ethan Kaplan, who runs an R.E.M. fan website, told Rolling Stone that pressure from Warner Brothers records on the fiercely independent band to come out with new material might have been a reason for the break-up.
In any case Bassist Mike Mills said there was no acrimony; the band simply felt it was time to go their separate ways.
"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.”
He added: "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."
The band's Facebook page was immediately inundated last night when the news broke, with expressions of sorrow at the news.
"Your music changed my life. Very sad news," wrote Sandra Simao Andrade.
"Thank you R.E.M. for the years of wonderful music. 'Losing my Religion' will always be my favourite," wrote Curtis Frank.
Buck added that he and the other band members "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."
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