Rock legends REM announce split


Losing My Religion music video courtesy of Warner Bros

Related Stories

Members of legendary US rock band REM have announced they are splitting up after 31 years.

"We have decided to call it a day as a band," the band said. "To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening."

The group found fame with a string of albums, notably 90s hits Out of Time and Automatic for the People.

The band's website was briefly unavailable on Wednesday afternoon after the announcement was made.

31 years, 15 albums

  • 1980: REM formed in Athens, Georgia, by Michael Stipe, Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Bill Berry
  • 1988: Breakthrough album Green released
  • 1991-94: Three biggest albums sell millions and make them international stars
  • 1994: Tony Blair names REM as favourite band
  • 1997: Berry quits
  • 2002: Buck cleared of drunken air rage on British Airways flight
  • 2011: Band's 15th and final album Collapse Into Now reaches number 5 on US Billboard

Four of REM's albums in the 1990s went platinum in the UK, peaking with Automatic For The People, which sold more than 1.8m copies.

In the States, three of the band's albums were certified quadruple platinum - representing sales of 4m - according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

The group was originally made up of singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry, who left the band in 1997.

"I hope our fans realise this wasn't an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way," Stipe said as he announced the split.

Asked in a BBC 6 Music interview earlier this year whether every album felt like the band's last, Stipe had said: "I put so much into the work we do that, when I'm done, I feel like I'd never be able to do it again."

REM in concert on 15 September 2004 Singer Michael Stipe cut a distinctive figure on stage and had a unique vocal style

In the same interview he said the band had started off without any goals.

"The fact that we were making records and touring felt like this amazing adventure to us. We didn't necessarily want to conquer the world - but then we ended up doing exactly that in some small corner of the universe that belonged to pop music and us."

Everybody hurts

REM have often used their music and power as a band to carry a message.

Everybody Hurts from album Automatic for the People, started out as a song to comfort "younger people". Its "don't give up" message has most often been associated with suicide prevention but the song has also been used to mark the Dunblane massacre, Princess Diana's death and more recently the earthquake in Haiti.

In 2009, REM was one of a number of bands to form the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo, referring to the US prison in Cuba.

Many of the artists who joined the campaign were angry that their music had reportedly been used as an interrogation tool in the jail.

In a statement, REM said: "We have spent the past 30 years supporting causes related to peace and justice. To now learn that some of our friends' music may have been used as part of the torture tactics without their consent or knowledge, is horrific. It's anti-American, period."


REM at Glastonbury, June 1999 REM headlined the Glastonbury festival in 1999

Over the years, REM influenced and nurtured many other bands - giving exposure to alternative rock acts like Radiohead, Wilco and 10,000 Maniacs through support slots on their tours.

Among those mourning their demise were The Strokes and The Futureheads, both of whom simply posted the message "RIP REM" on Twitter.

US rock group One Republic paid tribute to "one of the best, most enduring bands of our lifetime", adding "you guys will be missed. Your music will keep on keepin' on".

BBC Radio 1's Zane Lowe said the group had been "an integral part of the modern story of rock'n'roll".

"REM never dumbed down. Look at the bands they influenced... The Smiths, Radiohead, Nirvana and so on.

"And they end with dignity. Most won't."

REM won three Grammy awards in 1992, and the best international group trophy at the Brit awards in 1993 and 1995.

The band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007.

Their fifteenth and final album, Collapse into Now, was released in March 2011. Record label Warner Bros is due to issue a career retrospective in November.


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    Perhaps Pete will put devote more time to the Minus 5 project

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    This, of course, can mean only one thing: The band's original four members will gather in 2013 at Sanford Stadium in Athens, Ga. -- the band's hometown and springboard to stardom -- to kickoff an international, multi-media, super-colossal, mega-tour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    When I discovered R.E.M. in the early 80's, I was hooked. Being one of the best underground rock band, over time it became a huge part of the Alternative scene. Michael, Mike, Peter (and Bill) ... thank you for the wonderful music.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.


    You forgot (I'm assuming) Yes, ELP, Jethro Tull, the Moody Blues, and others. But, though I'm old-ish and missed out--somehow--on their music (I had heard of them),

    so I'll probably now listen to them--in a greatest hits album.


  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Oh no! It's the end of the world as we know it, but I feel fine!

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    Please tell me they are going to do one more tour? I saw them at my first ever concert at Slane Castle 1995. I've been to many concerts since but that one remains the best in my memory. Slane 2012? I need to see them one last time before they go. Played Strange Currencies for the first dance at my wedding and would love to hear it live for the first, and last :-( , time with my new hubby!

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    this sucks but i never understood why bands say that they are breaking up for good, i mean i know the beatles hated each other but if i had a band with a few other guys i would just say we are taking a looong break because i guaranty you REM will be back some day and then you have to retract what you said,words are a very powerful tool,i hope the best for them and thank you for the great memories.

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    his here is the place I will be staying.
    There isn't a number. You can call the pay phone.
    Let it ring a long, long, long, long time.
    If I don't pick up, hang up, call back, let it ring some more.
    If I don't pick up, pick up...
    The sidewinder sleeps, sleeps, sleeps in a coil.

    Call me when you try to wake her.
    I spent years singing "Comedy in Chatawaker"

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    @John the resonator
    The simple reason for the pro REM bias is that while not liking their music is understandable, not recognising their significance is blindness to an obvious truth. They almost singlehandedly paved the way for an entire generation of bands in the 80s and proceeded to keep up with them in the 90s - expect an outpouring of respect from a wide range of sources.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    Judging that pro REM comments get lots of + ratings and anti REMs get lots of negatives I can only conclude there are more sheep on here than there are in New Zealand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    Shiny not so happy people they are now ,wonderful legacy of music ,admittedly some poor entire albums i.e. accelerate,new adventures ,up but timeless songs we will hear for years ,Nightswimming Electrolyte,Ebody hurts DaySleeper ,and of course losing my religion ,but evidence is they had run out of creativity ,i feel b4 they re 60 they will return

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    In my opinion REM and U2 are the most overrated bands on the scene. One down ...........

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    It's the end of the world as we know it and quite frankly I'm distraught - a sad, sad day for the world of music. We've lost arguably the most important band of the last 30 years. So many great artists owe so much to them. No band has had (or will ever have) such a profound effect on my life as R.E.M.... this is so out of the blue, so unexpected... I can only pray for a farewell tour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 119.


    REM were the link between the tail end of good pop music in the 80s and modern rock from the 90s. In no way are the likes of Nirvana/RATM/Foos and every other band from 20 years ago, inspired/spawned from REM's bland strain of pop-rock. These guys are the ultimate middle of the road radio filler. Good pop music for the masses, but nothing more, nothing different.

  • rate this

    Comment number 118.

    I'm sure this is the right thing....I'd bet that they never saw a 31 year career when they were in their pomp circa Murmer, Reckoning, Fables of the Reconstruction. I do feel they outstayed their welcome but such is the quality of their early catalogue that I think their reputation will survive the indifferent recent albums. Now, just time for 'Driver 8' and 'Wendell Gee' before bed.......

  • Comment number 117.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 116.

    no great loss to the

  • rate this

    Comment number 115.

    I must admit that I thought they'd already called it a day! They made some great music so lets remember them for that and not get into any nastiness and petty comments.

  • rate this

    Comment number 114.

    I’m one of those weirdos who really enjoyed lots of their last decade, for all its ups and downs. They could have gone the obvious route of endless U2 hero worship and instead, they just made albums they wanted to make.

    A few more thoughts over on the late-period R.E.M over at hackeryblog:

  • rate this

    Comment number 113.

    RIP REM.Really, they produced a run of albums in the 80's and early 90's that stand up alongside any recording artist of the last century....A handful of masterpiece long players and some of the best singles in recent decades is what I will remember them for...oh and Slane 95 on the Monster tour..they could also rock a show...Enjoy the freedom lads.Thanks for the tunes


Page 4 of 10


More Entertainment & Arts stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.